On hating the universities

From the centre-right:

Rather than bleat for a government bailout, university VCs ought to focus on their core business, as taxpayer-funded universities, for Australian students.

Janet Albrechtsen

From the centre-left:

But I’m not sorry for the universities, though I’m among their casualties. Their willing self-transformation from genuine educational institutions into greedy, profit-chasing corporations that raise fees, lower standards and pour billions into huge new buildings to attract fee-paying “international” students while refusing to divest themselves of fossil-fuel investments make this a long-warranted correction.

Elizabeth Farrelly

The voice of calm moderation

Arguments that the crisis demonstrates that “we have become too reliant on China” are just silly. Any trading entity is reliant upon having paying customers. This is a criticism that has especially been levelled at universities. Usually by the same people who otherwise complain that universities are too reliant on government and should be more market orientated and business-like. Intellectual consistency is often in short supply. Having paying customers is always a good thing.

Sinclair Davidson

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72 Responses to On hating the universities

  1. Mak Siccar

    JA’s comment that you quote is not inconsistent with your comment Prof Sinc.

  2. Tim Neilson

    Sinc,
    There’s such a thing as trashing the brand.
    I won’t comment on unis, but consider e.g. Alex Malley’s disastrous tenure at the CPA’s.
    A friend of mine who scraped through Deakin commerce, taking 4 years to do the 3 year course, and had never studied accounting, was offered the CPA designation if he sat one online (i.e. unsupervised) exam.
    The CPA’s are going to take a long time to rebuild their credibility.
    So attracting more “paying customers” isn’t the be-all and end-all of a business model that depends on its (former) customers for its credibility.

  3. I’ll go with the CAs who study a less wide range of topics, but whose professional accreditation exams seem a lot harder.

  4. How does the current business model encourage good outcomes for ‘customers’?

    Seems like Australian students and the taxpayer aren’t getting what they paid for.

  5. iamok

    Deakin Burwood is a case in point. Millions on buildings, ever expanding, ever enrolling. Empire building in its grandest scale. And unnecessary.

  6. Entropy

    Totally dispassionate and disinterested eh Sinc?

    Truth is the system is delivering a different product to that expected by those who provide the core funding. And hthey have no choice in the matter.

    No wonder they resent it.

  7. nfw

    It’s amazing how the travel ban went into effect after the in-rush of Chinese, yeah right, students for this year. How about the Chinese influence at UQ where Hong Kong based students were assaulted by mainland Chinese “students” and other institutions? Nothing like those CCP propaganda units known as the Confucius Institutes is there? Apart from her comment about fossil fuels (as she uses the benefits of them every single day) I never thought I would agree with Elizabeth Farrelly about anything but she’s right on this.

    Most Chinese mainland “students” don’t work, have poor to no English, depend on the invented group work to carry them through and use their student visa as back door immigration which then brings in the families and especially the once were Red Guard grandparents.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    Janet wants universities on the taxpayer teat? Seriously?

  9. Entropy

    I would be looking to that frightbat for support, NFW. You are better off without her at your back.

  10. JC

    The voice of calm moderation

    Arguments that the crisis demonstrates that “we have become too reliant on China” are just silly. Any trading entity is reliant upon having paying customers. This is a criticism that has especially been levelled at universities. Usually by the same people who otherwise complain that universities are too reliant on government and should be more market orientated and business-like. Intellectual consistency is often in short supply. Having paying customers is always a good thing.

    Sure, but the problem with that approach is that co-mingling government/ business doesn’t work. If some of these universities flip over the wall, will they be allowed to fail? Will they be forced to make severe changes to their budgets or will the taxpayer make up the difference?

  11. Entropy

    FFS

    I would not be looking to that frightbat for support, NFW. You are better off without her at your back.

  12. stemple

    University what a f uckin waste of 4 years or more

  13. sfw

    “Having paying customers is a good thing”

    Not when the paying customers don’t care about the product just the credential at the end.

    They will pay big money for crap and the Australian students run up huge HEX fees to get the same crap credential, education seems to get lost along the way.

    Most uni courses with overseas students are just backdoor migration schemes that raise the cost of education and degrade the content of the courses at the same time.

  14. jupes

    Arguments that the crisis demonstrates that “we have become too reliant on China” are just silly.

