April 6, 2009
Students less prepared for university education than in 2005, according to Ontario university faculty
Wikipedia kids less mature and lacking required skills
Toronto, April 6 – First-year students are less prepared for university education than students from just three years earlier, according to over 55 percent of Ontario university faculty and librarians who responded to a recent questionnaire. Respondents reported declines in writing and numeric skills combined with lower maturity among students who believe that good grades are an entitlement.

“It is very troubling that a majority of respondents are witnessing a decline in student preparedness. Study after study shows that success in university is linked to the preparedness of students for the rigours of the university curriculum,” said Prof. Brian E. Brown, OCUFA’s President, and Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Windsor. Many respondents are also reporting that universities are establishing remedial courses for students who may be struggling with the demands of higher education.

Respondents most often reported the following challenges among first-year students:

Lower level of maturity
Poor research skills as evidenced by an overreliance on Internet tools like Wikipedia as external research sources
Expectation of success without the requisite effort
Inability to learn independently

“The McGuinty Government is applauding itself for increased graduation rates from secondary school,” Brown said. “However, our secondary schools are poorly resourced and require new investments to enhance the classroom experience if our kids are going to thrive.”

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations invited Ontario university faculty and librarians to respond to an on-line questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about a range of issues including class size, faculty hiring, research capacity, departmental budgets, student preparedness and the overall quality of education being delivered to students. Close to 2,000 responses from 22 Ontario universities were received between February 16 and March 13, 2009.

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Contact: Henry Mandelbaum, Executive Director, 416-979-2117, Ext. 229 hmandelbaum@ocufa.on.ca,
or Mark Rosenfeld, Associate Executive Director, 416 979-2117, Ext. 233
mrosenfeld@ocufa.on.ca