FAQ’s From and For Ontario Tech Students: How Do UOITFA Issues Affect Students?

The UOITFA has been hearing a lot of questions from students about current negotiations between the Faculty Association and University. We wanted to compile these questions to help inform students as much as possible, and address commonly asked questions the various ways faculty bargaining issues directly impact students and their learning experiences at Ontario Tech.

How will a strike or lockout deadline affect me?

The Faculty Association put together a helpful FAQ on strike related issues when we announced our strike mandate vote. You can find that FAQ by clicking here. If you scroll down to the section entitled Strike Mandate Vote: FAQ for Ontario Tech Students and Community Members, there are some answers to commonly asked questions like what a strike mandate is and how a potential strike could impact classes.

The Faculty Association will continue to share as much information as we can as we learn more. Please follow along on our social media for further updates as information becomes available.

How do negotiations affect my learning environment and experience?

The quality of education at Ontario Tech University is directly impacted by discussions between the Faculty Association and the University at the bargaining table. Faculty at Ontario Tech have some of the worst workload provisions in the country and this has a direct impact on student learning conditions. When workload provisions worsen through increased class sizes or less Teaching Assistant support, that means Faculty have less time for the work needed to ensure that you are receiving the best possible education.

Bargaining proposals being advanced by the Faculty Association include improvements to the student-faculty ratio, smaller class sizes, increased opportunities for student supervision, increased TA support and growth of student employment opportunities, and maintaining more time and space for faculty to share with students.

What does it mean to improve the student-faculty ratio at Ontario Tech?

Did you know that Ontario Tech University has among the highest student-to-faculty ratio in the country? High student-to-faculty ratios mean that faculty members have less time to spend with each individual student, which makes it harder for them to give each of you the time and attention you deserve.

Ontario Tech University is ranked second last in the category in the Maclean’s ranking for student-to-faculty ratios. The Maclean’s rankings can be found here. This means that students at Ontario Tech are getting less time with their professors and instructors than at almost any other University in Canada even though students pay similar tuition fees.

The Association is therefore calling on the university administration to ensure Ontario Tech students get the same time and attention from faculty members as students at other universities in Canada.

Why is class size a bargaining issue?

Faculty Members care about their students, and the quality of the education they receive. Many universities and other Faculty Associations across the country have agreed to address workload issues through things like class size limits to ensure faculty members are able to give you the time and attention you deserve.

There has been a disturbing trend of increasing class sizes at Ontario Tech.  Since 2016, the number of large classes (101 or more students) have increased by 30% for first year students. Large classes for fourth year students (61 or more students) have gone up by 33% according to the University’s Factbooks.

If your professor’s class size has doubled or tripled and they are taking on the additional work associated with that, with little to no additional support to help, what are the chances they can take the time to meaningfully engage with you and provide you with the insights you need to be successful? Most Faculty find the time to engage anyway but that often means they are taking time away from their other work duties like research and often their families. It shouldn’t have to be this way. You pay an extraordinary amount of money for the education you receive from Ontario Tech, so shouldn’t it be the best quality education possible? 

The Association is therefore asking the university administration to invest in quality education and provide more opportunities for faculty members to get to know you and meet your learning needs.

What do increased opportunities for student supervision mean?

Students should have ample opportunity to work one-on-one or in small groups on areas of interest to them. This includes things like capstone projects, undergraduate theses, graduate theses, independent study or directed reading courses.

While it takes just as much time to develop curriculum for an individual or small group of students as it does to lecture to hundreds of students at a time, the Faculty Association believes that faculty members should have the time to offer you these small group and individual learning experiences if you want them especially given how important these opportunities are for students and their education here at Ontario Tech. Smaller groups and individual projects provide great networking opportunities and real world experience for students.

How can bargaining between the Faculty Association and University create more employment opportunities for students?

Did you know that many of your Teaching Assistants are also Ontario Tech students? Hiring more TA’s means more student employment opportunities. TA’s offer critical support to faculty members and students; more TA’s mean more people available to address and respond to your questions and needs in your courses.

Faculty members also create jobs for students as research assistants, internships, practicum opportunities, assistantships, and experiential/volunteer opportunities and provide important mentorship and guidance for students as they embark on their chosen career paths. When faculty members have more time to dedicate to their research and secure research funding, they are also able to create more opportunities to hire more Ontario Tech University students.

How does bargaining relate to having more time and space?

As outlined above, the Faculty Association has a number of proposals on the bargaining table that would allow your professors the time to better meet your learning needs and priorities. In addition to this, faculty members require private space where they store your private and confidential information such as tests, exams and assignments, accommodation information, and where they can meet with you in a confidential environment upon request if you have any private issues you’d like to discuss with them. We are seeking to protect faculty’s need for space that would allow them to store information and speak with you, either virtually or in person, and to maintain your privacy and confidentiality rights.

Any more questions for us? Reach Out and Let Us Know!!

Do you have any questions that haven’t been addressed here? We love hearing from our students, and so please get in touch at us at office@uoitfa.ca if you have any additional questions or concerns or would like any further information. We will continue to include frequently asked questions here if and when they arise, and we look forward to providing students and community members with future updates on negotiations.

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