On the one hand, the latest data from the Common University Data Ontario (CUDO) indicate the deterioration of student-faculty ratios and class sizes seem to be slowing. On the other, the slope is still downwards and indicators suggest things are worse than during the final year of the “Double Cohort.”
The Double Cohort was the bubble in enrolment created by the elimination of the Grade 13 year in Ontario. In 2011, the last year of available data, there were two more students for each full-time instructional faculty than there were in 2006, when the Double Cohort ended. With the available data, it is difficult to be as precise about class sizes, but it appears that these too are now larger than they were in 2006. CUDO discloses the number of courses within specified enrolment ranges, but not the average class size, so trends must be derived by assuming a fixed average size for each range (see below).
In 2011, first and second year courses remained virtually the same size as the year before, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, they are still eight to nine per cent higher than they were in the final year of the double cohort five years before.
At first glance, it might be good news that classes for fourth year students look to be smaller (two per cent) than they were in 2006. However, they are two per cent larger than just one year before. As the data for third year courses indicates, the increase in class sizes for entering students continues to ripple through upper years as well.
The message here is clear: Ontario needs more full-time faculty, and it needs them now. New faculty hiring will help to reduce the student-to-faculty ratio and ensure that every student is able to connect with their professors.
Source: Council of Ontario Universities and individual institutions, Common University Data Ontario
Class size assumptions
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The average is multiplied by the reported number of course sections in the corresponding range (excluding counts that include sub-sections like tutorials); the sum of the number of ostensible students is divided by the number of reported course sections.