    But not as silly as allowing China to set up propaganda units in Australian unis.

  15. Bruce of Newcastle

    Try looking at just how many Confucius Institutes the Aussie unis have in total. Not-so-soft power in action.

    As for the commentators including Sinc, the glorious irony is that unis have evolved into fee-for-service social justice buzzword propaganda organizations. The prestige value of the bit of paper is rapidly degrading as the actual “educations” the students come out with are worthless in the real world. And that is starting to affect STEM too, as I find on reading the mailouts from my old department in the last few years.

  16. Entropy

    VCs are also vigorously lobbying governments to help these foreign students out financially.
    Maybe do it yourself by delaying the next big building project you effing bonus seeking leeches.

  17. Fisky

    If some of these universities flip over the wall, will they be allowed to fail? Will they be forced to make severe changes to their budgets or will the taxpayer make up the difference?

    99% of “libertarians” will either support a government university bailout running in the billions, or they will be totally silent on the issue.

  18. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Arguments that … “we have become too reliant on China” are just silly.

    Barkin’ Betty Farrelly – still as mad as a meataxe! ⚰️

  19. bruce

    Sinclair “having paying customers is always good thing” no argument with that.
    But when one of your customers continues to grow its revenue stream to you outstripping your other customers, and you become more focussed on the needs and demands of your number one provider,
    you become very vulnerable when number one stops providing.
    Simply put too many eggs in one basket.

  20. Really Fisk, this is just like the have you stopped X?, no true scotsman fallacy etc and it is bluddee insufferable.

    The education system should receive $0 from the taxpayer.

    Saying no to bailouts would mean universities could sack macramé wavers, educationalists and sociologists.

  21. Hay Stockard

    When I was working with students I would come across some stuff that was high school level in my day.
    I have to endorse heartily the above posters.

  22. calli

    Arguments that the crisis demonstrates that “we have become too reliant on China” are just silly. Any trading entity is reliant upon having paying customers.

    Is a university a “trading entity” now? Like my business?

    How bizarre.

  23. Ubique

    The Fin Review has to be the only Green-left business newspaper in the world. And it has a paywall. Can’t read Sinc’s article.

  24. vr

    How universities handle grades (and calculation of the GPA) will be instructive. All exams have moved online. So, students are not sitting these under exam conditions. Do universities use a pass/fail system or do they not acknowledge that this was an unusual semester and calculate GPAs as they normally would.

  25. RobK

    The voice of calm moderation
    Chuckle 😀

  26. Watch Your Back

    To be blunt, I would close down most of the courses in tourism, business studies, gender and politics. They are non-essential.

    Further, I’d close down several universities. Or, if not, make parents aware that communism and silly degrees don’t lead to employment. Just fake jobs as apparatchiks.

    Universities should go back to the 1960s before they were trashed. We simply don’t need them anymore.

  27. RobK

    I think there is something to be said for more scholarships/bursaries both public and private. And perhaps more internship type deals. Anything to filter the wheat from the chaff early.

  28. Entropy

    Downgrade all but the sandstone unis back to CAEs. That is all they really are. Teachers colleges.

  29. The voice of calm moderation

    That’s something Turnbull would say.

  30. Art Vandelay

    The education system should receive $0 from the taxpayer.

    Spot on. Universities should be privatised immediately.

    Moreover, all taxpayer grants for what passes for research these days should be abolished. If academics want funding for their studies, they should have to seek it from the private sector.

  31. Entropy

    Cadetships need to be brought back too. Enough having to try and pick out useful graduates out of a grab bag of Environmental studies and other useless basket weaving degrees. Let’s work hand in hand with the unis that remain after this to actually not only train them for something useful, but to be useful. As it is it takes at least three years before you can rely on a graduate. Three years!

  32. Peter Finch

    To be honest I’m tired of commenting on the declining standards of education in this country. Everyone knows the problem but no-one is prepared to fix it. Sure there are lots of selfish individuals keen on retaining the current death dive to oblivion but someone needs to extract the digit and fix it. I’m towards the end of my life but willing to hop on board the 5 to midnight express because when we hit midnight the lights turn off and we awake into Mad Max. Somebody, somewhere, somehow needs to get this going. Whining at the side will be nothing but whining at the side, i.e. no outcome.

