July 08, 2008

More on Florida State University's Budgetary Meltdown

Imagine being one of these people:

In January of this year English had two advisors for its 1,589 majors, and during the first four days of drop/add those two advisors saw nearly 500 students. If you do the math, it's about eight minutes per student, assuming the advisors never take a break.
How about being a student trying to study a specialized subject? Fuhgetabowdit:
And we are reducing the number of classes we offer in specialized areas, since those are less likely to enroll to capacity.
Those two quotes are by Ralph Berry, chair of Florida State's English Department, as quoted in Budget cuts impact students, which appears in the current edition of FSView. Some of the other austerity measures mentioned in the article:
  • Teaching assistants no longer have telephones in their offices. Neither does about a third of the faculty.
  • Faculty is being overloaded on teaching classes.
  • Paper and photocopying is being rationed.
The most telling fact cited by Berry is this:
...the FSU English Department now has 1,589 majors and 201 graduate students, which makes it about the size of Rollins College. Rollins has 173 faculty to teach that many students. Our department has 48.
Including graduate students, that's a student-to-faculty ratio of 38:1, which equates to a nearly impossible situation for all involved (cf. this entry from January).

How long will it be until the situation improves? At this point, even the apartment rental market in the state is hurting. Perhaps the situation will ultimately be resolved not by increased faculty or resources at FSU and other state universities but by falling enrollment numbers as students look elsewhere for a college degree and families concerned with the availability of public education leave the state. Low tuition ceases to be a bargain when it doesn't net an education in return. Overall, the state doesn't provide many services to residents in comparison to others resulting in a low cost of living overall but a very poor standard of living for much of the population. When people can do better elsewhere, that's exactly where they'll go.

I'll be visiting FSU in September. I wonder if the changes will be perceptible.

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