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Philosophy students take action over doubled seminar class sizes

CONCERNED Philosophy students have asked for a meeting with King’s chiefs over unsatisfactory seminar conditions, including the first year seminar sizes being doubled from seven to 15 people.

Undergraduates met with head of department Prof. Maria Rosa Antognazza this afternoon, and arranged to speak to the head of the School of Arts and Humanities amid growing concerns for the quality of teaching.

Prof. Antognazza said students had the department’s backing on pushing the College over seminar class size increases, but would not support other worries about the apparent prioritising of graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) over part-time teachers (PTTs).

Speaking about the seminar class sizes, she said: “I fought very hard the past year to keep the seminar groups. I was asked by the school to go to bigger classes just taught by members of staff.”

“[I will] write to the school saying undergraduates have expressed very strong concerns about the increase of sizes of first year seminars from seven to 15 and the new system that prioritises GTAs over PTTs because this leads in practise to the loss of teaching to [sic] a number of PTTs that have been outstanding.”

The Philosophy lecturer, who has been at King’s for more than ten years, said she wanted to make it absolutely clear that she was implementing the guidelines by the school and had “no power” t0 change them.

In all departments PTTs aren’t having their contracts renewed and they’re all going to be subject to similar measures, according to the professor.

Second year Philosophy student Henry Braime, said: “The changes suggested by the school will lead to the loss of some of the best teachers the department has. This is not a gap that can be filled in the way the department suggests and we look forward to finding a better solution with the cooperation of the faculty and head of school.

Areeb Ullah, Students’ Union Vice President of Academic Affairs, told Antognazza during the meeting: “I was quite shocked to see more than 20 people in this room. This demonstrates the passion that students have for your discipline.”

The meeting was sparked after a Philosophy student posted on Facebook saying that all PTTs would be “sacked” from the department in four weeks’ time. The department disputed the term “sacked” and instead stated that their contracts might not be renewed.

At this stage it’s unclear whether the head of the school will agree to the meeting.

The College was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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