Cutting government spending on universities

Emmo on education

This cartoon by Matt Golding in The Age encapsulates the general consensus about yesterday’s policy announcement. Last night I was having two Facebook debates – one with a group of my left-wing friends and another with a group of my right-wing friends. The lefties were were unhappy about the so-called efficiency dividend while the right-wingers were happy that an implicit subsidy to HECS* was being wound back.

Okay – the efficiency dividend is a good idea – poorly implemented. What will happen is that university management will undertake a whole of bunch of changes that will maximise the inconvenience to highly visible and highly noisy parts of the university system. According to the Grattan Institute more than 50 per cent of university employees are not academics. If universities were instructed to reduce the number of non-academics senior management would reduce the number of librarians or student support officers and the like. This is a form of rent-seeking that always follows from efficiency dividends. The secret to successful policy is to specify the types of efficiency that needs to be delivered. There is a lot of administrivia that happens in universities. Grab hold of a university organisational chart and count the layers of management. So a policy that required universities to reduce the number of reporting relationships by 50 per cent would generate huge savings.

Universities have simple objectives – they generate, preserve, and transmit knowledge. There is no reason why complex organisation is necessary to perform those functions. So efficiency dividends should be targeted at the organisational structure. No organisation needs to have deputy assistant pro-vice chancellors. Okay – that title might be a slight exaggeration but there is a lot of make-work within the system that is generated when the flunkies have flunkies all justifying their very important job that means they can’t teach or research.

So what about my argument with the right-wingers? At the heart of the HECS debate is the view that there is some sort of market failure and HECS is a market based solution to that failure.

It is true that as a society we don’t want to see smart people being rationed out of the education system on an ability to pay principle. That is an argument for welfare, not an argument to subsidise the entire education system. The market solution to paying for education is that everyone pays their own way. If they cannot pay their own way they then need to borrow the money or get a job. In this sense investing in your own education can be viewed as any other investment or business start-up.

The argument that the banking system cannot or would not provide loans to students to finance their own education is simply false. In that sense the HECS system crowds out the private sector. A zero-interest income contingent loan from the government will always trump an at-interest loan that must always be repaid.

The policy announced yesterday eliminates the discount for paying upfront – this can be viewed as reducing the subsidy to students. I, however, think it is just a tax increase – another one of Swan’s stunts of calling a tax increase a ‘saving’. There is wriggle here, however. Paying HECS upfront reduces a lot of uncertainty as to whether the loan will be paid back. It also reduces the amount of government borrowing necessary to finance the loan and administration costs etc. etc. Maybe the present value of those costs is not 10 per cent of the loan value – but it isn’t zero either.

Good policy in this area would involve less crowding out. So the government should charge a real interest rate on the loan. This would provide an incentive for the private sector to enter and offer loans (most likely for early payment of upfront fees) and individuals would do their sums and make a choice. So the government would then be providing a safety net for those individuals who would otherwise be rationed out of the private sector, while the private sector competed to finance everyone else.

Debating education policy with free-marketeers is difficult because we all make nirvana economics mistakes. We all agree the education market is highly distorted and we all propose market reforms but do so without specifying what a free market system in education might look like. My ideal is that everyone who can pay for their own education do so. It doesn’t worry me if that means parents pay for their own children’s education – after all children are a private good and children are a choice. That means fees for those who can pay and welfare for those who cannot.

* Yes, I know it isn’t called HECS any more. I’m talking about the income-contingent zero-interest (but CPI-adjusted) loan that is made to Australian students.

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120 Responses to Cutting government spending on universities

  1. Steve from SM

    Ahh the all dancing and singing munster has a some more good news….

  2. Jim Rose

    Universities have simple objectives – they generate, preserve, and transmit knowledge.

    Barzun saw the university as designed for the opening and expansion of minds, for the transmission of wisdom from the past.

    One of the worst barbarians at the gate, in his mind, was the pressure to reshape universities into places to learn a vocation. Perhaps Barzun went a bit to far in regarding students as luckly to be audience rather than as his customers.

  3. Jim Rose

    There is no reason why complex organisation is necessary to perform those functions. So efficiency dividends should be targeted at the organisational structure

    another way of putting this hypothesis is the governance of private and public univerisities should differ. Private univerisities will be leaner and flatter structured.

  4. dan

    So what is the actual idea behind this Gonski business? I ask having actually skimmed through the report. It seems that the increase in funding is due to setting as a benchmark the amount of money that successful schools are getting. As though replicating their funding will replicate their success…as though a school’s top-5 state results every year are due to money rather than educational approach. This will just lead to massive increases in private school fees.
    I love at the beginning of the executive summary where they grandly announce that the committee has decided Australia’s educational system should be one of the best in the world.

  5. Tel

    Personally I think the future is online universities.

    [1] Cheaper: minimize expensive building infrastructure, the buildings don’t do teaching.

    [2] Smaller: an online specialist school is viable whereas all the big universities are making their coursework as bland and indistinguishable as possible.

    [3] More flexible: that’s a result of smaller.

    My ideal is that everyone who can pay for their own education do so. It doesn’t worry me if that means parents pay for their own children’s education – after all children are a private good and children are a choice.

    I don’t have a problem with my tax going into educating my neighbour. I would be happier living in an educated street, rather than an uneducated street.

    However, if I’m paying for it, then I want to have a say in what gets delivered… and how.

  6. .

    Tel

    The problem is barriers to entry. The Feds licence universities, the States licence who can teach what.

    The Government does not like competition.

  7. dan

    Tel that’s a reasonable principle. I would be happy, personally, for my tax to go to training everyone in the neighbourhood to play Beethoven or teaching them about John Stuart Mill. But then it would probably be more appropriate for me to donate that money voluntarily. And in fact that is what I do, and the educational projects I help support in some refugee/immigrant communities have been extremely successful because the payors and recipients are all emotionally heavily invested in the activities.

    The problem is in the execution of state educational projects. Ultimately you might care about your neighbours’ education, but the question is whether your neighbours care and are as motivated as you. In my little community, we care a lot, obsessively, about education, and the outcomes are correspondingly high.

    Your dream of a clever happy neighbourhood actually existed once upon a time. It existed in the north of England where working-class people established their own independent educational institutions, their own brass band, their own mutual loan societies, their own insurance companies, and was obliterated by the welfare state.