  33. Suburban Boy

    Sinc, we don’t hate the universities – just the greedy, overpaid commie scum who run them and infest their humanities and social science faculties.

  34. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    Went through uni and did an IT degree. Was lumped with four non English speakers and was told that unless the projects were successful I would be failed. I worked my arse off and did the whole thing myself because they couldn’t and in all honesty couldn’t be bothered because they knew how the system worked. I have no idea how they could have passed any of the exams? They took zero interest as they could not understand any of the tutorials ? Anyway, we all passed. Me because I did all the work and deserved to passed. The Asians passed because they paid. The whole system is corrupt! Work it out for yourself.

  35. Tim Neilson

    Colonel Bunty Golightly
    #3417904, posted on April 18, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Fact check: True.

    My God-daughter had been at uni for 4 weeks when she worked out that she should never enrol in a subject where the assessment involved “group” work.

  36. Crossie

    Having paying customers is always a good thing.

    Yes, but what are the universities selling? Are they offering learning and education or degrees? It appears they are offering degrees for fees and making sure these are delivered, one way or another. It has already been documented in the media that the way to ensure a degree for international students is group work assessments with at least one good domestic student being in each group to make sure that all members pass.

  37. Crossie

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3417587, posted on April 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm
    Janet wants universities on the taxpayer teat? Seriously?

    The VC at my university explained it quite dispassionately where the funding is coming from, mostly federal government in some form or another, the rest is made up by international students. I believe that most prestigious Australian universities, and probably yours, are heavily exposed to international students and thus will suffer huge losses.

    What happens now? I understand that the VCs are trying to get the government to either support the international students who are already here but cannot work or lift the lockdown.

  38. Entropy

    Colonel Bunty Golightly
    #3417904, posted on April 18, 2020 at 7:53 pm
    Went through uni and did an IT degree. Was lumped with four non English speakers and was told that unless the projects were successful I would be failed. I worked my arse off and did the whole thing myself because they couldn’t and in all honesty couldn’t be bothered because they knew how the system worked. I have no idea how they could have passed any of the exams? They took zero interest as they could not understand any of the tutorials ? Anyway, we all passed. Me because I did all the work and deserved to passed. The Asians passed because they paid. The whole system is corrupt! Work it out for yourself

    Master entropy has had a very similar experience last year. He has since dumped that course and that Dawkins uni.

    It reminds my of the Pakistani foreign students we had doing a masters with our first year undergraduate class. Arrogant bastards were apparently the sons of the big men in the village they cane from, funded by Australian foreign aid of course. I really realised what a farce it was when in exams the one near me only managed one single page for all the essay Qs for the whole exam, and spent most of the exam colouring each sentence with a different coloured marker pen. They all passed of course.

  39. Crossie

    Suburban Boy
    #3417835, posted on April 18, 2020 at 7:12 pm
    Sinc, we don’t hate the universities – just the greedy, overpaid commie scum who run them and infest their humanities and social science faculties.

    Oh, God yes. Late last year there was a huge staff meeting at my university where we were informed of new units being planned that needed to be supported by all divisions. Do you know what most of them were? Activist courses that needed to be integrated in all disciplines. God help us!

    For all I know, these are still on track.

  40. Rafe Champion

    Andrew Norton has been blogging solidly on the university situation, too much to read unless you really want to get into detailed analysis. Salvatore Babones has had a lot to say as well specifically regarding the risk of depending heavily on Chinese students.

    My budget has been destroyed by the absence of a brown paper bag rent paying student relative of my wife who is languishing in Beijing after he went home for the long vacation. Feel free to dob me in because I think it was not enough to attract tax.

  41. Davey Boy

    … and we silly lao wai should just get used to it

  42. Hay Stockard

    Any one over here from,Red China has some sort or another of affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party.
    Our so-called betters are selling the Reds the rope to hang us with.

  43. Fisky

    What happens now? I understand that the VCs are trying to get the government to either support the international students who are already here but cannot work or lift the lockdown.

    The reality is that universities are lobbying for billions of dollars in bailouts, and “libertarian” academics basically want the bailout (otherwise they’d be out of a job) but not openly. So that’s why we are talking about a complete nonsense that will never happen – a “free market” in tertiary education – instead of discussing the problem of university welfare queens demanding handouts when their biggest customers are no longer paying.

