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The Daily Wildcat

Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Educated generation

Acquiring a university degree isn’t supposed to be easy, but the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that 27.5 percent of America’s population completed at least a bachelor’s degree. This figure is in sharp contrast to the numbers of students completing the same degree even a few decades ago. At the UA alone, enrollment has increased from 12,518 in 1960 to approximately 38,800 this year, according to the UA Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support.

Does this drastic increase signify Arizonans have developed a greater interest in the world of academia?

This discrepancy can partly be attributed to the ease with which women can now seek a university education, as well as the greater scope of choices offered to young people now. But the main reason almost a third of Americans now hold a bachelor’s degree is there has been constant growth in the number of places accommodating more and more students passing through the system. Universities tout increased enrollment, omitting the detrimental effect that a greater number of students are going to have on everyone’s education.

With extra seats in classrooms comes pressure on teachers to shuffle us through courses at the expense of our learning experience. The difficulty in maintaining the quality of our education comes primarily from two sources: professors’ lack of commitment to teaching and the need to acquire funding determined by full-time equivalents. The cumulative number of full-time equivalents dictates the amount of funding the UA receives. House Bill 2012, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, states, “”the total … enrollment shall be the basis of providing state aid””. Essentially, more units equal more money.

UA President Robert Shelton has stated, “”ASU has, appropriately, received a lot of enrollment increase money because they’ve increased enrollment. They should get that money; fair is fair.”” His comment suggests that ASU, regardless of the quality of education it offers, deserves these funding increases just because of student numbers.

The UA is following suit. University administrators have to reconcile these budget cuts and consequently, students have become little more than commodities to secure funding.

Professors have an ethical obligation to teach and, in doing so, teach us to learn. This does not involve spoon-feeding us answers and yet, this is the experience students have come to expect: to absorb only enough information in class to enable them to do an assignment. Sadly, professors are generally happy to deliver if it means they aren’t forced to contend with complaints from students and the administration about poor grades.

The sheer amount of time it takes to resolve a dispute over a grade with a student is often time that professors can’t afford. There is hope yet, but all professors must recommit themselves to making us into better thinkers and learners. As long as students continue to demand to be allowed to pass classes whose requirements we have failed to fulfill, students are the ones who will lose.

Just as professors must grade us according to the merits of our work rather than university politics and funding needs, we must also demand that our educators educate. We should be challenged and made to work hard for our degrees, rather than thinking tuition payments entitle us to receive credits.

Enabling students to pass even when they skip in-class material is a mistake. Cramming 1000 students into a hall and essentially annihilating the potential for any real discussion is a mistake. A campus where students video stream their lectures at home and take zero pride in their work because minimal effort is expected of them will completely and irreparably alter the university experience for the worse.

If we continue to tolerate the damaging effect these budget cuts will have on our education, the UA will become another contributing factor to creating the dumbest highly “”educated”” generation, ever. And that’s nothing to be proud of.

­—Dunja Nedic is an Australian exchange student. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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