Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Compare and contrast

Does Canada lack global ambition?
"We don’t have enough time on task, we don’t have enough days in the year, we don’t have enough hours in the day. We don’t have enough emphasis on science and math. We don’t have a high enough standard for literacy, an encouragement for people to be literate and numerate when they graduate. The people [teachers] who perform the most precious job in our society and economy are not rewarded for success nor punished for failure.

So mediocrity is protected and excellence is not rewarded. At the university level, I think we have high quality institutions but again I would say that we tend to be very constrained by collective agreements. Fewer and fewer days in the year are actually spent teaching."

University considers cutting semesters from 13 weeks to 12
SSMU VP Abaki pushes for the change, arguing that McGill students work harder than their peers

The McGill administration is currently considering a number of changes to the university's academic calendar, including a proposal to shorten the lengths of the fall and winter semesters by reducing the number of hours students are in contact with their professors.

Standard McGill classes currently give students three hours of contact with instructors per week for 13 weeks, for a total of 39 hours per semester. The proposal, which is being considered by the Working Group on Calendars and Dates, a subgroup of McGill Senate's Committee on Enrolment and Student Affairs, would reduce the required number of contact hours to 36 per semester.

Students' Society Vice-President University Affairs Joshua Abaki has pushed for the changes, arguing that McGill students must work harder than their peers at other universities. According to Abaki, McGill is the only member of the G-13—a group of research-focused universities in Canada—that requires 39 hours.


It may be of interest here to note that McGill's faculties are not unionized.

Concerning the astonishing student complaint that they are getting too much teaching for their dollar, it is perhaps also worth noting that in-province tuition for Quebec universities is far lower than equivalent tuition is at other G13 universities.

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value." Thomas Paine.

1 comment:

Samantha Brennan said...

I've noticed the differences for awhile and I make sure to mention them when recruiting academics from outside Canada, esp. the US. They teach 3 10 week quarters or two 15 week semesters. We teach two 13 week semesters. That's a month less teaching and more time for research. But you're right to ask, at whose expense. And over time, say over the course of a 4 year degree, it makes a difference.