With the passage of Professor Gill's extended tutorial proposals, the naive might suppose that tutorial was now available to every competent undergraduate outside of the natural sciences and music. A quick look at Social Relations and Economics, two of the largest departments in the University, should dispel any such illusions.
Social Relations does not even pretend to offer junior tutorial. Instead, it requires concentrators to take what it calls "Junior Seminars," in which groups of about a dozen students gather to do research. Teaching this may be, but tutorial it is not.
Economics offers a lecture-tutorial course which has a lecture and meetings of groups of about five students once a week. But there is no flexibility in the reading list, and though small group instruction is preferable to large group instruction, it is not tutorial.
Both departments offer the compelling argument that they could not staff individual junior tutorial, economics because so much time is occupied with section work in courses, social relations because the department is too small. This claim is persuasive until one examines the two departments and the differences between them.
Social relations, for example, does not use teaching fellows for junior tutorial, and some members of the board of tutors are unaware that this is unusual; the department tries to keep the tutorial load on its members down to one thesis per advisor, while a department like History may make a fifth of instructional time cover five theses or three to four junior tutees. The department is bottom-heavy, with an excess of junior members, and it would be difficult to increase the instructional staff.
Given funds, on the other hand, the Economics department could add instructors, but since the deficiencies of the present program are less conspicuous, the staff can pretend that Economics 98 is adequate.
The simple fact is that present tutorial programs make a good portion of the debate over tutorial absurd. In addition, staff limitations are providing either reason or excuse for focusing Social Relations increasingly on research, and emphasizing economic theory instead of a more general non-scholarly approach. The situation is difficult, the departments have no plans for change, and the prognosis is poor.