College enrollment has fallen about 20% since 2010, according to Trib Live. Whether it is because of high tuition costs or general disinterest, every year fewer students decide to seek higher education.
In order to balance the budget, Pennsylvania universities were directed by Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s (PASSHE) Chancellor Daniel Greenstein to reduce the number of temporary employees in order to support permanent faculty. This will decrease the number of adjunct professors and other provisional positions.
PASSHE’s mission is to encourage individuals who seek higher education to enroll in one of its 14 universities.
However, because PASSHE’s enrollment rate is decreasing, so are its finances. Universities need to cope with these mandates by making cuts and accommodations for the directives.
Higher education administrators need to prioritize having sufficient faculty. With fewer adjuncts, the student population is divided into an insubstantial number of classes.
Class sizes matter. Professors are unable to effectively teach and students have more difficulty learning in large lecture hall settings. Instructors are unable to cater to each student’s needs because of the contrasting ratio.
The low ratio between students and professors is what sets SU apart from larger private universities.
At larger schools, courses are offered in lecture halls with hundreds of students. For most of us at SU, our largest general education classes are around 40 students.
SU’s student to faculty ratio is 20:1. This number is similar across the State System. PASSHE schools offer a personal experience and the ability to build personal relationships.
At SU, students are more than a number. We have the opportunity to get to know our professors during office hours. How can we develop those same bonds when professors are burdened with twice or three times as many students as they should have?
When there are fewer students in a classroom, there is more time for interaction and conversation. The most enriching classes are the ones in which the professor knows all of the students’ names and each student has the opportunity to contribute to classroom discussions.
When professors spend more time planning and grading, students have to rely on peer tutors to learn class concepts. This makes relationships between professors and students harder to build.
The burden falls on students to teach each other course material when professors are too busy advising other students and conducting research. While the salaries of peer tutors are cheaper than professors, they are simply students. They lack years of expertise, research and education. It is not the job of students to teach their peers.
While it is important to balance the budget, the quality of students’ education must be kept in check. The value of a Shippensburg education stems from the hard work of our professors. They are the ones on the front lines everyday.
PASSHE needs to find a sustainable way to run its universities, but removing full-time and adjunct faculties, who students rely on every day, is not the answer.
To voice your opinion on the future of PASSHE, attend the chancellor’s open forum in the Old Main Chapel at 11 a.m. on Feb. 27.