The universities say the problem is money.

Want to know why professors don’t teach?

The Globe and mail

Iwent to university back in the golden age. Our classes were small and many of our professors were creative and enthusiastic. They even marked our papers themselves. There was lots of scope for what is now known as “engagement,” which means that although we were undergraduates, some of them were happy to hang around with us drinking coffee, smoking dope and arguing about Blake and life…

Meantime, the dropout rate is at an all-time high. At the University of Manitoba, about 30 per cent of all students drop out in their first year. Only 56 per cent finish their degrees within six years. That’s not unusual. Universities are rewarded for getting bums in seats, not for educating and graduating them.

The universities say the problem is money. If only they had more of it, they could do a better job of educating undergraduates. There’s just one catch. Educating undergraduates is just about the last thing most professors want to do.

“My colleagues do everything they can to get out of teaching,” says Rod Clifton, who works in the faculty of education at the University of Manitoba.

Mr. Clifton’s proposition is that universities are unaccountable for results, if, by results, you mean successfully educating students. That is because they are run for the benefit of professors. In the reward system of universities, it’s research, not teaching, that matters. Professors are rewarded not for turning out high-quality graduates, but for turning out books and papers – even if they are unread. This perverse system stubbornly persists, despite the fact that everyone knows it’s absurd.


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