I listened into a conversation the other day about petroleum engineering courses in UK universities. In this, one of the contributors expressed surprise – shock almost – that such courses still existed, given what we know about climate change and net-zero carbon targets. In fact there are a lot of such courses in our universities (mostly as components of chemical engineering degrees). See UCAS and other data.
Their continuing existence would seem quite rational as universities have a range of criteria for running a degree course. Prominent amongst these are: there is a demand from well-qualified young people, there are well-paid, graduate level jobs to be had at the end of a degree and post-graduate opportunities, there are well-qualified staff to teach it, a research base to support it, and the course enhances (or at least does not diminish) the institution’s reputation.