Auckland University of Technology has just released annual report shows that student: staff ratios continue to rise. In 2008 there were fewer than 17 students for every full time academic staff member. By the end of 2010 there were nearly 20 students for each full time academic staff member.
TEU national president Sandra Grey says that for students an 18 percent increase in the student: staff ratio means one of two things:
“Either, students who are paying more fees can now expect 18 percent less time with their lecturers and tutors, or alternatively, they can expect to be taught by lecturers and tutors who are doing 18 percent more work than they were two years ago.”
TEU branch president John Prince says he has had many comments from colleagues over the past two or three years concerned with the increase in staff sizes and subsequent increase in workloads and reduction in one-on-one time with students.
“It’s hurting people’s work-life balance.”
Dr Grey says the combination of falling government funding for tertiary education and tertiary institutions continuing to take record numbers of students means staff numbers are not rising to keep pace with student growth.
In fact, AUT declared a record $18 million profit last year because its student roll was up five percent on the previous year, despite a government cap that limits roll growth to three percent, at the same time as AUT cut the number of full-time equivalent academic staff members.
Dr Grey says the report also shows that staff at AUT are producing more research and generating more research income than previously, and that they are teaching a higher proportion of postgraduate students, all of which indicates higher workloads.
“In the long term this strategy is not productive or sustainable” said Dr Grey.