    Libertarians MUST state clearly and forthrightly that they totally oppose ANY government assistance to universities! Go!

  44. Judith Sloan

    Having paying customers whose real motivation is to obtain permanent residence is something else.

  45. classical_hero

    Bemused, that was brilliant.

  46. Crossie

    Judith Sloan
    #3418081, posted on April 18, 2020 at 9:46 pm
    Having paying customers whose real motivation is to obtain permanent residence is something else.

    That’s all Australian universities are now, permanent residency factories.

  47. Boambee John

    Judith Sloan
    #3418081, posted on April 18, 2020 at 9:46 pm
    Having paying customers whose real motivation is to obtain permanent residence is something else.

    Indeed. The greatest scam ever perpetrated on Australia. The follow on effects, even if the scam ended today, will be with us for decades.

  48. Whalehunt Fun

    Having paying customers is always a good thing.

    Having communist filth corrupt your business, corrupt your nation’s government and steal every bit of IP the filth can lay hands on, is perhaps not quite what I could see as a “good thing”.

    A good thing would be the seizure of all assetts of any person possessing a PRC passprt. The cancellation of Australian citizenship and or residence right if they happen to have them as well as a PRC passport. The deportation of them stark naked to the PRC. Not one assett. Not a used tissue, not a shoe, not a credit card. Every, and I mean every item they own seized and sold or destroyed. On the plane buck naked and dumped out the door without the aid of an airbridge or stairs.

    Now that would be a good thing. Killing 140,000 people deserves some slight reaction and this would be a tiny start. A small indication to the PRC elite of what they deserve.

  49. Squirrel

    The university sector is one of many which is unlikely to revert to the old normal when the worst of the virus impacts have passed – miracles aside, foreign student revenues are unlikely to return to former levels.

    As part of the “national sovereignty” theme which the government is currently talking up (and which will probably play very, very well electorally), there may well be solid public support for a university sector which is clearly seen to be contributing to that.

    This might (horror of horrors) mean a bit more “picking of winners” – i.e. targeting of public funding to identified priority areas – but the alternative of let-a-hundred-flowers-bloom and anyone-with-a-pulse- can-and-most certainly-should-get-a-degree has not exactly been without its problems.

  50. LOL

    Poor Fisk

    Shit scared that teachers won’t be able to extort 90k a year for babysitting.

    There is absolutely no need for any taxpayer funding of education whatsoever.

    Any proposal to cut university funding, I will support too.

  51. Brian May

    Stay in your ivory reading Turnbull fiction while spewing forth nonsense to Chinese interlopers looking for a backdoor way to Australian citiizenship. Face it, Sinclair, you are not a real conservatiive or even a genuine right-winger. You are a whore – someone who has sold out his own people or quick cash. When the day of reckoning comes, I sincerely hope you get what is coming to you.

  52. Mak Siccar

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3417587, posted on April 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm
    Janet wants universities on the taxpayer teat? Seriously?

    As I read what she said, Janet is simply acknowledging the fact that Universities are already taxpayer supported entities.

  53. struth

    Brian May .

    Harsh but spot on.
    Sinclair is South African so has never appeared too bothered by Australia’s plight.
    Libertarian not a conservative anyway.
    Dangerous people especially in times like these.

  54. Terry

    ‘Libertarian not a conservative anyway.’

    Lobbying for unfettered access to someone else’s hip pocket is hardly “Libertarian”; anarcho-narcissist seems more apt.

  55. Rafe Champion

    Be nice to Sinc, you might want a lend of his car sometime!

  56. Rafe Champion

    Forgot to mention, SA is importing coal power at 600MW, more than half the demand.

  57. Terry

    ‘SA is importing coal power at 600MW’
    Someone please unplug the extension cord. SA must not be denied the full enjoyment of their smug RE Utopia. Unplug the ACT while you’re at it.

  58. Sydney Boy

    Colonel Bunty Golightly
    #3417904, posted on April 18, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Fact check: True.

    And in the meantime, check out this funny piece taking the piss out of predatory journals.

  59. Herodotus

    The voice of moderation!
    To those of us who have been subjected to “moderation” here and elsewhere, it’s a dirty word.

  60. Rafe Champion

    Thanks Sydney Boy, I will give that some circulation!

