Where quality is job number 9,657

By Ivan Danielewicz

Class sizes, course content, adequate resources and support, level of teaching, and class locations are all issues that help to judge the quality of education.

The quality of education on campus has become a central issue at the University of Calgary. With tuition talks between the Students’ Union and the U of C’s administration just around the corner, the issue of quality of education on campus has become a hot topic.

“I think that quality of education is hard to define,” said Students’ Union President Bryan West. “I think that the university realizes that it provides a good quality of education, but not great. At the same time, I think it’s attempting to move forward.”

SU Vice-President Academic Laura Schultz, agrees that quality is hard to define.

“Quality is such an intangible subject that is usually overlooked,” explained Schultz. “It is an important concept that effects every student.”

Last year, the university gave the SU $1 million to spend on increasing the quality of education at the university. Most of the money went into a program helping professors learn how to teach more effectively.

“Most teachers haven’t gone through any teaching programs other then to fulfill the universities teaching requirement,” argues West. “There needs to be a better balance between research and teaching.”

At the Students’ Academic Assembly on Tue., Sept. 28 U of C President Harvey Weingarten and U of C VP Academic Ron Bond, showed up to talk about the quality of education on campus.

“We are a research university not a research institution,” stated Bond. “Research exists to fuel teaching. We have chairs that are good at research but we insist that they teach well also.”

Bond went on to say that the quality of education was a job that the students can help them maintain.

“If you want to find out what the quality of a restaurant is, you ask the people who eat there,” argued Bond. “You should tell us what the food tastes like.”

To deal with the issue of education quality at the university, the SU is designing a survey to measure to quality of education.

“We are trying to create a quality index so we can measure all the different aspects like class sizes and teaching levels so that we can give it to the university administration,” said West. “We are using the quality survey from last year as a base.”

With the results from the survey the SU hopes to put together a proposal to give administration.

“Even now we know we have to improve,” stated Weingarten. “Our students don’t feel as engaged, or as cared-for as they should. But we aren’t going to get there in a year.”

One has to worry that time always seems to be a factor when dealing with the quality of education, however, if the university administration has the best interests of students in mind we should have nothing to fear.