This post is a diatribe. I make no apologies for that. It bears upon something that I am quite passionate about.
As an entry point, I want to use a comment I received on a post, Ironies in Australian higher education standards, Anon wrote:
Hmm, just as yet another illustrious member of the gang, sorry, Group, of 8 is gutting the School of Music, after having put the sword through the Faculty of Arts, the School of Humanities (now renamed The School of Cultural Inquiry;whatever that means, for goodness' sake) and various individual Arts' subject areas. Non publishers are given the 'no thanks', despite their excellent teaching records, but hey who the hell cares about liberal arts' undergraduate teaching, especially when it doesn't attract the almighty international fee payers. At least one seriously well regarded, well published, brilliant teacher in my own discipline at Australia's 'top university' was disregarded for promotion, because of the attitudes of the warlords. Mercifully for them, 2 of the most inspirational and knowledgeable post-grad teachers I had, died before they could be sacked (sorry, made redundant) because of their slim publications record.What's it all about? More useless jobs in Chancelry for paper pushers and sycophants. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance; and that's exactly what GO8 is promulgating. Like much other stuff, it's now all about jobs for PLU -people like us, what used to be known as 'jobs for the boys'. And yes, we can blame generations of politicians of all colours as well. Long way away from exhorting the benefits of education for the sake of either a community of scholars, or an educated (as opposed to a quasi vocationally qualified) community at large. Undervalue the Liberal Arts, you undervalue the underpinnings of society at large. Am I seriously disgusted? You bet! Am I 'anonymous' for a reason? you bet? Did I see the beginnings of this creeping in @ UNE some time ago? No comment!
I haven't tried to edit anon's comment, just let them stand, for they provide a context for the things I have been trying to write about.
I have seen my first university, the one I love most because I was there, because of it's past standards, because of our family commitment to the place, almost destroyed. I have seen my second university drift down the corporate path, seeking a status that it actually had without seeing it. I have seen my wife fight for building funding at another university, suffering delay after delay even though every one of the ever changing decision makers came to see the plans as a good thing.
I have seen my daughters receive what I perceive to be a sub-standard education at three of Australia's leading universities. They don't see it. They see my comments as an attack. But they actually have no comprehension of the depth of the education I received as the University of New England. How could they? It's no longer available.
I have watched as the blogging world I inhabit slowly coalesces around the idea of the collapse of Australian university standards. Sure we chattering classes don't have much individual influence. But the cumulative effects are substantial.
The things that the Australian government is doing in higher education policy don't matter a damn.
There is not one thing in current policy that will affect the malaise. Indeed, current policy is part of the malaise. I do not expect my grandchildren, I do hope that I will see them, to have a better university education than my daughters. They won't My best hope is that they might have an okay education.
And that really suns it all up. After all the focus on standards in current policy, the best that I can hope for is an okay education. And they won't even know it.
Where do we do to next?