Thursday, February 09, 2006

Is the quality of education suffering from budget cuts?

the Oregonian

The first in the series on local colleges and universities
Even as their tuition and fees have climbed 50 percent in the past five years, Oregon's university students are more likely than ever to be taught by part-time instructors instead of full-time professors.
Lower-paid instructors aren't held to the same stringent hiring standards as professors, are less likely to engage in research that could enhance their teaching, and aren't subject to performance reviews of the kind professors face

Who are the colleges and universities responsible to?

Who are their primary customers?

The answer is the students! Because without students there is no reason for the institution to exist.

However, some institutions do not like to think of their students as customers.
"If we thought of our students as customers, then that would make us a business." I was informed once by a former department head.
The result: Students can't count on quality and continuity. In addition, Oregon risks losing its capacity to produce graduates prepared to compete at the highest levels in the economy and in society.

Quality and value.
Two words that you do not hear much any more.

When a student graduates a two or four-year college, chances are the student will be in debt with student loans ranging from $20,000 and up. The reason for higher education is to invest in yourself. If the institution is no longer focusing on the quality of education, then the student is not getting any value for their money and will be paying not only the debt but also the additional expenses to make up the education where the institution has failed for years to come.

At Oregon State, professors carry out 41 percent of undergraduate teaching, compared with 68 percent a decade ago, according to a university system analysis. At the University of Oregon and Portland State, professors account for about half of undergraduate instruction.

To my understanding, is not uncommon at the University of Oregon for a 100-200 level class to be taught by a GTF student without direct supervision of a professor.

How often has a graduating student armed with their degree searching for a job only to be told by the employer, "if you went to that college or university, we won't hire you!"

The bottom line is that when quality suffers, so does the reputation of the college or university. Enrollment declines and everybody loses in the end.


Anonymous Gullyborg said...

schools have two types of customers:

1) the students who go there, and

2) the body (state, church, whatever) that supports the school.

Students need the school in order to better themselves. And the body that supports the school does so because it believes that a better educated populace serves its needs.

But schools today seem to be ignoring BOTH of their customers.

For instance, LCC and U of O are taxpayer supported because it is a matter of public policy that the community needs better educated workers in order to satisfy the needs of business, industry, government, etc. But are these schools turning out a PRODUCT (educated workers) that this CUSTOMER (the state) can utilize?

How many openings are there in our community for people with advanced degrees in transgender studies, geopolitical feminism, or neo-pagan literature?

Answer: NONE!

But cruise the campus, talk the tenured professors, and get to know the student body, and you'd think that Oregon is desperately understaffed in these fields, while overflowing with too many experts in computer science, industrial engineering, and chemistry.

Students absolutely get the shaft. But don't forget that, in the bigger picture, the community is also suffering from piss poor customer service.

10:09 AM  
Blogger jeff said...

As I understand it, full professors, especially the tenured, doctorate kind, dislike teaching undergrad classes nowadays.

I wonder if that's due to the drop in quality of the undergrads at the uni's... because of poor or inadequate preparation at the primary and secondary level?

11:26 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Gully adds to more insite on his blog at School woes

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I have been lucky as my first 2 years of college produced only one crappy instructor. The grad students that were teaching were interested in getting through, not teaching. The minimum information was conveyed and unless you asked a lot of questions, that was all you got. I commented once that I believe education should be free and was immediately reminded that teachers need to be paid. Yes, that was a grad student. She was putting in her time and counting on an income as a teacher. The idea that she should have had her education for free meant nothing. Education as well as every other problem in our society, finds its roots buried to the hoo-haw in money. Money, money, money. I wish Star Trek was real - where people spend their lives bettering their world instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses. Look how educated they all were. Beam me up, Scotty!

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