34 Replies to “Fuck STEM and Fuck Dan Fucking Tehan”

  1. I have proposed elsewhere a new Bachelor of Arts (BA). A standard BA contains 24 one-semester subjects governed by many rules. In this new BA, the only requirement will be that the student passes 24 units to graduate. Can’t say that I have convinced many people of the merits of this proposal.

  2. Just changing tack a bit (whilst not disagreeing with the premise indicated by the title), why are fees for English and Languages decreasing but other “arts” increasing? This seems to be a real singling-out of one part of one faculty.

    Mathematics and Agriculture being singled out for a massive reduction also seems a bit… well, I wonder if the second would have happened if the Libs didn’t rely on the Nats to form government.

    1. The motherfuckers regard English and languages as training. And you answered the agriculture bit yourself: it’s just pandering to the fucking Nationals.

      1. Hmm… training… OK, now it all makes sense.

        Because universities are not places of education, but places of job training (sarcasm intended to be heavy)

        1. If you have to pay a large sum of money for a university course, it is reasonable to ask if this money is well spent, and one criterion for making the decision is whether it is likely to lead to a job. So, yes, the main function of universities is training people for jobs.

          Lately I have been reading about the 18th century philosopher David Hume. When he was young, his family encouraged him (perhaps strongly encouraged him) to take up law. The law was a regarded as a sound profession for which he was well suited. He tried it, hated it, and went on to become a philosopher whose works are widely studied today, three centuries later. Hume’s family and Hume himself would never have dreamt that this would happen.

          Deciding what to do with the rest of your life is not easy at any age. A friend once told me that many adults are stuck in jobs chosen for them by adolescents.

          1. Not sure I agree with you on this one Terry. Mainly because there are a number of degrees (such as Arts with majors in Philosophy or History) that do not lead to employment themselves but lead to other qualifications (such as Bachelor of Laws which is very rarely done as a straight undergraduate degree, often coupled with another degree or done after finishing one) that then lead directly to employment.

            My attitude (totally without evidence, so completely open to rebuttal) is that to survive in the world of work one needs good education and good training. My education was a Science degree with a pure Mathematics major and my training was a Teaching degree. I did the first degree without any intention of working as a mathematician, so it was in no way making me job ready.

            But perhaps I am the exception rather than the rule.

            In a not-quite-related direction, I think it is only a good thing if you have a population of highly educated citizens, regardless of whether their education makes them job-ready or not as education has benefits to society, not just the economy.

            I also appreciate that these views may increasingly be in the minority.

            1. Yep. Terry’s argument is that because the world is currently run by neoliberal motherfuckers, the world reflects the desires of neoliberal motherfuckers.

              1. Broadly speaking, Australians think of university education in terms of leading to employment. You go to school, then go to TAFE/university, then get a job.

                In my experience, most students think this way, their parents think this way, career advisors think this way, and therefore universities pander to this way of thinking, as do departments in universities – just look at their brochures. So I’d say that the politicians are following the people rather than the other way around.

                I do, from time to time, meet students with particular academic ambitions, who are not concerned about future employment. They just know what they want to learn about. I have also met many students who don’t want to be in school in the first place.

                I have not seen evidence of senior students at school thinking in terms of the cost of university education. This is why I set the following problem for my students.

                “Estimate the cost of going to university. (Choose your preferred course, and your preferred university; include the cost of living and the cost of tuition even if you pay it off later – and that brings in the interest that has to be paid on the loan.)” (Mills, 2020, p. 10, problem 82)

                Reference
                Mills, T.M. (2020). “Problem solving for mathematics classes in Australian high-schools”. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Terence_Mills2

                1. Terry, let’s assume for the sake of very strained argument that you’re not writing bullshit. How does any of this justify Dan Fucking Tehan’s hiking fees on Arts degrees?

                  Secondly, you are writing bullshit. “Career advisors think this way”? Well, knock me over with a fucking feather. “Universities think this way”? Bullshit. Universities don’t give a flying fuck about students except to keep them happy enough to keep paying money. University administrations have all the ethics of street-corner drug pushers.

                  And yes, people have to eat, many students rightly will think narrowly of future job prospects. And, yes, parents will have similar concerns. But that doesn’t mean that society hasn’t been perverted by Thatcheresque fuckers and Murdoch scum and TV lobotomisation to the point of killing the very notion of society and common good. That doesn’t mean people aren’t conned and cajoled and frightened into purported self-interest. The Power of Nightmares.

                  You want Australia to be America? Then fuck you. My parents left America in 1961 because they realised the intrinsic evil of a fear-driven and money-obsessed country, and I left America in 1991 for the same reason. I loathe the Americanisation of Australia, and I’m disgusted by your trivialisation of it.

