Monday, June 13, 2005

Stand up for the rights of our UniversitiesJ
une 7, 2005
AGE Letters

Vice-Chancellors - stand up and say enough is enough!

With the gathering of the industrial-relations storm clouds over Australian universities, one must see that the pestilence that such clouds will bring to the higher education sector has been partly encouraged by the timidity of the collective known as vice-chancellors.

They have fallen in line behind the Howard Government every step of the way, encouraged by the trappings of prestige and high salaries that the Government has bankrolled for them.

In a mere decade, the Howard Government has changed the once-proud culture of service and the old-trait professionalism of university life, which was once based on full support for staff, students and the community. These institutions have been turned into gross, greedy businesses driven by the profit motive.

Today, students are seen as assets, cultivated for institutional sustainability, on an endless treadmill of courses to pay more and more for the running of the institutions.

Staff are seen as collateral for exploitation and if somehow they are damaged by risky and even crackpot realist Federal Government policies on teaching, learning, research and now industrial relations - too bad. Go along with at any cost, must get the cash!

Is there a vice-chancellor anywhere in the land who will stand up publicly to the Federal Government and say enough is enough?

Current and future waves of staff, students, and the nation at large, will roundly condemn you, one and all, for not doing your real jobs - defending the autonomy of the higher education sector from a nasty, ill-informed, interventionist and, dare I say it, anti-intellectual Federal Government.

You have your test - stand up now and bravely lead us out of this madness.

Don't leave the fight to your unionised staff alone. Don't fail Australian society.

Neville Millen, sociologist, Deakin University