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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Outsourcing

A few years ago, student advisement was outsourced to “professional advisers” who were hired as a large group for that purpose. It was sold to us as something that will allow professors to do less admin work. 

Of course, it turned out to be complete bunk. We still have to advise students and, what’s worse, we have to convince the students that everything the advisers told them is bunk. 

Example. A student came in yesterday who is a native speaker and who placed out of language courses. The “professional adviser” told him he only needed to take a single Senior Essay course to get a degree in Spanish. It took me 30 minutes to convince him that you can’t get a degree just on the strength of being a native speaker. He clearly thought that I was just being mean to him after all the wonderful promises of an easy and fast degree he had gotten from the adviser. 

We constantly meet with these advisers to explain to them how the program works. We create simple laminated sheets they can keep in front of them at all times that list the requirements but this shit keeps happening. 

Outsourcing is dumb. Creating needless and expensive bureaucracies is idiotic. 

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20 thoughts on “Outsourcing

  1. Anon on said:

    I think the real question one should be asking is how much kickback some higher administrator is getting out of this outsourcing. 🙂

    But seriously, this is quite common; ever since our new president came in several years ago, our university has increasingly outsourced a number of basic functions, causing the faculty more administrative work instead of less. There was a recent proposal to outsource grants administration from the engineering school, which finally got quashed after the faculty opposed it very very strongly. But it’s coming back in a year or two, I am sure!

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    • God, I hope we can at least preserve the faculty control over research grants. I have worked on the grant committee for years, and this is not even remotely a job that an admin person can do.

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  2. I’m not sure to understand this post. Is there no guidance counsellor at your university?

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    • I don’t know what a guidance counselor is but this advisement has to do with students figuring out which courses they need to take to graduate. And you need someone who understands what the program is about and how it works to do the job.

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      • Ok, I think I understand. Do you have a program director?

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      • In high schools, there are guidance counselors to make sure you are on track for graduation and also with college applications and admissions, and can help with career decisions as well. They’re not department-specific because we don’t have majors in high school. And there are only a couple of them, and their WHOLE job is graduation/college/career advice, they don’t teach.

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        • We have people in admin who count credits and tell students if they are ready to graduate. Which is ok by me. But throughout the progress to degree I believe students need professors to be involved. And we want to! It’s not like we are refusing. It just bugs me that I have to redo somebody’s shoddy work.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I put a huge amount of time into this and yet they are now going to hire even more of these professional advisors, I am told. I think part of it has to do with a secret strategic plan to suppress some majors and promote others. They want students in majors where they can cram lecture halls or online courses

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  3. ” It was sold to us as something that will allow professors to do less admin work. ”

    Did anyone believe that? The purpose is transparently a warning to faculty – we can replace you too….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some people did. I was completely opposed to it from the start because I know for a fact that students find it very helpful to discuss this with an actual professor in the program. To me, they are not just numbers, they are my students, I’m the one who sees them at the different stages of their degree, I can evaluate their Spanish and tell them which courses they should be taking. Advisors know none of this. They can’t say who needs a conversation course as opposed to a writing course, etc. It makes no sense to bring outside people into the process.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now, I see more why this is more complicated to advise students.

        Here at Laval, the basic requirement for the ESL major is 1 of the following.

        1) To have done your Cégep/High School in English. (Not my case)
        Or
        2) Achieve a TOEFL score of 550. (Not my case)
        Or
        3) Achieve a TOEIC score of 850 (I have 955)
        Or
        4) Pass the level Advanced English 3 with a D/ or a B in Advanced 2 (I passed Advanced 4 and a special course in English for academic purposes)

        So there’s not as much advice possible in this case.

        P.S.: I know all of that because I’ll take a course in English grammar about verbal forms this fall.

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  4. They keep doing that here too – taking away the administration which involves interactions between students and academics which take place outside of the formal classroom setting. Anything like missing a class, asking for extra time for an essay, reporting that they are sick, never mind advice on which classes to take etc., all is handled by a professional centre. Of course it does not stop the students taking up the academics’ time with questions etc., but now this extra party must be included in the discussion, the student must be sent from building to building, the academic must write on many forms to explain their recommendations, and the administrators must be paid/housed etc. – so it’s MORE work, spread over MORE time, but no, it’s “good for us” and allows us to teach more classes/be set higher research goals…

    I WANT to advise and support students in my subject, it’s part of the job and in many ways the most rewarding part, to see them grow and learn as people and to work with them one to one. But it’s “not my job” any more 😦

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