  8. dan

    And yeah Tel I agree, in fact even aside from niche stuff, courses like Programming 101, Calculus 101 etc should be delivered online cheaply. UNE is now offering the former free online, you can do them via Udacity etc and the crowd support is fine rather than a tutor. In fact probably much better. I imagine one day in IT for example, a million people will do the same 10 week intro course in Python before whatever special stuff they need to go on with.

  9. Ellen of Tasmania

    However, if I’m paying for it, then I want to have a say in what gets delivered…and how.

    ““We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children,” she says in a spot for the network’s “Lean Forward” campaign. “So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.””

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/04/09/critics-slam-msnbc-hosts-claim-that-kids-belong-to-community-not-parents/

  10. Jim Rose

    Tel, there are many online and distance learning options.

    their market share is still limited.

    why do you think people still prefer in-person learning as a group?

  11. dan

    Which people Jim?
    For part time learners in something like computing, being able to study in your own time at home is great. The group is out there in a google hangout, or the discussion forum, or the facebook group. You can literally build documents online using Google Docs in realtime as a group while chatting on Skype.

    At the other extreme, if you are doing an MBA or similar part of the point is to build relationships and actually learn from other peoples’ experiences and personalities…different story. Then there are things in between.

  12. Rodney

    Virtually all categories of Graduate are in over supply. Furthermore the assumption that universities provide learning rather than dogma is dubious.
    the virtual ban on failing fee paying students hardly helps.
    The way universities are going a degree will soon be a handicap in the labour market.
    If students are to be subsidised, then it should be means tested, like Menzies” Commonwealth Scholarships.

  13. Gibbo

    I’ve worked in the University sector for the last 10 years and I am astonished, on a daily basis, at how much money we waste. Universities is exactly the right place to look for savings. FFS imagine if we took all the money we waste on remedial English and Maths courses in Universities, and just taught the kiddies this stuff at the BEGINNING of their school years.

    Having said that, there is a great deal of waste across the entire education system in this Country. We have a curriculum that is a mile wide but only an inch deep. If we just spent the current budget, but demanded quality instead of quantity, we would be World beaters.

  14. dan

    Any educational system run out of a Canberra department is doomed to waste and inefficiency from first principles but these principles are clearly too abstract for the current bunch of leaders.

  15. Tel

    The problem is barriers to entry. The Feds licence universities, the States licence who can teach what.

    The Government does not like competition.

    True and not-true at the same time. Look at Oracle University… they exist online, the Australian government can’t regulate diddly against those guys and anyone who passes a course there gets a certificate carrying the “Oracle” brand which is quite possibly more valuable in the market than the Aus government brand.

    Sure, the government doesn’t like competition, but in a global interconnected world, they are gonna get it, like it or not. The only question is whether they choose to cripple Australian industry with their regulations. They simply can’t cripple Oracle and the other global corporations, but they can cripple the local competition.

  16. dd

    The amount of waste in universities is staggering. The bureaucracies are vast and Byzantine; but unfortunately the bureaucracies will be in charge of making cuts. So you can’t get rid of them. They’re running the show. Dividends will just result in, as Sinc says, cuts in visible, useful stuff while the backroom engine grinds on.

    There’s no way out of this other than reforming the sector at a structural level. ie, deregulation, privatisation, etc.

    Another area of bloat is the proliferation of courses that don’t teach either marketable skills or empirically based knowledge. And there was a recent report that there are four times as many teachers being graduated than we need. Inefficiencies everywhere.

  17. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    I dodn’t think the Menziees scholarships were initially means-tested Rodney, although I may be wrong there.

    I think scholarships are a good idea, in concert with expecting people to pay for themselves, as Sinc suggests.

    Very bright students who have initial financial problems could be assisted by gaining one of a very limited number of means-tested scholarhips for some part of their fees and costs etc. Not too much, but something to aim for. The virtue of the Menzies Scholarships seems to have been that they were based on a concept of excellence, since sadly lost in our university entry and student support system.

    Here too I am speaking of providing scholarships limited to people under 25 years of age. After that, they should have sorted out a place in the job market where they can earn and save for education, just like anything else they desire and they can also get much online, whereas for younger people the experience of collective inter-personal study is itself broadening and worth encouraging (a mix with online would also be a useful cost-cutting exercise here).

    The scholarships should not be rorted either by ‘special considerations’ or ‘points added for this deficit and that’. On merit, on proven results, no arguments. Maybe even a special scholarship test, a bit like the American SATS?

  18. Jim Rose

    havard puts many of its course notes online for free because reading those notes is not thought to be a substitute for going to class and sitting exams

  19. Tel

    FFS imagine if we took all the money we waste on remedial English and Maths courses in Universities, and just taught the kiddies this stuff at the BEGINNING of their school years.

    But are you saying that the University is wasting this money? After all, if Universities didn’t teach the remedial stuff the only other option would be to kick those students out.

    Or are you saying that the wastage already happened earlier with secondary schools failing to do their job? The problem being that the University admin can’t control this, and the secondary schools don’t pick up the cost of picking up the pieces. We have perverse incentives at work.

  20. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Inefficiencies everywhere.

    From what I have seen I have to agree, dd.

    Universities are currently full of both overworked and underworked individuals. The system is thus creaking under its own internal contradictions.

    Sorry for the Marxist-sounding terminology. 🙂

  21. dd

    Sure, the government doesn’t like competition, but in a global interconnected world, they are gonna get it, like it or not.

    Not necessarily. They can fight a rear guard action by increasing the amount of accreditation needed to enter australian workplaces, and then their favourite institutions are the only ones that can license you. This already happens a lot – in fact too much.

    Sure, it’s reasonable to have the state controlling who becomes a doctor, but you need a degree or a certificate for so many more vocations now.

    This doesn’t improve the quality; teachers now need degrees for example, but are teachers better than they were thirty years ago? But not just teachers; so many vocations used to be just a matter of walking into a job but now you have to train for it first. Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) is a similar example, as well as the proliferation of “CERT” training courses.

    What it does is it slows the economy down. It’s harder to change jobs and careers, which puts sand in the cogs of labour mobility. It’s harder to get into careers in the first place, which reduces the pool of applicants entering any particular profession, which must reduce the overal quality. There’s an exit cost in leaving a vocation you’re not suited to.

    The education system thus becomes an economic cost, not a benefit.

  22. Andrew

    Personally I think the future is online universities.

    Ugh. I’d hate to think of a future where I sit in front of a computer every day to do every single task for me. The advancement of technology is really leading to a lazier society.

