And her exit party might not be far away as the long term career prospects for a lecturer in Humanities in an Australian university can’t be particularly secure.
Today’s whine is on the subject of the financial viability of the university sector, after a year of massively reduced revenue.
In a moment of exquisite irony and demonstrating a profound lack of introspection, Janna Hates discusses critical thinking and freedom of speech. Obviously, she then follows that up by not addressing any of the huge pachyderm-shaped objects in the refectory.
Please bear in mind Jenna teaches journalism, and then wonder about the quality standards we will be subjected to from her students.
The university system in this country is dying. The government used the pandemic to destroy the places for critical conversations; and university management mostly rolled over.
The second sentence both presumes motives, mind reading in other words, and demonstrates a keen grasp of irony when suggesting the Australian academe isn’t an ideological echo chamber.
Mass redundancies, both voluntary and forced across the sector, have left big gaps in teaching staff. In some places that led to decisions to close down subjects, courses, departments. Right now, nearly every university is considering merging faculties.
Which departments are merging, do we think? Physics with Mathematics? Medicine with Engineering? Or maybe Gender Studies with Sociology? Go on, have a guess.
She continues with a complaint over the availability of the government furlough scheme to private but not public universities. Prima facie, that sounds quite damning. Of course, the critical thinkers amongst us might wish to investigate further.
It turns out, some private universities qualified for the furlough schemes due to having a lower turnover and assistance was made available to all universities based on a per capita payment for domestic students.
What two hypotheses might we consider based on those facts?
How about, (1) for reasons unknown, publicly funded universities are significantly larger in financial turnover than private universities and (2) they’d all be a lot better off right now if they didn’t rely heavily on overseas students.
Or, to put it another way, Jenna Hates is complaining because your taxes aren’t being used to bail out the educational infrastructure for overseas students.
Let’s go full reductio ad absurdum; Jenna Hates wants the income tax paid by an Australian worker stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift to be used to subsidise the
immigration scam education of Chinese kids with rich parents.
The rest of the article follows the usual modus operandi, wandering all over the place accusing “the government” of being negligent at best but most likely mendacious. Don’t waste your time on it unless you’ve really got nothing better to do. Maybe page to the bottom to spot where she can’t resist having a dig at a man who has been accused without proof, by a dead person, of rape and, because of this, should resign.
Let’s return to the original problem. Australian universities are haemorrhaging cash and are having to cut costs to survive.
That’s interesting, isn’t it. Because, as far as one can tell, Australian high schools are still pumping out kids with all the correct qualifications to go on to higher education. The student loan industry is still active and the economy is going gangbusters.
So why the big problems?
617,000 overseas students? What’s that as a percentage of all university students in a normal year? About 44%.
There isn’t a pandemic every year, of course, but even so, a sector which is ostensibly designed to educate a country’s population yet relies on the revenue generated from almost one overseas students for every domestic student was perhaps always built on risky business model.
It’s even worse than that; fees paid by overseas students are often as much as double those paid by domestic students. The first class passengers are subsidising the economy class travellers.
Or, more accurately, they’re not this year. Hence the subject of Jenna Hates’ current cause célèbre.
I’m really sorry anyone lost their job as a result of the governmental response to the virus. However, the reality is some sectors of the economy were already unsustainable before the pandemic.
An education sector which had grown to provide as many places to people from countries with recognised high quality universities as it does for its domestic customers was one such sector.
If it wasn’t the 2020 pandemic that caught it napping, it would have been the next financial crisis or cooling of international diplomacy.
There is another inconvenient fact our Lecturer in Journalism, Jenna Hates, fails to address; the overseas student visa has been primarily a fast track to residency for many students, with the academic achievement being a far distant second.
Perhaps a shrunken university sector might serve the Australian student population better as it would have to focus on the quality of the teaching of “hard” subjects with, y’know, actual careers waiting for them once they’ve graduated?
Think critically about that for a moment, Jenna Hates.