The Student/Faculty Ratio

There's a pretty clear trend in the student/faculty ratio that's been happening since the 1980s: it's increasing. In other words, there are fewer instructors to deal with more students. That means class sizes are increasing, right? Possibly yes, but not necessarily.

Huh? How can that be? The key word above is "faculty." This term is defined as (technically): "Full Time Equivalent continuing faculty." Don't worry about the Full Time Equivalent business--the "continuing faculty" part is the most important. This term means tenured or tenure-track faculty (in other words, Professors). This term does not include contract academic staff (in other words, me).

Although I don't have specific data, I know that the number of contract academic staff (CAS) has increased substantially over the past decade or two. Here's the situation, using last year's data. There are about 2,200 continuing faculty at the UofA. There are over 800 CAS--who are not counted in the student/faculty ratio.

I've read that the student/faculty ratio this year is around 22.2:1. So, for every professor, there are over 22 students. But if you factor in CAS, that number goes to 16.3 or so. The University, however, does not count me or my CAS colleagues--we don't exist. Literally, I don't count. (To be fair to the UofA, no institution counts their contract/sessional staff in the s/f ratio. Why not? I dunno.)

Despite the fact that I'm a nobody, I'm not too depressed. Students talk to me as if I actually existed. Plus, I get paid actual money. But I wish I were more valued. I've got a solution to this, by the way: get rid of CAS. No, don't fire us--give us continuing positions (called "conversion"). Until then, I will continue to haunt the hallways and classrooms as a ghost...

Why aren't you studying?


SImon said...

awww~ you exist in our memories as a teacher, an inspiration and a very funny man

so what are the difference between CAS and profs?

in my experience you are the best lecturer I've ever had .

Karsten Loepelmann said...

@SImon: Thanks for the kind words. I've written about the difference between CAS and professors in The Faculty Lecturer. Hope that helps.

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