  23. Tel

    Tel, there are many online and distance learning options.

    their market share is still limited.

    why do you think people still prefer in-person learning as a group?

    All market shares are limited, but the distance learning market share is steadily growing.

    Why many people still prefer in-person learning? Hmmm, mostly just tradition and inertia I suspect. Kids follow their parent’s suggestion, the parents tell the kids to do what they did. Reputation takes time to develop, industry is mostly pretty conservative in their outlook and especially Australian industry is risk adverse.

    I think of distance learning as a bit like water running down a hill. It’s a small trickle so no one takes it seriously. Government throws up some barriers to entry which is like putting a little weir across the stream, but the water just builds up behind that weir, then you need a bigger dam to hold it back. One day the water pushes through.

    My point is that there are pretty significant efficiency gains to be had, and technological improvements are slowly but surely compounding that. The money always wins. The only thing that could defuse this pressure is radically lower labour costs in teaching — but you know why that won’t happen. I’ve seen technology muscle its way into shipping, manufacturing, accounting, and even the low levels of management… tougher guys than the teachers I assure you.

  24. MACK1

    So the AWU is in favour, with the CFMEU. The AEU is in, but the Tertiary Education Union is out. Can someone explain the powerplays here please?

  25. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    why do you think people still prefer in-person learning as a group?

    Most distance learning still involves some level of interpersonal meeting up.

    Human beings are social animals. We like to experience each other, and online only has certain limitations regarding this.

    Of course, there are also advantages. Age, class, ethnic, personal attractiveness and gender barriers are more easily overcome online. And slow thinkers have more time to put together their case.

  26. So the government should charge a real interest rate on the loan. This would provide an incentive for the private sector to enter and offer loans (most likely for early payment of upfront fees) and individuals would do their sums and make a choice. So the government would then be providing a safety net for those individuals who would otherwise be rationed out of the private sector, while the private sector competed to finance everyone else.

    Yes. It would also put an end to the eternal students, who might be jollied along into the workforce by the sight of a rapidly accumulating interest debt.

    And if you allow early paying-off of the debt without penalties, that would be be even better.

  27. kae

    Mum, the primary/infants’ school teacher, said to me today “Gonski won’t work until they teach the teachers to teach.”

    There was also some conversation about pissing up money against the wall in the BER.

  28. Most distance learning still involves some level of interpersonal meeting up.

    Human beings are social animals. We like to experience each other, and online only has certain limitations regarding this.

    Of course, there are also advantages. Age, class, ethnic, personal attractiveness and gender barriers are more easily overcome online. And slow thinkers have more time to put together their case.

    Also depends on what you’re teaching. I used to teach in a school of nursing in the 1990s, and our experiments with online learning were nothing short of disastrous.

    I wrote recently that ‘there is no electronic substitute for a real-life, enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher of a subject, and I still believe that.’ And I still believe that!

  29. Why many people still prefer in-person learning? Hmmm, mostly just tradition and inertia I suspect

    It’s more than that – we are social beings – we learn from and with each other.

  30. PS. To cut a long story short, here are all the other reasons I agree with making some well-deserved cuts to Australian universities’ funding.

    But I don’t think throwing that saved money at the school system is going to fix anything either, because school education in Australia needs nothing short of a Copernican revolution.

  31. Jim Rose

    there is some sort of agglomeration economies for students at univeristies. to quote Marshall

    The mysteries of the trade become no mysteries, but are as it were in the air

  32. And THIS is my idea of an entry exam for any Australian university. Get more than 10/15 and you should be immediately streamed into a really hard-core liberal classics degree.

    (but I only say that because I got 12/15)

  33. Jim Rose

    Gillard is on the box talking of how she is changing school funding ‘for all time’

    yesterday’s changes were once in a generation changes.

    nothing of substance has changed since Rudd and his great moral challenge of our time left the building.

    all sound and fury

  34. kae

    Yes, throwing money at aboriginal issues has solved that problem.

    Perhaps the ALP should consider making illiteracy illegal, that always works.

    And tax it, too. That’d be a saving, wouldn’t it, Wayne!

  35. kae

    Phillipa, I got 10.

    Mostly guesses.

    I also got a STAT of 84. I’m in.

    If only I can figure out what I want to do when I grow up…

  36. kae

    oops

    Philippa

    guess I’m out now?

  37. Tel

    Also depends on what you’re teaching. I used to teach in a school of nursing in the 1990s, and our experiments with online learning were nothing short of disastrous.

    Agreed. Some subjects translate better over long distances than others. Mind you, one disastrous experiment proves nothing. The history of science and technology is littered with disastrous experiments, people just shrug and move on.

  38. Tel

    Human beings are social animals.

    Our idea of what this translates to at ground level has been very flexible over the decades. Not so very long ago we lived in small villages where most everyone was somehow related to everyone else and frowned on outsiders. Even more recently racism was perfectly acceptable and considered to be both natural and normal.

    So “social animals” means whatever you want it to mean, and no doubt in 100 years from now people will use the same argument to justify a whole new round of normal.

  39. dd

    Ugh. I’d hate to think of a future where I sit in front of a computer every day to do every single task for me.

    says the man sitting in front of a computer having a conversation that is only possible online.

    (given the impossibility of getting this cohort of people together in real life).

    Online learning is vastly more efficient than traditional learning, which, if you think about it, is pretty artificial anyway. Textbooks and lecture halls are artificial constructs that are simply engineered solutions to the learning problem. As such they’re imperfect and should be cleared away if a better system comes along.

  40. dd

    Human beings are social animals.

    That’s why football was invented.
    That may sound flippant but I’m serious. The function of ‘socialising’ and ‘learning’ should be kept separate.

  41. .

    Universities are run out the stone age. Mixed (flexible) delivery should be the norm. Holding down a job shouldn’t hold you back. There is so much wasted on admin staff and executive assistants you could sack 90% of them and hire new teachers to get with the programme.

    Why a business degree takes 3 years is beyond me. If it was truly full time you could do it in a semester.

  42. stackja

    That means fees for those who can pay and welfare for those who cannot.

    But ALP dream-land wanted no-fees/welfare for all.

  43. Gab

    Human beings are social animals.

    That’s what tutorials/lab classes are for where the exchange of ideas and discussions occur. Lectures in uni theaters are no different to lectures being downloaded online, slides complete with video of the lecture.

  44. H B Bear

    The Leg-over Man always make life tough for cartoonists. He writes his own material you know.

