Science being dissected after cutbacks

By Annalise Klingbeil

Budget cuts in the faculty of science have affected students who have noticed changes in lab frequency, their ability to dissect certain organisms and the need to now purchase their own equipment which had been previously provided by the faculty.

Faculty of science representative Matt Steele has heard from students about the budget cuts, which are in the neighbourhood of 3.5 per cent, and he said both himself and faculty share students’ concerns.

“A few students have asked me about the changes and they were upset that the quality of their education might suffer due to budgetary constraints,” said Steele.

“The cuts for this year [2009/2010] are in the area of 3.5 per cent and the faculty has been working to reduce expenditures elsewhere and increase revenue generation in order to decrease the costs that might be borne by students,” Steele said. “Unfortunately, the current fiscal situation does make such cuts necessary.”

Cynthia Karl, vice president events of the biology students’ association, said she’s noticed the budget cuts as well, now having to make purchases she hadn’t been required to before.

“This semester I was asked to buy some of my own lab equipment,” said Karl.

Steele said science students are “certainly affected by the budget cuts” and have specifically noticed changes to labs.

“The main area in which students have seen this is in cuts to lab budgets around the faculty,” said Steele.

Science students have seen laboratory time decreasing dramatically this semester, with some previously weekly lab components now held bi-weekly.

Steele said the decreased lab times concern students because experiential learning in the form of labs is an important compliment to classroom work.

Vishal Varshney, a science student, said while he’s noticed a reduction in lab time, he has seen no differences in class size or the faculty’s quality of instruction.

“I believe that the faculty of science professors are some of the best on campus, and are great at conveying lecture material,” said Varshney.

The third-year biological science major said he is missing the lab components of his classes.

“I believe that hands-on learning and evidence-based learning through experiments are the most effective way of learning science. It’s easy to talk about certain procedures/cellular mechanisms, but to see them in a lab setting is more effective, and we are not getting as much exposure to this with reduced labs.”

Scott Irvine, a third-year biology major, said he has not observed any differences in the faculty of science due to budget cuts.

“Had teachers at the school not mentioned it, I really wouldn’t have noticed,” said Irvine.

Irvine said the only difference he can think of is having to print off question sheets himself, instead of having them provided, for a zoology lab.

“This isn’t an inconvenience,” said Irvine.

In the department of biological sciences, a total of eight courses with labs have moved from being held weekly to bi-weekly, said Steele.

According to Steele, the budgetary concerns are “not a recent development” and the practice of changing laboratory components has been used in the past to help reduce program related costs.

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