YUSU has warned the University that many departments are now at “critical mass” and any further increase in student numbers might be to the detriment of York.
Recent figures have revealed there are almost 15,000 students currently at the University.
Tim Ellis, YUSU President, revealed in the Community Assembly last week: “Most departments are now at ‘critical mass’. We believe that any further student number expansions would negatively affect the ‘feel’ of York as a relatively small University, and that we don’t have the infrastructure or service provision to adequately cater to a higher number of students.”
Ellis told Nouse: “I strongly believe that the student experience at York would be negatively affected by any further increase in student numbers and am glad that Community Assembly agreed with this.
“I worry about the capabilities of many of the University’s services to cater for a larger student body. We have increased in size dramatically over the last five years and I believe now is the time for the University to start thinking about how the careers service, student support services, college welfare teams and other vital support services can cater more effectively for the needs of current and future students, without putting extra strain on them in the coming years with an even larger student body.”
Student numbers at York have increased dramatically over the last five years. In the University’s 2009 Development Plan, the target was to acquire this growth in the next 10 years.
A University spokesperson confirmed York is approaching the scale of student numbers expressed in the Development Plan, however, they said this will be addressed at an unspecified date.
We don’t have the infrastructure or service provision to adequately cater to a higher number of students
Tim Ellis, YUSU President
“In the context of the new undergraduate funding environment, it is, therefore, timely for us to reflect on our current size and whether further expansion of student numbers would be desirable.
“In these considerations, retaining the ‘feel’ of York and its quality of teaching and research will be central. Any future growth would clearly need to be associated with the provision of appropriate levels of support services to students and staff, together with appropriate development of the physical estate and infrastructure.”
Over the next 10 years, the Development Plan predicted the already realised 20-25 per cent growth in student numbers.
Benedict Hardwick-Grey, a first-year Sociology student, said he was worried about the effect of this on the quality of teaching at York: “You have to wonder how such big increases in numbers will affect the standard of teaching. If the University doesn’t increase staff at a level equal to the increase in student numbers, which I doubt they have the funds for, then the effect on the student to staff ratio is inevitably going to be detrimental. This could make it harder to see staff during office hours, or even affect the number of contact hours we have.”