                  1. Actually I did not say that “Universities think this way”. I deliberately said “universities pander to this way of thinking”. Universities want students, and a large proportion of students want to study programs that lead to jobs. So, the emphasis in universities is now on vocationally oriented programs.

                    Students are “customers”, degree programs are “products”. I kid you not!

                    I am not saying that I endorse these trends; I just observe.

                    In fact, in many ways, attitudes in universities have swung through 180 degrees.

                    My father was an academic lawyer who specialised in commercial law – laws to do with strikes, worker’s compensation, and industrial laws generally. Many academic lawyers looked down on this sort of grubby work. Real lawyers work on constitutional law, jurisprudence and the like.

                    Likewise, at the university where I was an undergraduate, pure mathematics and physics boomed, and computer science hardly existed as a discipline.

                    Generating income through grants was rare. I recall Manning Clark wrote when he was at University of Melbourne, he received a grant that got him a train fare to Sydney so that he could spend time in the Mitchell Library.

                    I can recommend two enjoyable novels both set in a modern university: “Babel” by Barry Maitland, and “Honk if you are Jesus” by Peter Goldsworthy.

                    1. Terry, you’re doing a lot more and a lot less than not endorsing. And, you’re trolling.

  3. Terry, I agree (in part) with the data you are presenting. I just can’t bring myself to accept the conclusions though as there seem to be too many moving parts/assumptions/hidden premises in the entire argument (from both sides)

    I’m less comfortable with the argument that universities are doing this because it is what people want. This seems to be too much of an economic argument and too little of a social one.

    Again though, I accept my views may well be in the (possibly very small) minority.

    On a side note, the cost of university is a problem that becomes more interesting each year when you look at the minimum wage, opportunity cost and employment rates for under 25s. There is a fair whack of probability in this problem at a not-too-deep level as well which just adds to my conclusion that there is no truly correct solution.

  4. Hi,

    I was lucky enough to attend tertiary education at a time when Governments
    still subsidized the academic costs of the degree for all students.

    So my decision was an easy one made purely on interest and a low hurdle entrance criterion.

    Unfortunately current potential students have a significant financial HECS debt to consider as well.

    To me it seems unfortunate that a Latin,Greek and Philosophy student for example should have a smaller percentage subsidy
    than a STEM student merely because the Government doesn’t see the direct need in short term job vacancies.

    In my opinion degrees should encourage critical thinking as well as passing a test of knowledge.

    Steve R

    1. Thanks, Steve. It’s much worse than you think. The whole idea of a university as a community of scholars is dead. And, almost no one gives a fuck.

    1. I’m also no fan of Tim Soutphommasane, and the article states nothing but the obvious, but a good article nonetheless.

      1. Thanks for the explanation.

        Anyway, my main point is that the current situation in higher education is the point that we have reached after gradual changes over several decades.

        While walking the dog tonight, I recalled my father saying that it was a bad idea to hand universities over to the federal government because federal governments are much more like to interfere with the running of universities than state governments.

        1. That wasn’t your point. Look at your first paragraph on your first post. Tell me the point of that paragraph.

  5. Do you mean the paragraph where I wrote “the main function of universities is training people for jobs”?

    It was written in response to Red Five. I am making the point that this is the view of many (perhaps most) students, parents, and the universities themselves. So it is no surprise that many politicians think this way.

    And what is particularly surprising is that most politicians have been to university – and this is the impression that they have.

    1. Jesus. You may have thought you were making that point, but it’s not what you wrote. And, what you wrote on politicians is self-contradictory and ridiculous; kind of admirable in its way to achieve both.

    2. So, to clarify, you (Terry) believe that students, parents and (perhaps) universities believe that the purpose of a university is to take a school leaver and turn them into a potential employee?

      Not saying you are right or wrong, just checking that this is indeed your claim/belief.

      1. Red Five: Yes, broadly speaking, that is my impression. I am not saying that this is the view of all students, parents and universities. But this is the dominant view, and it has been developing for a long time.

  6. I thought you might have something to say about this and I wasn’t disappointed!

    Just thought I’d add this that I read on Twitter: https://twitter.com/garethjbryant/status/1273859804142768128
    that if you look closer at the changes, the picture is kind of confusing.

    For instance, the amount universities will get per student in maths has actually decreased, so while students might be encouraged to study maths, universities will be discouraged from enrolling them.

    1. The data that I have seen indicate that, in the past, universities have been receiving too much for mathematics subjects. The total amount they have been receiving per student in mathematics has been much more than the cost per student of running the subjects. Under the new model, the total amount that they will receive per student in mathematics will be approximately equal to the cost per student of teaching the subjects, but the student will pay less. At least that is how I have interpreted the data.

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