Canberra Times | 6 August 2013
The Australian National University has agreed to review its decision to cancel tutorials in its College of the Arts and Social Sciences CASS), following widespread opposition from undergraduates and postgraduates as well as the National Tertiary Education Union.
Students within the college were informed last Wednesday (31 July) an executive decision had been made to phase out tutorials in favour of large interactive workshops and forums with CASS Associate Dean Royston Gustavson saying:
Such a model reconfigures current contact hours in a way that is intended to have a positive educational impact. Such forums/workshops are typically run by the course lecturer, rather than tutors, thereby giving students a significantly increased opportunity to interact with their lecturer. Nevertheless, it is recognised that any change can be difficult for those going through it.
He also warned that for courses that continued to use tutorials, ”funding constraints may see tutorial sizes increase from 15 to 20 students, but such a tutorial size has been standard in some other parts of the university for many years.”
The decision sparked criticism from students concerned the change would impact the quality of education on offer and from the NTEU.
Now ANU deputy vice-chancellor (Academic) Marnie Hughes-Warrington will head up a review of the change which will be given to university management next month.
NTEU ACT Divisional Secretary, Stephen Darwin said that although the NTEU welcomed
…..this hasty retreat from the ill-considered decision to reduce student engagement, the proposed review must also consider the actual reason which prompted it – the chronic underfunding of the College which meant it simply had no tutorial budget for 2014. Quality education requires proper funding, not the forced compromises which are the inevitable outcome of ever-reducing budgets.