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CBC: Underfunding higher education is hurting Manitoba’s economy

March 28, 2016 — 

As the CBC reports:

With an election coming up, proposals for new government funding are a dime a dozen. However, political ideas that will fuel Manitoba’s success in the modern knowledge-based economy are in short supply. The most direct way is to encourage innovators…

At the University of Manitoba, many science courses are allocated 50-100 hours of TA support for the whole term. At $1,500 a course, the funding for a grad student teaching assistant at the university is so low graduate students might take as many as four teaching assistant positions at once to meet their basic needs.

Due to the limited funding for teaching assistants, professors take up the slack. Instead of doing research, or answering student questions, professors prep labs and mark papers, work easily within the TAs’ capability.

Professors pressed for time, can’t spend too long grading complicated assignments. In the sciences, many students don’t write a multi-page term paper in their discipline until their third year of study. There’s just no one to grade it before then—too many students and too little time.

Provincial politicians focus on undergraduate education’s affordability. What about the quality of the education on offer? If we want graduates to become critical thinkers, capable of answering big questions and producing innovative ideas and products, we must train them in these skills and continue nurturing the critical thinkers already in our midst.

 

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