Re: Editorial Oct. 10, 2013, on the Times Higher Education rankings and teaching at UVic
UVic continues to be one of the top ranked universities in the world and can be justifiably proud of the quality of teaching for its students. It is important to note, as the editorial correctly describes it, the THE rankings do not measure teaching itself but use the proxies of student faculty ratio, how ‘graduate intensive’ a university is (i.e. the ratio of PhD students to undergraduates), and survey results from faculty around the world who might not be familiar with an institution’s teaching.
Compared to other Canadian universities, UVic has a very good student-faculty ratio. Although graduate programs have grown at UVic, we have not increased PhD enrolment as fast as other universities, wanting to ensure a focus on the quality of the undergraduate experience. We care about what students say and make decisions based on their feedback. Faculty and instructors, as a whole, receive very high marks on the Course Experience Survey administered in every class and used to review performance. Also, UVic participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement that measures not only student satisfaction but also the extent to which students and faculty are engaged in learning. This information is used extensively in the regular review of academic programs. Finally, every year we survey our graduates on the overall quality of instruction at UVic, and compared to other B.C. universities, our graduates are the most satisfied.
UVic faculty, staff and administrators are committed to a successful student experience. UVic has one of the most intensive TA training programs, which positively impacts almost every undergraduate student. Dedicated, well-trained tutors work every day to serve thousands of students in the Math Help Centre and the Writing Centre. The Learning and Teaching Centre provides hundreds of workshops and retreats a year, working with faculty and students to increase teaching effectiveness, enhance the learning environment, foster innovative educational practices, and revise curriculum to ensure programs are well designed and support student learning outcomes. Many instructors use innovative teaching approaches and new technologies to engage students with material in new and more accessible ways. Having reviewed many teaching dossiers and worked with faculty in a wide variety of venues as they discuss, debate, develop and showcase teaching at UVic, I know how passionate, gifted and committed they are to their students’ success.
Catherine Mateer PhD
AVP Academic Planning Office of the V.P. Academic and Provost