Australian Universities in turmoil as dirty little secrets come out

Australian Universities in turmoil as dirty little secrets come out, by Janet Albrechtsen.

This week, Inquirer spoke to someone who knows first-hand how universities are run, what their motivations are and what has gone wrong in the past 15 years. … Before unravelling that, first understand that this prominent professor says she would normally put her name to what she tells Inquirer “in a heartbeat”. Except for one thing: “I would get sacked,” she says. “My contract says that I cannot bring my university into disrepute so if I put my name to this, my job would be in jeopardy. And I have a mortgage to pay.” …

Toxic prejudice and indoctrination:

A few weeks ago, a young student [in first-year at the University of Technology Sydney] … decided to quit his communications degree. He sent a thoughtful and honest email to his lecturer and tutor explaining why. He said he hoped the feedback would be used in a constructive way so future students might discover intellectual curiosity rather than authoritarian censorship.

David wrote that he “found the course and tutor extremely prescriptive in opinion, presenting very niche ideological standpoints as absolute objective fact, (and) this was reinforced by a proactive effort by you to shut down any opposing point of view. Anytime I suggested anything that went against the consensus, I was shut down and even laughed at.” The young law student says he enrolled in communications expecting respectful, philosophical discussions about our political systems. It didn’t turn out that way.

Going by David’s experience, tutorials should be renamed dictatorials about identity politics, victimhood and shame. Instead of encouraging students to think, listen, learn and discuss issues, the tutorial room in David’s communications degree became a place where his different views were mocked and ignored as “inherent ignorance (from) a white male”.

Speaking to Inquirer this week, he said even putting aside the silly politics of the course, what are students going to do with guff about the whole world being a battleground where every smaller group is oppressed by a “dominant group”? Maybe get a job at the ABC?

“Never in my entire life did I expect to be alienated from class discussion because of my skin colour or my gender, especially in a class supposedly attempting to break down such barriers. I cannot believe that in this day and age my identity was held paramount in deciding if I was correct, not what I had to say. I wonder what the response would have been had I suggested a fellow student’s opinion was inherently invalid purely because she was female,” David wrote to his lecturer. The lecturer wrote a cursory response, saying she was pleased that he was able to withdraw without incurring course costs.

Lowered standards and dumbed-down courses:

“Masters and postgraduate students’ programs, which are the money-spinners to attract foreign students, have been dumbed down often to a point where the standards expected are below that of what we expect of undergraduate students,” she says.

While her heart goes out to struggling foreign students, she says students with insufficient English language skills mean “domestic students are frequently irritated, particularly with group assignments. They are paying a lot of money for a postgraduate course and many definitely feel they are not challenged enough.” …

Bureaucrats, not academics, now run the show:

Having worked in Australian universities for 20 years, at very senior levels, the professor says “the level of bureaucracy is insane, the systems are not serving … the students. It’s a plague on our house.”

Read it all.