  45. Rodney

    Elizabeth; you are right. Comm Scholarships were allocated strictly on school record. Living allowances were means-tested.

  46. tbh

    And THIS is my idea of an entry exam for any Australian university. Get more than 10/15 and you should be immediately streamed into a really hard-core liberal classics degree.

    (but I only say that because I got 12/15)

    I only got 8. I’d better hand back my degree. Then again, I’m one of those nerdy sci/eng people (though I did psychology and linguistics courses for the fun of it).

    As I said yesterday, several years working in the higher ed sector showed me how much money we waste in our universities. We should also be looking hard at the amount of funded places offered for several degrees, mainly those in the Arts faculties. Call me a philistine, but if the idea of a university education is to produce people qualified to do professional jobs, then I don’t see as much value in courses like literature or philosophy. People can still do them of course, but perhaps they should be paying more out of their own pockets.

  47. tbh

    Online learning is vastly more efficient than traditional learning, which, if you think about it, is pretty artificial anyway. Textbooks and lecture halls are artificial constructs that are simply engineered solutions to the learning problem. As such they’re imperfect and should be cleared away if a better system comes along.

    It’s a good point, dd. I did both in-person and external units during my degree and while the external units took more self-discipline, I didn’t feel disadvantaged learning wise. For my as yet uncompleted MBA, the entire course was online. I started it when I was living overseas and there was a message board not unlike the Cat for students to compare notes. Internet based technologies have brought the world closer together and really is the future of learning. There will always be a case for in-person learning, but it need not be all encompassing now.

  48. .

    Call me a philistine, but if the idea of a university education is to produce people qualified to do professional jobs, then I don’t see as much value in courses like literature or philosophy. People can still do them of course, but perhaps they should be paying more out of their own pockets

    Such courses shouldn’t be costly to produce anyway.

  49. The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers.

    (By the way, a clerihew:
    Dorothy L. Sayers
    rhymes not with players but with prayers.
    She was cutting in her denunciation
    of those who gave the wrong pronunciation.)

  50. Ellen of Tasmania

    After all, if Universities didn’t teach the remedial stuff the only other option would be to kick those students out.

    … or not have them there in the first place.

    Sure, it’s reasonable to have the state controlling who becomes a doctor

    Why is that reasonable?

  51. conrad

    “Online learning is vastly more efficient than traditional learning”

    No it isn’t. If you want set up a subject well, have decent assessment, decent communication with students and so on, the estimate from where I work is that it probably costs > 1.5 times a face-to-face student, and some things are basically impossible to do fully online (generally those that actually involves “skills” and doing stuff).

    Of course this is going to be area dependent, but the idea that you can do it all on the cheap, whilst something that puts a smile on the average university bureaucrat, is false, and the fact that many poor online courses have been set up on the cheap is currently giving everything a bad reputation. This is probably one reason the number of online students in Aus dropped last year (and you can look up the worst providers in the US as well, like University of Phoenix). Most successful providers are probably going to hybrids for a long time to come.

  52. Megan

    there is no electronic substitute for a real-life, enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher of a subject, and I still believe that.’ And I still believe that!

    I truly believe that too, Phillippa but, in my experience, they are few and far between.

  53. wreckage

    Call me a philistine, but if the idea of a university education is to produce people qualified to do professional jobs, then I don’t see as much value in courses like literature or philosophy. People can still do them of course, but perhaps they should be paying more out of their own pockets

    Such courses shouldn’t be costly to produce anyway.

    No, they should be dead cheap in fact; there’d be nothing to prevent a basic literature course from being either automated or electronically delivered. Same with basic chemistry, maths, etc, etc. Students would then pay only for tutor time as and when they needed.

  54. wreckage

    Note that the tutelage makes this a hybrid approach.

  55. Borisgodunov

    Not far enough,abolish all arts and law faculties ,make those subjects should be user pays,Subsidise Medical subjects,Engineering and pure Research Science.Next get rid of reds from all teaching ,ban their unions ,and send the teachers back to be taught to Teach not spout red propaganda,and reduce teachers salaries plusmake them study to improve their teaching skills during all those holidays.on cmpletion of the approved course ,restore former salaries,Make their lives devoted to learning and teaching,

  56. stackja

    Online learning is vastly more efficient than traditional learning, which, if you think about it, is pretty artificial anyway.

    As I remember George Molnar had a newspaper cartoon of a student’s tape recorder recording a lecturer’s tape recorder.

    On-line allows much time other than 9 to 5 Mon Fri or what ever and if learning is disciplined a quicker outcome. Of course the assessments need to be rigorous.

    I am learning much about economics here. But of course I do not expect to get a degree.

  57. James in Melbourne

    Went to Melbourne University yesterday afternoon to watch football. Walked through Trinity on the way in – they were putting up a marquee on the Bulpadock Lawn for some event that night, and a band was tuning up. Out on the Uni Oval, University Blues were hosting Old Scotch, Round 1 of the Amateur A Grade season. On a glorious Melbourne autumn day, Scotch and Blues put on a cracker of a game, open, fast and skilled. Unfortunately Scotch won. College girls in their multi-coloured rugby jumpers walked around the oval to discreet admiring glances from middle-aged gents, distracted from the footy temporarily. It was a glorious day and a glorious place to be from. I hope all those lucky enough to be students there get to feel their heart swell when they walk back in 30 years later.

    Not sure that an online experience gives you that.

  58. Andrew

    James, did you see any Thatcher or Marxist conference posters up on any of the billboards?

    Out of interest, what did you study at Melbourne?

  59. Aliice

    You can directly measure inefficiency in universities. The growth of inefficiency is directly proportional to the growth in the number of pages in a unit outline and an exam marking guide since 1990.

  60. dover_beach

    I think the small, liberal arts colleges are the way to go for both teaching and learning. The are a heap of these appearing on the scene in the US.

  61. Aliice

    Now we have all this bullshit like pages on “graduate outcomes” in the subject guides all dictated by who? Government. But someone has to waste extraordinary amounts of time and paper inventing the ‘graduate outcomes’, mapping them, reporting on them, quantifying them – while 6 clerks sit in IT and 26 in HR and 36 in payroll for the same effort. Universities have become a paper wasting reporting fetid swamp.

    The students dont even read the crap in their subject guides except for 1. marks and where they are coming from 2. timetable and 3. textbook

  62. Andrew

    Not far enough,abolish all arts and law faculties ,make those subjects should be user pays,Subsidise Medical subjects,Engineering and pure Research Science.

