UCF population bigger, not better
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 14:09
Last week, UCF celebrated a population record of 60,000 students, a seemingly brag-worthy accomplishment. Or is it? Some other Florida university scholars don’t seem to think so. Florida State University scholar Robert Schwartz compared UCF’s methods of teaching and its burgeoning population to that of supermarket giant Walmart.
“Like Walmart, the more the better becomes a key issue. So UCF is fulfilling a business plan that more is better, and 60,000 students is viewed positively from that perspective,” Schwartz told the Orlando Sentinel.
President John C. Hitt and administration uphold UCF’s goal to provide education to a diverse range of students. The reality, however, is that with students sitting in classes where the student-to-professor ratio tops Florida’s university system chart at 31-to-1, students aren’t receiving the attention needed and professors aren’t equipped with funding or enough time to successfully teach that many students. The national average is 18-to-1.
Large classes like these are a disservice to students, as they don’t adequately prepare them for the real world or today’s exceedingly competitive job market. National recognition for research programs has bolstered interest and attracted superior faculty to UCF. However, estimates from 1989 to 2007 placed UCF’s grade point average inflation at a mere 8.3 percent with an average GPA of 2.99. When compared to other public four-year institutions such as the University of Florida, which has sustained a growth of 14.5 percent in these years, evidence such as this supports the idea that UCF thrives on quantity, not quality.
UCF finance professor Stanley D. Smith has eased class requirements due to fewer instructional hours and more students per class. Intensive individual work is slowly being replaced by group work, and more in-depth essay and short-answer exams are being phased out by multiple-choice tests, which take less time to grade.
Other Florida public universities such as University of South Florida and Florida International University have scaled back and limited enrollment, a move UCF should follow. State budget cuts and tuition hikes have already placed enough of the burden on students, and if UCF doesn’t scale back its population in the coming years at least slightly, resources will continue to be drained and professors will be stretched even further. This reality is simply not fair to students.