La Trobe economics devastated

HC reports:

… My School of Economics was dished out its medicine today.

The current School will become part of a Department of Finance and Economics (the lack of alphabetical ordering in the 2 components is significant). Proposed staff cuts in economics are from 28 to 10 faculty. Is that a bloodbath or a restructuring?

The current four professors in the School will be reduced to 1, the 5 Associate Professors will be cut to 2 with smaller cuts as academic level decreases – the only faculty member guaranteed a position in the new structure is an “Associate Lecturer”. Everyone else must lodge a request for a position in the diminished structure.

There are some fine academic economists at La Trobe and there are tough times ahead for them. This is not a good time to be looking for an economics job. The public service is retrenching across the board from Treasury to the Productivity Commission.

I don’t actually know what’s going on at La Trobe – I’ve heard very conflicting stories. Whatever the truth of the matter is, restructuring incurs high human costs and we should always spare a thought for those people who are staring down the barrel of retrenchment.

This entry was posted in Economics and economy, Education. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to La Trobe economics devastated

  1. Geriatric Mayfly

    Economics thinkers I can deal with. Where are the cuts and retrenchments in useless branches of Sociology and the degraded Humanities? If memory serves me correctly, one can wangle a doctorate in Wimmins’ Studies at La Trobe. Of what possible use is that to anybody?

  2. hc

    Thanks Sinclair, Appreciated.

  3. mundi

    The wimmins studies doctorates have their use in generating revenue.

    I can’t help but feel this is just another normal cycle. Hard to get jobs means there are to many, which means people are being told to steer clear of the degrees.

  4. Rabz

    This is not a good time to be looking for an economics job. The public service is retrenching across the board from Treasury to the Productivity Commission.

    That’s the cost of staggering, unrelenting wrongology.

    Apart from islamists, is there a more useless species on the planet than taxpayer bankrolled keynesian economists?

  5. Andrew

    LaTrobe rivals Melbourne and Monash in how left-wing Unis are. Not a ‘bad’ achievement for a comparatively small Uni.

    They should be going in the Humanities departments. That is where they breed the leftists

  6. Rabz

    we should always spare a thought for those people who are staring down the barrel of retrenchment

    What’s the saying?

    Ah yes, one door closes, another door opens

  7. .

    Well said rabz.

    Utterly true too.

  8. Des Deskperson

    LaTrobe was a dump when I was there in the seventies, although in those days it was more old school Marxist and how wonderful the working class was.

    In the History Department it was pretty much the policy – albeit, or course, unwritten – that the only way to get first class honours was to write your thesis on labour history from a unionist point of view.

    This photo from the Alumni homepage of Flannery and Manne leering at each other should give you some idea of the Uni’s current ideological priorities:

    http://www.latrobe.edu.au/alumni

  9. john of dandenong

    La Trobe, is that the university that provided the vile bomb murderer craig minogue with a phd?

  10. struth

    Sorry , I don’t give a shit.
    If they were needed there would be work for them.
    That’s economics.

  11. .

    Struth -

    Supply creates its own demand.

  12. IC-1101

    As with each economics faculty, and particularly Melbourne Uni, La Trobe is split down the middle between Keynesian economics and Austrian economics, but the Keynesians hyperventilate of anything and everything and make the most noise (of course). I hated my time at Melbourne Uni for this reason: there never felt to be a general consensus and direction in the curriculum. No wonder there are slashes across the board: these economic faculties have no identity.

  13. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Sinclair, a few of the comments on that piece indicate where some of the problem may lie. As it is a fraught time, and all people have feelings and needs, I will leave it at that. Economists, the ones I have met, are generally a really nice bunch. I once worked with some, and left or right, we made a merry troupe.

    Yes, it is always distressing when people lose their jobs. My own Hairy Irish Ape is constantly involved in this process of reworking companies and organisations that are in some way failing (profits and markets will eventually determine how to assess and remedy that in the private sector; the public sector is far more messy). Mostly, some change is necessary, and wherever possible he tries to ensure people leave or transfer with the best future they could possibly have, given their current job loss. He then addresses how to turn companies around and then re-employ – the part of the job he enjoys. He goes through considerable personal misery in making some of the decisions he has to make. (NB he has no involvement in the La Trobe situation at all; avoids universities for these things, seeks them out only for co-operative ventures with industry.)

    My personal sympathies to all at La Trobe who are affected. It’s rotten to feel unwanted, but in the shake down things may be less drastic than they seem at first. It’s early days yet.

