I’ve written much of the debasement of higher education, but I primarily focus on things I’ve seen with my own eyes, or things that confirm what I’ve seen. There’s much crud on the internet, and I do not wish to add to it.
This focus means that I’ve primarily discussed the dastardly deeds of American universities; I’m only currently gaining some experience with a foreign university, perhaps in a few more years I’ll have something relevant to say there.
I do read much, of course, and recently came upon a treatise discussing the fraud of Australian higher education in some detail. Much like me, the author is a professor in a technical field, and knows fraud as fraud, regardless of any threats about “not acting collegial” as students and taxpayers are robbed blind.
“It is the story of the transformation of our higher education system from one that delivered a rigorous education, producing highly competent graduates, many of whom distinguished themselves on the international stage, into two-dollar-shop degree factories…”
I hardly know where to begin in discussing this work; when I first started, I thought perhaps I’d encountered my Australian doppelganger, as so much of what he said mirrored my own words. A few select quotes:
Perhaps the most egregious example of this approach that has come to my attention was that of a lecturer of a third year class who gave a multiple choice examination that contained the same questions in the same order as the practice examination that the students had received a few days earlier. The lecturer then self-nominated for the university‟s teaching award and won! No doubt the SFT was excellent and the student endorsement required for the teaching award was glowing and easy to obtain!! –the approach being referenced is the “student as customer” approach.
This quote is likewise what’s so very demented in higher education in the US as well. The weakest, easiest, least challenging teachers are the ones that get all the rewards. Teachers with integrity or standards are shown the door, sometimes violently.
I’m ashamed to admit, in order to keep admin happy, I’ve done the above. I would still do it, but I found myself so disgusted by students that, even when presented with the questions and answers in advance, still fail abysmally, that I couldn’t handle it anymore. My error, of course, is I would ask questions that required some effort to learn and understand; the key is to make the questions very, very, simple, AND tell the students in advance what the answers are. Then the teaching awards shall flow!
I’m not joking, I’ve seen many teachers of outright bogus courses like the above get promotions, praise, awards, and money for their “innovative” teaching methods.
I once received a comment that “The lecturer tried to teach us stuff we didn‟t know”
Much as I’ve commented before, there are many courses on campus that are content free, or at best contain only the most obvious of information. Teacher after teacher of their courses tell me “it’s just common sense stuff” and see nothing odd about presenting it as advanced education. I grant that common sense is good to know, but most of the trillion dollars of student loan debt has gone to courses teaching students material about as sophisticated as “do not urinate on electric fences.” Students complain about courses that teach new information…and admin removes courses that cause complaints. It’s not complicated, but also leads to graduates that have no measurable knowledge.
…from the Dean, “These are fee paying students. Give them what they want.” In short, the grades went up, managerial blood pressure went down and important feathers were smoothed.
Time and again I’ve pointed out how administration has enforced the watering down of higher education in the US. It’s clearly no different in Australia.
Despite the many similarities, there are differences between his book and my book (although we both include all the contents for free online). I’ve ranted much about the evil influence of Educationists on higher education, whereas the author instead refers to “Educationalists.” They’re the same alleged people, however, and he cites as many of the same idiocies to them as I do.
Australian universities do not have the sports program infatuation of the US. I take some comfort in this: many have claimed that sportsball has been a major factor in the grotesque corruption of higher education in the US, and even I have conceded some of it. But Australia’s higher education is a joke, and they cannot in any way blame it on their nonexistent huge athletic programs. At best, athletics is sufficient, but not necessary for the corruption of higher education.
Instead, the author instead focuses on administrative reasons for the failure of higher education. Australian universities are state funded, and paid strictly by the “butts in seats” model. They are, of course, run by administrators who care nothing for education, and only want butts in seats (for growth). Students aren’t damned with lifetimes of debt for worthless degrees in Australia, not yet, but the taxpayer is still being looted with abandon.
Like I said, not that much different than what’s going on in the US.
Probably the most critical data in the book is he identifies where these administrators are coming from. While I claim it’s the legion of bogus online schools churning out Administration and Education degrees, the author advances the theory that:
“…university bureaucrats are all graduates of the Seagull School of Management. They fly in out of nowhere, start immediately to behave aggressively toward everyone around them, consume resources at a prodigious pace, shit everywhere and then fly off at short notice, leaving others to clean up their excrement.”
With my own eyes I’ve seen many administrators come in, plunder and exploit the school’s reputation as much as possible, then leave, so I’m certainly not inclined to argue.
I’ll look more at this book next time, for there are some other insights that I’ve not addressed before.