Student-faculty ratio still missing

Increasing class sizes and the imbalance between the number of students and the faculty members responsible for educating them remains an issue at Laurier. Funding and enrolment values clash and both groups are left in the dark about the details.

Laurier is unique among Canadian universities in the inclusion of a required student-faculty of 25:1 in the collective agreement between the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association (WLUFA) and the school administration. This requirement ensures that faculty are not overwhelmed with an inordinate number of students; hiring professors to support growth and Laurier’s reputation as a smaller university with smaller class sizes and individual attention is maintained.

“Other schools are jealous that we have that in our agreement,” said president of WLUFA Judy Bates.

The requirement in the collective agreement means that if a 25:1 student-faculty ratio is not met, the school is fined the equivalent of how much it would have paid the required faculty, had they been hired and teaching. In the most recent agreement, effective 2008, there have been changes that affect the ratio and access to information for students and faculty.

The previous collective agreement, effective July 2005 to 2008, stated that the school would provide WLUFA “by December 1, an initial report on … student/faculty ratios,” followed by “February 15, a final report.” In the current agreement, there is no longer any commitment to provide any numbers until March 1.

As well as pushing back publication of the ratio, the ratio was increased. Though the previous agreement stated an intention to lower the ratio to 21:1, it actually increased from 23:1 students to faculty to 25:1.

According to Bates, there is no reason the school cannot provide a report during the fall semester as an indicator of class size and growth. “It would be possible. It’s only under the collective agreement that they have to provide it yearly and they don’t want to have to – we’re forcing them to.”

When asked if the school had exceeded the 25:1 ratio this year – which is only a prediction at this point since no numbers will be made available until March – Bates replied “quite possibly,” adding that “they wanted to lift [the ratio] to something much higher.”

When this year’s student-faculty ratio is released March 1, students and professors will have a better idea of how well the school is faring regarding growth and financial issues.

Enrolment increases

In 2007, PS100 had 1,519 students in five sections.
-In 2009, 1,820 students were in the class over the same number of sections – an extra sixty students in each class.
-Over the same period, BU111 increased by 122 students over nine classes, or 14 students each.

Laurier vs. other universities

In 2007-08, the University of Toronto had a ratio of 22.3:1.
-The Université de Montréal recorded a mere 16 students to each faculty member.

Laurier’s debt accumulation

Laurier ranked third among all eighteen universities in Ontario in terms of how much debt the school has accumulated in proportion to the number of students attending, an article in Friday’s National Post reported. According to a 2008 report on the staggering $2.6 Billion in debt the province’s universities carry, Laurier placed only behind the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Lakehead University, racking up $11,100 in debt for each student enrolled for a total of more than $163,000.

Ratio confusion

Last year, numbers show an overall ratio of 22.9:1 students to faculty, nearly exceeding the required amount of 23:1 under the old agreement.
-There is also considerable variation between faculties
-35.3:1 ratio on the Brantford campus
-11:1 ratio in the faculties of music and social work
-The faculties of arts and business exceeded a 25:1 ratio and each approached 30:1

By the numbers

22.3:1

University of Toronto faculty-staff ratio

22.9:1

Laurier’s 2008-09 faculty-staff ratio

1,519

Students enrolled in PS100 in 2007

1,820

Students enrolled in PS100 in 2009

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