Dr. Byram Bridle pens an excellent substack (you must support) & this piece is stunning: "Virology Teaching to be Compromised at My University", where Byram explains that at University of Guelph the
by Paul Alexander
molecular virology course (4th year) is being adjusted by the administration of the department that runs this course, proposing to remove the in-person, hands-on laboratory component; what?
In my opinion, at a time when COVID has revealed the glaring putrid underbelly of academic research, medical journal publishing, medical education, the dearth, the gaps, the lack of knowledge and expertise in virology, immunology, vaccinology etc. and where experts like Byram stand apart, this move by Guelph is disastrous. It will only weaken already sub-optimal research and and as Byram writes “Hands-on training in diagnostic and research methods cannot effectively be replaced with theory-based teaching. To try to do so would be a huge mistake.
‘My university (University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada) offers a molecular virology course for fourth year students. This is the only course on campus where large numbers of undergraduate students from diverse programs are exposed to key methods used in virology research and diagnostics. The administration of the department that runs this course is proposing to remove the in-person, hands-on laboratory component.
The administration at my institution, like all others, implemented harmful COVID-19 policies over the past three years, which resulted in gross and unnecessary overspending. Combined with governments having done the same, postsecondary education systems are now facing economic hurdles that were easily predicted three years ago, but blatantly ignored as much of the world ran around in a blind panic. Now, our postsecondary institutions are proposing significant cuts to teaching programs. Among the proposed solutions are the shutdown of courses with limited enrolments, which puts specialized graduate teaching courses at risk, and eliminating costlier components of courses, such as lab-based teaching.
Reducing the literacy of virology students when it comes to understanding how research and diagnoses of virus-based diseases is done is not a wise way to solve what were preventable economic problems. In fact, I wish there could be a greater emphasis on students thoroughly learning lab-based methods.
With the quality of teaching hitting an all-time low in the past three years, I don't know how administrations of universities and colleges expect students to keep enrolling and paying ever-growing fees while simultaneously being faced with with additional degradations to their programs.
How We Can Help Maintain the Quality of Education for Students
Feel free to contact the administrations of universities and colleges to express any concerns and/or suggestions that you have. In Canada and many other countries, these are public institutions. This means that they serve the public. In fact, public input is usually valued more than suggestions coming from internal sources. After all, it is your children that are the reason why these institutions exist.
In this specific case, an online petition has been set up, which can be found at the following link: https://chng.it/SPNQLcB8
If signing, you can just ignore step 3, which promotes the signing of ten other petitions (but feel free to peruse them, if you want). After you have signed, you will have the option of going to the petition information page, where you can leave a comment, if you wish.
It is thought that having 500 signatures will be enough for the committee proposing this cut to reconsider.
Let’s keep our young people well-educated. They deserve the same quality of teaching that older folks like me received.’