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July 20, 2014 | by  | in Homepage News |
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Students Swamp Staff

The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) has called on politicians to address rising lecturer–student ratios.

Figures released by the Ministry of Education show an increase in the ratios between 2008 and 2012.

In 2008, there were 227,920 tertiary students to 12,739 staff members, or a ratio of 17.9 students per member of staff.

In 2012, student numbers had risen to 243,969 while staff numbers had fallen to 12,711, increasing the ratio to 19.2 students per member of staff.

At Victoria in 2013, there were 15,595 EFTS (equivalent full-time students), and an EFTS/teaching staff ratio of 20:1.

The OECD average for student-to-staff ratio is 15.6:1.

Tertiary Education Union President Lesley Francey said the increasing ratio “means lower-quality research and lower-quality education for New Zealand’s students.”

Francey believes that smaller ratios would reduce staff fatigue as well as boost academic achievement by students.

“We know that tertiary-education-sector staff are overworked with an ever-increasing number of students to teach, papers to mark, and theses to supervise.”

“Reducing the student-to-staff ratio will improve the quality of research our academics produce and increase the time teachers can spend with each student.”

The TEU called on political parties to commit to a ceiling of 19 students per staff member by 2015, a move which they say would cost an extra $12 million a year.

Professor Penny Boumelha, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), said ratios were “only one contributor to student success. Victoria University considers a range of ways of evaluating and improving the quality of learning and teaching.”

Among the factors listed were the number of contact hours per course, the course or programme design, level of student engagement, and quality feedback to students.

“Whether any additional funding from the government would have any effect on ratios would depend in part on the basis on which the funding was made available.”

Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce declined to comment to Salient.

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