Students enrolling at the Northern Marianas College will see bigger class sizes beginning this summer following a decision by management to enforce a higher student ratio in classrooms.
From the regular 12 students per classroom most classes will now have 20 or more students, pursuant to the new internal policy approved by NMC president Sharon Y. Hart.
This way, Hart said, the college can reduce the number of classes that will be offered for specific courses.
For example, instead of offering seven courses in a particular subject like mathematics, NMC can now reduce the offerings to four or five. She called this approach a better management of student numbers and is economically efficient for NMC.
The new policy takes effect this summer until further notice.
Hart described the new ratio as acceptable. Most community colleges accommodate up to 30 students per class, a number that NMC has set as its maximum ratio.
Some renovations are already occurring on campus in time for the start of the fall 2012 semester. NMC is restructuring many of its classrooms, removing walls to enlarge classroom spaces.
Hart said that some courses and classes would be exempted from the new class ratio. One is the nursing program, which has national standards and requirements. Some independent classes, she said, may also take place for graduating students who need to take specific classes even without the needed number of enrollees.
Galvin Deleon Guerrero, director of NMC's Office of Institutional Advancement, said that teaching a greater number of students per class allows better group interaction. “In my experience, it [new ratio] is working well,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero discounted worries that the increased ratio will affect the quality of education for students.
In terms of program and degree offerings, Hart said that NMC cannot make any changes at this time pursuant to the rule of the accreditation commission. Until NMC's show-cause status is lifted, Hart said the college cannot introduce new programs unless it has “substantive changes,” which has to be approved by the commission.