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I've been looking at some universities abroad (I'm from Norway) like in Hong Kong (HKUST), but the academic staff to student ratio seems dreadful compared to others with 1:23. Still, people seem to think it's a really great place to go. Also, it's ranked 19th in the world in the course I want to take, Mechanical Engineering, despite this.

So, my question is, how much weight should I put in this ratio? Will it impact my education greatly when the ratio is so high?

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grad school or undergraduate ? –  Suresh Jan 25 '13 at 19:54
    
Sorry for not clarifying. I'm planning on Undergrad Mechanical Eng. –  DarkLightA Jan 25 '13 at 22:12
    
Here's the info for the uni: cl.ly/MR1I –  DarkLightA Jan 25 '13 at 22:16
    
For engineering, there's 3100 undergrads and 1700 grads, with 152 "regular" and 22 visiting professors. –  DarkLightA Jan 25 '13 at 22:18
    
undergrad questions are off-topic here –  EnergyNumbers Jan 26 '13 at 7:42

1 Answer 1

If the ratio is about undergrad students, I wouldn't worry too much: those figures may vary wildly without the quality of the education dispensed being affected. For one thing, academic staff may not be all teachers, proportion of research vs. teaching time may vary, degree of implication of PhD teaching assistants (which do not count as academic staff) is not included, …

(The value given, 1:23, makes me assume that's what you mean)


On the other hand, if the ratio is about “grad students” and/or “PhD students” to academic staff, then yeah, you should give it a careful look. If the ratio is too low, run away fast! There are places that take too many grad students, if they can manage the funding, but won't have the human resources to advise/tutor/supervise them as they should. Trust me, you don't want to be in such a place.

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Maybe my comment looks a little unrelated. But following F'X's answer I'd like to mention that I have seen schools whose professor/grad_student ratio was higher than 1/2, but the professors were not determined to foster successful PhDs (I think the main reason for having a PhD program was using PhD students for TA duties). Maybe, for PhD study the ratio of employed-graduates/whole-graduates is a better measure. –  Vahid Shirbisheh Jan 25 '13 at 20:39
    
However, I agree with F'X. A low ratio for graduate program doesn't look a good sign. –  Vahid Shirbisheh Jan 25 '13 at 20:43
    
Thanks for your answer. As I'm graduating from high school into undergrad, I hope it'll be okay with that ratio. It sounds awesome to study in Hong Kong, so I guess I'll give it a go. –  DarkLightA Jan 25 '13 at 22:20
    
Further, all the teaching staff 1:27.4 have a PhD, with 80% from top 30 unis in US/UK. Impressive, despite the ratio. –  DarkLightA Jan 25 '13 at 22:23

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