    Terrible idea. Especially abolishing the law faculties of universities. Nobody will study those subjects/courses if user pays.

    Next get rid of reds from all teaching ,ban their unions ,and send the teachers back to be taught to Teach not spout red propaganda,

    Not possible. The teachers by nature are ‘reds’ and the system breeds them. Subconsciously, they always will spout the propaganda.

    and reduce teachers salaries plus make them study to improve their teaching skills during all those holidays.on cmpletion of the approved course ,restore former salaries,Make their lives devoted to learning and teaching,

    A bit over the top. Their salaries are at sufficient and while they do get extra holidays, they do also work beyond their hours during the terms.

  63. James in Melbourne

    James, did you see any Thatcher or Marxist conference posters up on any of the billboards?

    Andrew, no doubt that down around North Court and Concrete Lawns there would have been whole walls and pillars groaning under the weight of forests worth of posters advertising Tony Abbott effigy-burnings, Student Union-sponsored Thatcher Death Celebration piss-ups, 24-hour Billy Bragg marathons on 3PBS, Hamas fund-raisers, Compulsory Public Lectures by Tim Flannery and Will Steffen, Hezbollah benefit concerts, Al Qa’eda recruitment nights, Rod Quantock “comedy” performances, Max Brenner chocolate burnings, Ken Loach Film Festivals, “Cleanse our ABC” protest marches demanding banning of Niki Savva and Janet Albrechtsen, “Free Assange and Manning” sit-ins, “Occupy Christmas Island, RAN are Murderers” collective action programs, Baader-Meinhof eulogisation competitions, ‘Meat is Murder’ tofu tastings, public garrotting of climate-change sceptics, “Kill the BHP Board” petitions and SINKALYIA (Support Innocent North Korea Against Lying Yankee Imperialist Aggression) demonstrations.

    But 300 metres away, around the oval, none such to be seen.

    I did a BA and then a B Litt (Letters).

  64. Aliice

    ‘Meat is Murder’ tofu tastings LOL
    I did come across a stand on campus last week. “Ancient Persion non genetically modified healthy food”. It seemed to be mostly yoghurt with a sort of greeny mostly meatless curry (but with nachos!) but some students seem to like it – it was free.

  65. Samuel J

    If a VC can’t find savings without picking on the controversial, replace the
    VC.

  66. Des Deskperson

    ‘I dodn’t think the Menziees scholarships were initially means-tested Rodney, although I may be wrong there.’

    Lizzie, the old Commonwealth Scholarships had two main components: they paid university course and other fees and they also provided a living allowance. The former wasn’t means tested, the latter was.

  67. ben

    online universities are really going to shake things up in the long term. imagine a world where everyone was able to get physics lectures from feynman. i think we are wasting a lot of good teaching resources because they can only interact with a small number of people.

  68. For me, the standards in the faculties of education constitute a major problem, and the start of the rot. For instance, every English teacher who leaves university with an inadequate knowledge of grammar and literature, but thoroughly indoctrinated with the latest theories of “group learning” and the like, will likely ensure that yet another cohort of students will enter university lamentable unlearned; too many students will possess an inadequate knowledge of English and an inability to learn but an unfounded sense of moral superiority.
    See “Examples of Standards at Taroona High School” wherein I provide examples of the sort of silly pieties which come from people who were taught to teach by the teachers in our universities.

  69. Tel

    No, they should be dead cheap in fact; there’d be nothing to prevent a basic literature course from being either automated or electronically delivered.

    You could automate the marking of essays as well.

    Simply use google to scan out which blogs each student regularly posts on, then add to that membership of various political parties and student activist groups, and put together a cross reference table to figure out who should get a good mark. Adjust marginally based on use of big words and unmanageable sentence structure, then mildly randomize the output in order to cover your tracks. If in doubt borrow a bit of code from the Climatologists.

  70. JC

    James

    You forget the Huggy Chavez memorial service.

  71. kae

    mAlice

    Course Outlines are computerised now, it’s a data base.

    There is a page for every section.

    The information in a Course Outline is the BIBLE for a course and it must contain all information on assessment, learning outcomes, etc. etc. etc. If there is any dispute with a student about anything to do with the course (particularly assessment and rules about submission of assessment, late penalties and compulsory items etc. these must be put into the Course Outline).

    They also need to be long so that if a student applies for credit elsewhere the person assessing the credit can check how much depth the course went into and what the assessment was like, etc. to compare with what the student is asking for credit for.

  72. Monkey's Uncle

    A lot of the debate about whether or not online learning will undermine traditional universities misses the point somewhat. For those who have the discipline and inclination to do so, there has always been the option of simply engaging in independent study. Even in the days before the internet, what was stopping people simply spending time at the library, sourcing recommended texts elsewhere, and engaging in independent study and research?

    All a university can really provide is the same thing they have always provided in the past. That is, simply a means of more structured learning and some accesss to academic specialists for discussion and feedback, especially for those who do not have the inclination or ability to learn on their own. Universities have never really had a monopoly on knowledge, skills or research.

    I don’t really see that the world is vastly different because the means by which people obtain knowledge increasingly involves computers instead of going to a building containing printed volumes.

  73. cohenite

    Universities have simple objectives – they generate, preserve, and transmit knowledge.

    That the University system is stuffed and does not come within cooee of this purpose is evidenced by the academic support given to the ‘science’ of AGW. This and other left/green causes celebres have turned most Universities into recruitment and brain-washing factories.

    As with governments, universities should function under the minimalist paradigm, financial and otherwise.

  74. Tom

    LOL, James. Made my afternoon.

  75. lem

    There is much sense in this discussion. But nobody has brought up the truly important gift of Universities.

    Toga parties.

  76. Aliice

    Sinc says

    “No organisation needs to have deputy assistant pro-vice chancellors. Okay – that title might be a slight exaggeration but there is a lot of make-work within the system that is generated when the flunkies have flunkies all justifying their very important job that means they can’t teach or research.”

    How spot on is this comment? Anyone that works in a uni in a teaching or research position knows it.

  77. Monkey's Uncle

    Tel @6:16,

    You really deserve a standing ovation. That is one of the funniest things I have read in a while.

  78. Aliice

    Kae

    The course outline do NOT need to be that long. Graduate outcomes are the product of accreditation which is the product of legislation. All those things did NOT need to be put into course outlines. The timetable and the subjects and lecture content is fine but all the rest was never ever needed prior to the last ten years AND the students dont read it. Deadlines and penalties can be posted as an announcement online.

