Of all the consequences that the budget cuts have had on Tech, the increase in the student-to-faculty ratio is by far the most troubling. Increased class sizes and reduced interaction with the faculty hurts students’ ability to learn and damages the learning community at large. While the importance of making sure Tech will continue grow and prosper is unquestionable, it would be irresponsible to let this current problem go unresolved.
There are vast human resources at GTRI that could be harnessed to alleviate the situation at hand. Many, if not all, of these researchers have invaluable amounts knowledge that they could translate into classroom instruction. Such a shift could also open up the opportunities for new and innovative teaching methods.
The opportunity to partner with industry could also help remedy the problem. By shifting classroom projects into real world challenges, industry would reap the benefits of novel ideas from a new generation of minds. This model could also allow a new avenue for revenue for the Institute as a firm which has at its disposal a large reservoir of young and inspired workers. Such a model should be adapted into senior design classes, giving students a true real world experience.
There are also ways to exacerbate the problem that also must be avoided. These budget issues should not be dumped on the students. Continuing to increase tuition and fees will put higher education out of reach for more people. In similar fashion, the futility of claiming to leverage technology instead of finding capable faculty hinders the learning community.
While Tech’s financial health and the health of the Institute as a whole, are heavily intertwined, Tech must realize that it has a greater responsibility than simply being an education-providing business. Tech, its students and the faculty are all partners in the pursuit of higher education.