Volume 93, Issue 44

Wednesday, November 17, 1999


Oil spill threatened Thames

De-ratification may surprise USC clubs

TAs and admin reach agreement

Quality of college education falls

Drugs and alcohol use on the rise

UN payment conditional


Caught on campus

Quality of college education falls

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

College faculty and students may feel a pinch as the quality of their education decreases, according to a recent study by a Western professor.

The study, entitled "Voices From The Classroom:The Ontario Colleges and the Question of Quality," concluded the quality of education at Ontario's 24 colleges has been sinking during the 1990s, said sociology professor and author of the study, Jerry White.

The survey, which was released Monday at Queen's Park, surveyed 517 college professors, librarians and administrators and found that although college enrollment increased 7.8 per cent, operating funds decreased 20.9 per cent, White said.

He added the amount of full time teachers, capital expenditures and number of weeks spent in the classroom all plummeted, while indicators, such as faculty contact time with students outside the classroom, also decreased. "The conclusion we drew was a decline in the quality of education in colleges in the 1990s," White said.

Many of the study's findings came as no surprise to Richard Johnston, president of Centennial College in Toronto, who said colleges currently face a severe underfunding challenge. "The reality is we can't meet the needs of students in as effective a way as the government wants with the money we're given."

However, Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, defended the government's record for funding. "There was a cutback to funding back in '96, but provincial funding for colleges has reached $3.5 billion and this year it will top $4 billion – that's the most it's ever been," she said.

But Jason Kerr, president of the Fanshawe College's Students' Union, said the school is experiencing capital shortages and higher class sizes.

"Even when I was in school last year, the average class would have 30 people in it, but by the time I left it was closer to 40. It's not just that – it's the facilities as well. Sometimes we don't even have enough chairs," Kerr said.

Steve Quinlan, president of Seneca College in Toronto, said the quality of education colleges provide is not necessarily being victimized by the lack of resources. He referred to a 1996 survey stating six per cent of college students were dissatisfied with the education they were receiving. "When only six per cent of 81,000 students are unhappy, that seems to say to me that we're offering a pretty high level of quality."

White said the report calls for several initiatives. "All I've said to the government is to re-resource the system, particularly since the double co-hort is unprepared for, to give professors more control over curriculum and a better environment, i.e. better classrooms and libraries," Quinlan said.

Delaney added since funding for the post-secondary education system is still in its second year of a two year framework, no announcements have been made on future action plans for the institutions.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999