  61. Brian May
    #3418287, posted on April 19, 2020 at 12:55 am
    Stay in your ivory reading Turnbull fiction while spewing forth nonsense to Chinese interlopers looking for a backdoor way to Australian citiizenship. Face it, Sinclair, you are not a real conservatiive or even a genuine right-winger. You are a whore – someone who has sold out his own people or quick cash. When the day of reckoning comes, I sincerely hope you get what is coming to you.

    Come off it you silly old wanker.

    Sinclair has put forward proposals to privatise universities.

    You are completely off your rocker. There is nothing backdoor about the path to citizenship. It is completely open and legal you unhinged loon. The problem is the soft marking and low academic standards.

    Now what about the right? The best you could do was walk into Turnbull’s honeytrap (Australian “Conservatives”) , and get plated up like lambs for lions.

    If you’re going to give Sinclair the rope for…(having a job?), then have an iota of mercy and plow through other candidates first.

    Executioner, heal thyself.

    Make sure to treat yourself to a good drop tonight.

  62. Tel

    Libertarians MUST state clearly and forthrightly that they totally oppose ANY government assistance to universities! Go!

    I oppose any government assistance to the universities.

    At the federal government level it’s totally unconstitutional in Australia anyhow.

    The trouble is how to wind back our current system, but probably putting a cap on current government backed student loans would be a start, then shrinking the cap. Shutting down direct government research grants which mostly pay for AGW Climate Justice stuff these days.

  63. H B Bear

    Unix are an integral part of the population GDP ponzi and wii die with it.

  64. I agree with the good Professor, customers are great.

    Whether you then roll over and let Emperor Xi scratch your tummy is up to you and your other customers.

  65. Kneel

    “They all passed of course.”

    A friend who was a senior lecturer in STEM course tells me of being hauled before his “superiors” and asked to explain why one particular full-fee paying student failed – in front of the fee-paying parents of said student. His reply was “Because he failed the test”. Parents were not upset with him for this – they were more upset that their child had not applied themselves sufficiently to be able to pass. That said “superior” was not inclined to answer openly and honestly as my friend did speaks much of current uni culture – and it’s not a good look.

  66. Mother Lode

    One of the least reputable aspects of the modern university is all the BS humanities and politics courses, which would hardly be attracting many overseas paying students.

    I don’t expect these courses cost that much – not really requiring an investment in technology such as science and engineering (there is no technology for ‘muh feelz’) or plugging into the expanding apparatus of law.

    But they make less as it would take longer for a BS humanities graduate to pay off their loan. But they have a political presence which benefits no one. I suspect the overseas students are helping to pay for the ‘political theory’ and ‘critical studies’ courses.

  67. Bob

    I know it’s a kind of cruel fun to quote Elizabeth Farrelly, a.k.a. Nutty Betty, but it’s rather like quoting doddery Joe Biden who’s confused about who his wife is, what day it is, or where he left his underpants.
    Nutty Betty gets taken out for walks after dark, and she’s occasionally allowed to dictate a column now and then if she’s taken her meds and calmed down. “After dark” because the poor old dear thinks sunlight= climate change = The Devil, and descends into a major fit. So let’s be kind to the poor wretch in her sunset years.

  68. WDYSIA

    Yes you can have paying students as long as they go home at the end of their course. Instead paying students are now our immigration policy because many of them are here not for an education but for a residence visa. And when Sydney University hires Soupy race monger as director of culture and your own city has parking signs in Chinese or RMIT starts spamming your phone spruiking its latest blockchain course you know universities are no longer education providers either. Higher education is now smelling like one giant ponzi scheme. A fetid swamp that needs draining. I’m all for higher learning. But I’d be very happy if a few of our universities dried up and died. Preferably collapse into screaming heaps never to be resurrected.

  69. Graham

    Frankly, I think you could bulldoze half the ‘universities’ in Australia and society would be better off. Perhaps a more targeted strategy would be to remove about half the courses/academics/students in these benighted places. My strategy would include bulldozing 2/3rds of the law schools as a high priority. It goes beyond saying that there is no need for courses in journalism, media studies etc.

  70. stevem

    I never thought I’d agree with Elizabeth Farrelly. It asn’t until the end that she came good.

    refusing to divest themselves of fossil-fuel investments

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