Born and raised in Saskatchewan, I have always been proud of the University of Saskatchewan.
Yet I am currently alarmed by the changes proposed for the College of Arts and Science at the U of S.
Setting a deadline of 2014, College Administration proposes that, in the Fine Arts and Humanities Unit of the Arts and Science College, faculty research output must rise 20 per cent by 2016 while at the same time, sessional lecturers currently teaching first year classes would be let go.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I am now and have been for 20 years a sessional teaching first year classes for the Department of English.
In order for faculty to meet their goal while teaching more, the college urges that graduate students and senior undergraduates help teach first year students. Graduate and undergraduate students are hardworking and motivated, but they are trying to finish their own degrees.
Taking responsibility for the education of first year students would be, to say the least, burdensome. Administration also proposes further increases in class-size; fewer classes offered to students; instruction in 50 per cent of classes done by webcast, video conferencing or “flipped classrooms” where the class consists of tutorials (student-led) with a lecture as something extra.
Administration wishes to partner the Humanities Departments of the universities in Regina and Saskatoon. If a class is offered by the University of Regina or even another university in Western Canada, will it still be offered by the University of Saskatchewan?
I am not aware of any study showing that such methods improve teaching or learning. With tuition costs rising, are students not getting less while paying more? These sweeping changes will affect all Saskatchewan students who choose to attend their own provincial university.
Given their impact, should these proposed changes have been more widely publicized and discussed?
Public funding deserves public discussion.