    The course outlines have become ridiculous parodies and get larger every year as have marking guides.
    It is a pure waste of time. They prattle on for pages. Even the plagiarism content should be in the students handbook and online as a uni policy. It does not need to be repeated in every subject guide ad nauseaum. Its a pure waste of paper, time and effort. Just because someone up the food chain says ‘it must be done’ doesnt make it efficient, like so much else in universities.

  79. Aliice

    kae – my name is Aliice.

  80. Julian mclaren

    Anyone who runs a proper business understands that cash flow is king. Eliminating the discount for upfront payment is eliminating the cash flow. In fact, perhaps it was not a 10% discount. Perhaps you simply paid more if you deferred. Crazy! CASHFLOW is king, these union hacks don’t know how to pay the bills.

  81. daddy dave

    “Online learning is vastly more efficient than traditional learning”

    No it isn’t. If you want set up a subject well, have decent assessment, decent communication with students and so on, the estimate from where I work is that it probably costs > 1.5 times a face-to-face student, and some things are basically impossible to do fully online (generally those that actually involves “skills” and doing stuff).

    Of course this is going to be area dependent, but the idea that you can do it all on the cheap, whilst something that puts a smile on the average university bureaucrat, is false, and the fact that many poor online courses have been set up on the cheap is currently giving everything a bad reputation.

    You’re taking too narrow a view of efficiency that doesn’t take into account such efficiencies as the fact that online courses don’t require a university campus. Also there are efficiencies in the students not having to travel. Just relocating to study alone is a massive ineffiency. On top of that the daily commute to campus is another. Removing those are efficiency gains.

    As for the poor quality online courses, well frankly I’d like to see a deregulated education marketplace, which will invariably result in an increase in the range of quality. There will be lower quality stuff as well as higher quality, as well as significant innovation.

  82. brc

    At the other extreme, if you are doing an MBA or similar part of the point is to build relationships and actually learn from other peoples’ experiences and personalities…different story. Then there are things in between.

    In my experience the problem with MBA courses is that they are socked full of public servants adding to their qualifications on the taxpayer dime. Learning from others experiences can then just be a session on navigating through the pay grades of the public service. They usually don’t have anything useful to add to the discussion, being so far removed from actual value creation and capital constraints.

  83. I reckon we could write a complex computer game kids could play which would teach what they would at school. It would automatically adapt to the child’s learning pace and work on weak areas. Various suppliers could compete with a wide variety of curriculum. The future pace of technological discovery would make it impossible for any teacher to keep pace and the industries our kids will work in haven’t been invented yet.

    If completely privatised there would soon be a vast array of curriculum choices; from Socialist indoctrination to orthopaedic surgery to mechatronics. Large corporates could free parents from the socialist education conspiracy by hiring kids from alternative education streams.

    Teachers unions will soon be obsolete and their staff could be redeployed to more productive ends such as washing windscreens at intersection or edging lawns.

  84. .

    If universities were instructed to reduce the number of non-academics senior management would reduce the number of librarians or student support officers and the like. This is a form of rent-seeking that always follows from efficiency dividends.

    I wouldn’t cut librarians.

    I was shocked, after reading the wit of a ‘deputy assistant pro vice chancellor’, that there actually are ‘assistant pro vice chancellors’. Maybe I’m a hick to be shocked by this. I thought a couple of pro vice chancellors would be enough.

    I did, however, find a title in the Australian uni system, ‘acting assistant pro vice chancellor’.

    The scary thing is the ‘assistant pro vice chancellors’ and ‘acting assistant pro vice chancellors’ have their own executive and personal assistants, whom, I suspect, have their own grade 7-10 clerks.

  85. .

    LOL…there are also “acting personal assistants’.

  86. .

    Emeritus Deputy Chancellor ? Really guys?

  87. wreckage

    A university needs a chancellor. One. And that’s being generous.

  88. Andrew

    I was told by a former Gillard staffer, Nick Reece that if an election is held on issues such as Education and Health, Labor will always win. I guess if we held this election on what Labor is doing to education and especially universities, I don’t think so.

    On the other hand, he said that an election that is held on Border Protection will be on by the Liberals…typical Labor piece of shit.

  89. David Brewer

    Removal of the 10% upfront discount for paying HECS is yet another clear policy blunder.

    The 10% discount on HECS is NOT a subsidy. Those paying 90% upfront actually net the government more than those who defer. First they save the government the bother of running after them for years for the money. Second the government gets the money now, with no risk that the person will go overseas, die, marry someone rich and give up work etc. – so that they never pay the debt at all. Third, the net present value of the future stream of repayments will be under 90% of the debt in the first place. This is because HECS debt is only indexed at the CPI. The CPI is far below the long-term bond rate, or the rate of increase of government revenue or spending. With CPI-only discounting, 90% now is worth more to the government than 100% paid over 10 years or more.

    The government has already reduced the discount from 20% to 10%. That probably wasn’t justified. But at least it still left the illusion for students or more likely their rich parents that they got some sort of benefit from paying upfront. But how many will be crazy enough to pay upfront when just by putting the same amount on term deposit in the kid’s name, they can easily beat the indexation of the debt? After all, the kid is not going to be paying taxes while studying. They can get tax-free interest of 4 or 5 per cent by putting their money in the bank, while their debt is only growing at 2%.

    A bit of this was pointed out by Cassidy and Sava on Insiders this morning, Sava observing that HECS debt was $26 billion, and HECS bad debt $6 billion. Those figures would imply the discount should be 25% – or perhaps 35%, if you stuck with CPI indexing.

    Would not surprise me if there is yet another U-turn coming here. If not, the budget will actually suffer rather than benefit, and quite possibly as soon as next financial year. People who use Australian universities may be dumb, but they’re not stupid!

    PS – of course I don’t mean the people who take your courses, Sinc!

  90. Cool Head

    My business (Aussie expat) is involved with one of the largest venture capital firms in NY (top 5 US), they certainly believe that online universities in some form will be big. Currently they are backing 2 online university start-ups in the same fund that my company is in. Once upon a time I told my wife that every home would have a computer, it took longer than I expected, but you need to look at the cost of a college education here in the US, especially in relation to the poor return for new and recent graduates in the current US economy. In 10 years we will be wondering why we had this conversation.

  91. Popular Front

    That cartoon reminds me of a line from ‘Yes, Minister’ where Jim says, “We have to take on more staff in order to reduce……staff”.