  14. Token

    I don’t actually know what’s going on at La Trobe – I’ve heard very conflicting stories. Whatever the truth of the matter is, restructuring incurs high human costs and we should always spare a thought for those people who are staring down the barrel of retrenchment.

    Why does every university need a language, engineering, medical or economics school?

    Why shouldn’t La Trobe specialise on what it does best, training nurses who are too good to clean up wards and socialist law breakers?

  15. sabrina

    Spare a thought for all who lose jobs, but ultimately the market decides how many economists or engineers or scientists are required in a economy.
    Having said that, I see a growing trend among the Go8 universities to import academics from overseas – academics who can publish more in highly cited (!!!) journals, not necessarily those who can teach well. Good or bad , only time can tell.

  16. Alfonso

    Rest easy unemployed economists, you can use your vast and accurate knowledge of how the world works to easily make a living in the market place.
    Bwaaaaa…..

  17. I don’t actually know what’s going on at La Trobe – I’ve heard very conflicting stories.

    Idiocy.

    They’ve been making cuts like this for years now. They used to have Judith Brett and Robert Manne in their politics department; they were let go several years ago as part of a previous round of redundancies. This is what is, in technical terms, best described as a ‘dick move’ – it doesn’t matter what you think of their politics, Brett and Manne were stars with international profiles, and a wealth of experience to draw on.

    Doesn’t matter, they’ve gone.

    Same story in pretty much every department I’ve heard of – repeated cuts, often getting rid of the most experienced staff with the highest national and international profiles. In the meantime, the workloads of the other staff increase. Result: demoralised workforce, poor relationship between academics and management, bad service for students. Everything turns to shit.

  18. john constantine

    left-tilting death roll?.

  19. Token

    left-tilting death roll?.

    hahahaha, they are on the government teet. You can bet the lefty “graduates” of La Trobe will make sure the institution is “too big to fail”. The Vic government should be populated by people whose alma mater is the institution in few months so they will have bags of taxpayer funded cash quicker than you can say Ardmona.

  20. .

    The worst thing for faculties seem to be their own and the university central executives.

    How about a non hierarchical organisation to an extent (like the infrastructure necessary for a “learning web”), and make cuts at the various VC’s and pro VC’s offices and eliminate the Deaneries? It would put the modern management science professors etc money where their mouth is.

    There are too many generals and not enough captains, let alone heavy hitting, grizzled “sergeants”.

    It is bloody amazing. A commerce faculty may struggle for auditing and law professors as they can’t compete with the private sector or government positions in the legal/criminal system, but they can pay several pro VCs and VCs more than any of these people they forgo because paying them on performance insults the totalitarian sensibilities of the commo IR lecturer or some moonbeam, milksop from the Macrame School in the Arts faculty.

  21. .

    sabrina
    #1359384, posted on June 25, 2014 at 8:48 am
    Spare a thought for all who lose jobs, but ultimately the market decides how many economists or engineers or scientists are required in a economy.
    Having said that, I see a growing trend among the Go8 universities to import academics from overseas – academics who can publish more in highly cited (!!!) journals, not necessarily those who can teach well. Good or bad , only time can tell.

    This is such a crock of shit (I agree with you Sabrina).

    How did the Journal of Financial Economics start?!

    What about English skills to teach or present research in an English speaking country and university?

  22. Des Deskperson

    ‘Brett and Manne were stars with international profiles, and a wealth of experience to draw on.
    Doesn’t matter, they’ve gone.’

    Err, not quite. According to the University’s own website, Professor Manne is currently a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and convenor of La Trobe’s Ideas & Society program’.

    Doubtless things are done differently in the more ethical University sector, but retirement with a payout and then come back as a ‘consultant’ is an old trick among mates in the public service.

  23. Cynic

    28 down to 10 looks more like a major downturn in student demand for economics training to me.

    It is a personal shame that anyone loses their job (assuming they still want it). But being academics, I’m sure the redundancies will be pretty generous.

    It is a shame academic economists (being public servants) don’t have any flexibility to adjust their price to match market value. And the ridiculous policies and pricing universities imposed on much of the consulting work done by academic staff simply prices them out of any competitive market. When the newly minted PhD grad has a charge out rate through the university that is higher than the consultant with 15 to 20 years applied experience, the university is kidding themselves in a competitive market.

    After the GFC, lots of people in consulting firms (myself included) effectively remained employed by reducing our pay (a lower paid job is better than no job at all). We remained employed and incomes are now starting to creep back up. We have practiced what we preach. There would be less job losses for academic and public service economists if they too had a bit more flexibility.

Comments are closed.