New data released by the Ministry of Education last month shows that the average number of full-time students per full-time academic staff member at public tertiary education institutions rose slightly between 2011 and 2012 to 19.5 students to each academic. The highest recorded ratio in the ministry data was 20:1 in 2010. In 2000 the ratio of students to academic staff was just 16.2:1.
TEU national president Lesley Francey says nineteen or twenty students to each academic is too high, and puts pressure on people trying to teach and assess.
“Polytechnic trades tutors trying to teach practical skills such as plumbing don’t just stand in front of a full class and lecture. They need to get around their students, talk to them, and help them. With that number of students it’s impossible to deliver the quality of teaching that our members want to deliver. Meanwhile we hear stories of some tutors in universities with tutorials of 60 or more students. That’s not a tutorial, that’s a lecture.”
The ministry derives its statistics from information that tertiary education institutions provided to it in August last year. Surprisingly the results differ from similar statistics derived from the institutions’ own 2011 annual reports, in which universities and polytechnics report having more academics and thus lower student:staff ratios.