  92. I have a simple solution for one area of overfunding within the universities: academic grant applications—like applications for liquor licences and proposals for house extensions in the non-academic world—must be presented for public comment by having details published in public notices of daily newspapers ere those proposals may be considered by academic grants committees. A little well-deserved public mockery and long-overdue public accountability, of fear thereof, might beneficently excise some of the insaner projects—hoping to prove, for example, that orphans in western Canadian literature between the wars tended to have unhappy childhoods, or that opponents of propagandists for anthropogenic global warming tend both to oppose them and to be hypocritically accused of all sorts of silliness—from the grants troughs.

  93. Up The Workers!

    Only an all-singing, all dancing, comedian with a gob full of used contact lenses, could deliver a line like that with a straight face.

    LABOR – the only party in the world so dumb that it even mis-spells its own name!

    LABOR – it has no room for “U”!

  94. Jazza

    So Emo ,for all his “scholarly traits”, is advocating the simple old ,seemingly expedient,method of meeting one’s commitment ,favoured by the poor and desperate,of: “Rob Peter to pay Paul”????
    Yes, Labor are economic “managers” all right, they manage to waste any dollar that comes their way

  95. James Barlow, NT

    Sinclair

    Two things. One, there’s no such thing as a federally mandated efficiency dividend in Australia. It’s simply a budget cut. Spend 30 minutes in the APS and you’d understand this. (Yes, you hint at how universities apply efficiency dividends but why don’t we just agree to call a turd a turd?)

    Two, due the TEQSA Act tertiary education facilities (of which only the universities are considered important by government) are the preserve of Canberra. The $2.5b ‘cut’ does not impact on the States/Territories. What’s on offer is just a bribe aimed at securing bits and pieces at COAG. Which the Government will call an Agreement.

    Again, a turd is a turd, no matter how much glitter you roll it in.

  96. Emmo has just invoked, on ABC’s News Breakfast, “No-one will be left behind”.

  97. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Universities have become a paper wasting reporting fetid swamp.

    It sounds as though Course Outlines have got even worse in this regard since I last prepared one, Alice. I am so glad I no longer need to work in that swampy environment. What a lot of guff is in that drivel about objectives and outcomes.

    We aim to teach you this content, and the outcome is that you should know it: that would do, I think.

    It should all be solved soon however with a phone app that can be scanned for the more detailed ‘required’ information, with the paper piece being merely the synopsis plus content outline and readings. Or maybe the whole thing will become an app, which will transfer costs of printing over to the student (everyone wants a printed copy?).

  98. WhaleHunt Fun

    Why stop there Deadman?
    Remember the marking schemes by the more real-world educators … one mark on for a correct answer but one mark off for an incorrect.
    Same thing should apply. Proposals rubbished in the public arena should remove funding from a previously approved project.

  99. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Not sure that an online experience gives you that.

    It doesn’t come near it, James.

    I’m glad I did what I did too. The day exams finished and another year of study was over. The thrill of having managed to write a good paper, remembering and arguing it all, or all the maths coming good, my left hand crippled by the effort.

    The shrieking inebriated post-mortems in the pub.
    A long hot summer coming in. Parties and bliss.
    The absolute sense that you belonged here.
    You were a student. That was your identity.

    Life, and the world, was ahead of you.

    Until the money ran out and waitressing called for next year’s textbooks;
    but even then, you were a student.

  100. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    kae – my name is Aliice.

    That’s very dignified, Alice. Keep it up.

    But must we use the double ‘i’ ?

    Or is there a dispensation, and we can go as in Wonderland? 🙂

  101. WhaleHunt Fun, I like the way you think.

  102. candy

    Cutting the 10 percent discount for paying upfront is strange. Parents who want to get a significant discount and just pay and be done with nothing owing later on, they have no motivation to do so. Insane policy.

  103. Aliice

    Lizzie

    Out of respect to Sinc I decided to retain the double ii in Aliice. He may have been socialising when he set my name up (purely hypothetical of course but I rather like it).

  104. dan

    Cutting the 10 percent discount for paying upfront is strange. Parents who want to get a significant discount and just pay and be done with nothing owing later on, they have no motivation to do so. Insane policy.

    You’re telling me! I paid $10,000 upfront for a degree last time and am doing an MBA-type thing that will cost some $25,000 bucks. I would have paid the lot off in a couple of years in return for the deduction. Now it will take years.

  105. Aliice

    OK – a quick scroll through uni organisation structures online can be very revealing. I have found at one uni – and I am sure this is repeated at most unis,

    An office of sustainability
    1 Director
    7 Admin staff

    An office of social inclusion

    1 PVC
    3 Directors
    3 Managers

    2.an office of community participation and engagement

    1 director
    1 Deptuty director
    6 program managers
    8 faculty participation managers.

    4.A typical research office in a Sydney uni? (headed up by a DVC – and you people think he only has 4 bureaucrats?

    Try this on for size..

    1 Deputy VC
    1 EA to the DVC
    3 Directors
    2 Solicitors
    13 Managers
    5 Heads
    3 Assistants
    25 Officers
    7 assistants

    Now you see why the cuts will go straight to teaching and lecturing and the students. Look at the armies above us who will make damn sure it isnt them that gets cut when the Gonski cuts arrive.

  106. dd

    Now you see why the cuts will go straight to teaching and lecturing and the students. Look at the armies above us who will make damn sure it isnt them that gets cut when the Gonski cuts arrive.

    This is absolutely true. The bureaucrats are in charge of who gets the cuts.

    If you keep cutting, eventually the bureaucracies will feel the pinch too.
    But the better way is deregulation of the entire sector.

  107. Chris

    Cutting the 10 percent discount for paying upfront is strange. Parents who want to get a significant discount and just pay and be done with nothing owing later on, they have no motivation to do so. Insane policy.

    I suspect that there’s quite a few parents who will still pay the fees for their children up front even without a discount. It doesn’t make financial sense and they’d be better off just giving their children the cash, but they want their children to leave university without a debt. And to some parents its not a significant amount of money anyway.

    I would have paid the lot off in a couple of years in return for the deduction. Now it will take years.

    Sure, and from the government’s point of view you still will pay off the debt, with interest (albeit only at CPI). About the only way to avoid paying off the debt is to leave the country permanently.

    Re: private student education loans – presumably there would need to be legislation in terms of bankruptcy. Otherwise for many students it would make financial sense to take out a big loan and at the start of their life with no assets just declare bankruptcy and start fresh with no debt.

