Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Teaching Space at a Premium

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact djabbour@ausu.org

TEACHING SPACE AT A PREMIUM
Debbie Jabbour

In spite of the fact that university enrolment in Canada has grown from 130,000 to 784,000 students over the past three years, a recent survey has shown that research laboratories are being built faster than classrooms at most universities in Canada. In some universities the ratio between research space and teaching space is 8 square meters to 1. Government funding is not keeping pace with inflation and enrollment growth. At the same time, governments do funnel large sums of money into targeted research infrastructure projects through organizations such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which represent some 3.65 million dollars of research building.

Another fallout from limited government funding and the focus on research is deferred maintenance. On some university campuses, older buildings are falling apart as repairs and maintenance are put off year after year. Even libraries are feeling the pinch. Universities are also looking for the prestige brought about by research, at the expense of the undergraduates who have become the “heavy-lifting of the university world” (Schmidt, 2005). Space for teaching continues to be at a premium, with admissions requirements becoming increasingly stringent.

Athabasca University is also facing serious funding shortfalls and infrastructure problems. It is possible, however, that more high school graduates will start to see AU as viable option for full time studies when they are unable to find learning space at one of the on-campus universities.

Schmidt, S. (2005). Research trumps teaching: All those building cranes you see on campus? Chances are they’re not for building classrooms (Ottawa). Instructional space will be at a premium (Edmonton). Insight, the Edmonton Journal, January 15, 2005.

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