Growing University Bureaucracy Lets Down Students

In the past, the teaching faculty at my university served as academic advisers to students. Students would come to us before the beginning of the semester, we would tell them about the courses we are offering, and help them choose the courses they would enjoy the most.

Then, the university decided to hire “professional advisers”, whatever that means. These are people who have no knowledge of the courses we are offering and, what’s even worse, they are not even trying to find out. To give just one example, this semester they suggested to quite a few students that they take my course “Intro into Hispanic Civilization” (that is marked in the calendar as “Taught in English“) in order to learn to speak Spanish. I had to spend quite a lot of time explaining to the students that if they want to learn to speak the language, they are in the wrong place. Of course, the students who wanted to take an English-language course in Hispanic Civilization did not enroll in the course which was presented by the advisers as a language course.

This is annoying to me because my course is really great and it can be extremely beneficial to the right student. I should have gone to those “professional advisers” today and made a fuss but I was too sick. I will go as soon as I get better but I’m afraid I will lose too many students before that.

At first, we were glad to hear that professional advisers would take on some of our duties, but the problem is that these bureaucrats are as clueless as paper-pushers normally are. It’s just easier to do the work on one’s own than to rectify their mistakes.

11 thoughts on “Growing University Bureaucracy Lets Down Students”

  1. What the devil?
    I love my academic advisor. The first time he and I met, we talked about Yasunari Kawabata, he helped me enrol in the honours program, and he explained the best courses to take for my particular interests in literature and law. He made the transition over to UVic stress-free and very exciting, something I doubt a “professional” in that capacity would bother to do.

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  2. Yes, but this is part of adjunctification. The plan is to have fewer and fewer PhD level faculty or even full time instructors who are familiar enough with programs at the institution to be able to give good advice. These professional advisors are low paid / not as well educated but they are “trained” (but at a very low level).

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    1. These professional advisers are not adjuncts. They don’t teach anything. They are just bureaucrats. At my department, we are trying to transform an adjunct position into a tenure-line for a colleague we all appreciate. I think we will succeed.

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  3. I’ve been at colleges with all of the following options
    1. a “professional” advisor in the department dedicated to a single major
    2. faculty advising everyone
    3. “professional” advisement centralized in academic support area

    Of the three I prefer #1, the caveat of course being that you need a fairly large major to make this feasible financially.

    Advising students, while sometimes fun, is often tedious (NO I won’t select your courses for you) and incredibly time consuming. TTLAC has #2, and assigns all first years an advisor. We receive no additional compensation for advising. I do enjoy advising the history majors, and I happily navigate the intricacies of double majors for students, but am not thrilled about trying to figure out if students are on the right track to qualify for entry into a pre-health science. Students have until the end of the sophomore year to declare a major, so sometimes I’m stuck advising non-history majors for as long as two years. The ROI is just not there for many of the students.

    #3 as you have encountered can be a cluster-eff of mammoth proportions. LIke you I once had a perfectly good service learning course ruined by a “professional” advisor who 1. put students in the class without telling them it was SL and 2. put students in SL thinking it fulfilled particular requirement for them when their major required a different sort of course to fulfill that requirement. Needless to say, these students were rightfully pissed off.

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  4. After my freshman year faculty advisor said it was okay for a professor to kick me out of his French speaking class for being better than the seniors who had returned from abroad and still couldn’t pass their proficiency test (sadly ending my French career) and then suggested I enroll in the Russian novel of adultery instead (despite my protests that just because it was in English didn’t mean it was appropriate for someone who hadn’t a clue about Russian or Russia) I stopped trusting any sort of advisor and have made sure to always be aware of major and course requirements and content myself and ask specific professors for help rather than a general advisor. I tell other students to do this as well.

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