by Andy Budd hits the nail right on the head! For me - personally I LOVE web design. I love the technology, I love the art, I love the "detective work" that's often involved in getting your code to do exactly what you want, and the the graphics are just the icing on the cake!
Website design, as Andy mentions, doesn't have the history, or legacy that other disciplines such as architecture, or graphic design do. But there is no doubt that having competent qualified "web professionals" is needed. Businesses need to hire these people to work on their staff. Web Development firms need to be born and grow to meet the growing need for businesses trying to get on to the web.
"Much like architecture or product design, It’s a multi-disciplinary subject that needs to be taught [b]y multi-disciplinary teams; interaction designer, front end developers and usability specialists."
Wow. What I wouldn't do to study in such a program.