  108. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    It will take leadership from the top to really reduce the bloated areas of administration, from VC’s who are not afraid to rock the boat.

    In a quick review of Aliice’s findings:

    Fifteen can go by getting rid of “Sustainability” and “Social Inclusion”.

    Send all Deans, Heads of Schools, and Heads of Departments a paper on it, which they can skim read (OK, nothing new there, we either do that already or don’t need it), or immediately file in WPB, at their leisure.

    ‘Community Participation and Engagement’ – another thirteen jobs can go – keep one Director and two program managers and redefine the tasks as publicity and fund-raising (Oh, I see, publicity is covered by 22 people in your Media Group; sorry).

    All Faculties to include other participation activities as part of their brief. Not hard, most do this already. Farm the tasks out to under-researching staff.

    On ‘Research’ – far more of a case to keep funding and staffing up in this area – Universities live or die by their research performance. Legal issues are important and good advice is often needed – keep at least one solicitor. Keep all areas that assist academic staff to jump funding application hoops. Carefully look at what is really needed and what is excess to those research things that academics are capable of doing for themselves (give them a push to do so). A DVC and a couple of Directors should suffice, with selective cuts to the rest depending on functions and judged utility.

    Another fave – ‘Teaching and Learning’ – is important, like Research, but it is usually very bloated and the value add is often unclear. Investigate it.

    Aliice brings the VC’s a message from the coalface, and I have offered them some programmatic specificity.

    If only a tenth of the actions suggested here were implemented across all adminstrative areas, Universities would be well in front of the cuts.

    Fleet of piggies on the wing right now though with regard to this.

  109. Pingback: exercise in Labor futility … | pindanpost

  110. Aliice

    Lizzie I forgot to mention there were two entire “research departments”. One for research and one for higher degree research so you can add to those numbers again.
    I have not even yet mentioned the vast numbers in IT and HR these days. Then there are “information” departments’ “memory departments” “analytics departments” and “equity and diversity departments’. The lists go on in other words. That was just a small sample. Some unis dont even list the administrative staff numbers in each of their departments.

  111. Aliice

    The worst of it all is Lizzie – those academics on the ground lecturing are already pushed to the maximum to report to keep all these other departments up the feed chain happy (report on equity and diversity, report on sustainability, report on community engagement, report on graduate outcomes, report on quality?) happy in their own jobs. How would you describe the sheer volume of paper reporting that has been created and snowed working lecturers under in the past ten years?
    A tad excessive might be an understatement so I dont think making those poor sods work harder is the answer here. You need to stop them breeding themselves up the food chain.

  112. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    Get rid of the reporting chain by closing down the units feeding on it, Aliice, and the on-the-ground teaching and research job becomes immediately lightened, giving more time to do some community liaison or for looking after students.

    I think we are basically on the same page here; stop them from breeding up is part of the answer. Don’t have the chain leading into ‘soft’ areas like T and L, or Equity and Diversity etc, and problem partly solved. Also cut the plethora of PVC’s, DVC’s and such and return funds to pay lower-level academics more or ease their loads. Have VC in titles only where it really counts to have them (the coin is very debased right now) and have good ones, with some commercial as well as scholarly acumen. Lefties infest these roles; exit them. And don’t let fools into these positions lightly, as all to often happens now, the Julia Principle operating here for both genders.

    I’ve seen it all too, Aliice.

    Having said that, there are some great people at work in the sector still, at all levels. Unchain them and it will thrive.

  113. candy

    “I suspect that there’s quite a few parents who will still pay the fees for their children up front even without a discount.”

    I don’t know about that, Chris. They might be inclined to say bugger the government they’ve not getting all my money like that without even a discount, and just go the debt way. Incentives work.

  114. Aliice

    We are on the same page on this one Lizzie. There is one deputy pro VC I can think of who got there by being the manager of the IT dept who only has a bachelor of business to their name.
    There are also lots of A/Ps and Professors who have not published recently and do not even have a phd (the criteria for entry level positions now). Are they entitled to the title?. It should not be handed out so loosely (along with the salary of course).

  115. NoFixedAddress

    private enterprise created public education

  116. kae

    Lizzie

    Coure Outlines are all available on the web.

  117. Aliice

    Kae – I know course outlines available on the web (I dont argue that) but many students like to print them out and keep them with their notes for very good reasons (seeing as it contains their timetbable and homework and assessment requirements). They do not ALL walk around unis with laptops.

    Its pathetic that for the fees, the uni cannot even provide a printed out copy of the course outline for students. Unis used to to do that before they became so bloody mindedly fixated on shaving costs from the classrooms and students. Now unis think its a great idea to “save paper” by foisting the cost of printing them out on students.

    Should I have to explain customer service? No and the fact is “customer service” for students is not a priority at all.

    Did anyone ask the students what they would prefer before the unis made a decision to “give them the course outline only online?” My suggestion to you is that they would like a hardcopy and an online copy and its the least the unis could do seeing as many students are paying full fees now.

  118. Aliice

    Kae to take it a step further. The course outline could be divided into two. A practical use section printed out and provided to students and the part B) ie the extensive wordage on “graduate outcomes” and all the rest of the liability disclaimer crap the uni includes to basically cover its own posterior could be put online.

  119. Aliice

    Anyway Kae – I wouldnt bother worrying about the course outline. If they do Gonski (and if they do – as Leigh notes – it could be a cynical ploy to make the conservative state gumments look bad by knocking back “Red’s Ejucation plans” before an election)…?

    But if they do, after that it wont just be myself and the students services they cut anyway. It may well be you also. OR at least I will be gone and more of you will be “cashlessualised”. I suppose the bloated admin boffins will eventually come to the conclusion they can use dead teachers online recordings in perpetuity.

    From a comment on LP

    “Wont be long for on-campus students can get credit online, leading to further ‘efficiencies’ as teaching staff are replaced by “e-learning advisors” with a pre-cooked curriculum that no longer requires the lecturer who originally drafted it.”

    This is here already, and is exactly what happens where I work (and Robert for that matter — although it’s my faculty that’s gone crazy with it, and we are given about 14 hours per year to “oversee it”). Our VC has expressly said that she wants all students to experience the wonders of it in their degrees at least once, so soon, for better or worse, there will be no avoiding it.'”

    They only need one AV guy to plug and play them.

    on LP in Gonski commentary

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