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The Psychology Department Blues

Translated by Nina Fink, Paul Conge
Publié le
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L'université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, ex Le Mirail
In four years, the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès saw its psychology department grow by 25%. // ©  Toulouse Jean-Jaurès
Faced with an influx of students, psychology departments at French public universities are fighting to maintain proper teaching conditions. Truth be told, the limited resources are bringing everyone down.

Are the psychology departments at French public universities on the verge of a breakdown ? From overflowing lecture halls in Lille to a ballooning student body in Toulouse, the situation is dour. The French Federation of Psychology Students (Fenepsy) feels that psychology departments have been "sacrificed."

Psychology students are feeling the stress too. Manon, a third-year undergraduate at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO), recalls, "The day we arrived, the staff said there were too many of us. They weren't sure they'd be able to teach all of us and said we wouldn't be able to take all the classes."

It's Not You, It's Me

When UBO created more psychology seminar sections to accommodate new students, the faculty hit a wall. Senior Lecturer Amandine Dubois says, "We call it under-staffing, not over-enrollment. Students have the right to study and we want them here. However, we are short on human resources, not to mention space."

Each new section adds 12 hours per semester to professors' schedules. Many refuse to do the overtime. Dubois explains, "If we go beyond the 192 hours in our contract, we will have less time for research and class preparation and that will hurt the program."

For now, lecturers have taken on the extra hours but Dubois notes, "There aren't very many and we're having trouble finding new ones." She and her colleagues are pushing for more tenured positions.

Finding Balance

These trends are nothing new. In four years, the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès saw its psychology department grow by 25%. Yet financial and human resources have not kept up. After striking in September, the faculty was able to cap its hours and hire more administrative staff.

Éric Raufaste, Dean of the school's psychology department, says "There are no guarantees but we could limit admissions to the Master's and programs" to stem the student flow. The Fenepsy has another idea. Dubois explains, "We push high school students to get a university education but some of them would be better suited to shorter programs."

Read the article (in French)


Translated by Nina Fink, Paul Conge | Publié le

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