The university has been in a hiring freeze for a few years, only bringing in new staff and faculty members to fill existing vacancies. This practice, coupled with an annual increase in student enrollment, is jeopardizing the quality of student education.
Classrooms begin overflowing when student growth outpaces the hiring of instructors. Students in art history classes can be found sitting on the floor and on stairs, and dozens of extra desks and tables are being brought into lecture halls to accommodate the population influx. Those who take notes from the ground or from the stairs are paying the same tuition as any other student and are entitled to equal access to classroom resources. Texas State’s inability to hire more faculty members is negatively affecting student education.
The average class size is 27 people, even though the Office of University Marketing webpage reports that the university has a 20-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Texas State ranked dead last in the state in 2009 with a 29-1 student-to-faculty ratio, and enrollment has only grown larger since then. Other emerging research universities such as the University of Texas-Dallas and the University of North Texas have student-to-faculty ratios of 19-1 and 20-1 respectively. Smaller class sizes allow professors to give more one-on-one attention, and students will benefit from the increased attention.
Texas State has made up for the shortage of instructors by increasing class sizes and utilizing graduate students to help teach classes. However, employing teacher assistants and student instructors can only go so far—at a certain point, the legitimacy of the institution comes into question. Students should not be paying large amounts of money to be taught from a haphazard network of overflowing classrooms and filler instructors.
There are a lot of issues demanding the time, attention and—most scarce and important of all—the money of this institution. Financial aid awards are decreasing, and the university is knee-deep in several large construction projects. Parking and buses are also a daily headache, and more emphasis is continuing to be placed on Texas State’s athletics. All of these aspects are incredibly important to the future of the institution, but the editorial board believes that education should still come first. Hiring more instructors is the first step that needs to be addressed.
Lowering the average class size will allow instructors to better serve students, who should feel like more than just a number. There are many challenges on Texas State’s horizon, but the quality of education and the importance of the instructors cannot be overlooked.