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Moralities of everyday life

I am doing the Professor Paul Bloom course “Moralities of Everyday Life” for credit from Coursera. This is an approach to ethics based on psychology. Paul is a very talented lecturer (and author) based at Yale. Weekly assignments are online and students are identified from their typing style and using photographic imaging. A 70% average […]

Attempts to downgrade economics education at La Trobe University

These are views of the Economic Society of Australia (Victorian Branch). My only qualification to these views is that they do not stress strongly enough that this attempted downgrade economics will be self-defeating from the viewpoint of the University’s own objectives of improving its financial viability and attracting higher ATAR students. It is difficult to […]

Some sound practical advice for university administrators

Ways to create and then cover up a massive blunder. Ignore expert advice and go with your gut feelings and prejudices. Push to one side anyone who opposes you. Make sure that everyone who participates in the blunder is well-compensated. Only admit at the very end that you got it catastrophically wrong. Use creative accounting […]

Amanda & the university “brats”

Amanda Vanstone makes two key points in her op-ed this morning:

(i) That university students free ride on the community by having most (about 60%) of the costs of their education paid for by taxpayers in general (including those who do not benefit from tertiary education). (ii) That these subsidies mainly go to the wealthier […]

Henry Ergas on universities

Henry Ergas has strolled through the corridors of a university and then claimed to understand it all – universities comprise lazy academics, incompetent, with no interest in teaching. It is the standard conservative, anti-academic view from someone employed (I believe) as an academic in a publicly-funded university.

But Henry, it isn’t only wealthy, Che […]

Free markets in higher education promote inequality

(Provisional thoughts)

There are two factors that determine participation in higher education: The level of fees charged for the service and the high school entry scores (ATARs) that determine eligibility to join particular programs – this is a price even if the price is funded by HECs. Education, at least in elite G8 universities, is […]

Privatising universities & finally killing them off

Non-academics Andrew Norton and David Kemp recommend privatisation of the university system with subsidies paid to private as well as government suppliers. Universities don’t only supply private goods so I am unclear of the motivation here though libertarian thrill seekers will get a jolt of blood through their arteries when they read this proposal. Of […]

Inept education policies

Spending more on schools is fine but achieving this by cutting university funding seems unwise. Academic activities in most universities are currently under huge budgetary pressure because of the vast investment of the universities in bureaucracy – teaching and education officers who know nothing, Deputy VCs, Deputy Deans, Assistant Deputies etc etc etc. The universities […]

The university as a terminal sewer

I had a nightmare-cum-fantasy yesterday evening. Writing it down might rid me of demons.

I can’t quite see the speaker at the centre of my horrors – he was shrouded in smog. A grey flannel suit, a fat cigar and a greasy visage from the previous night’s KFC, I think. He starts by paying […]

ERA fiasco

I have been a long term opponent of attempting to evaluate universities on the basis of subjective assessments of publication success. The ERA exercise is an expensive and largely unhelpful fiasco since the aggregate research findings are well known in advance. In a government-based university system where salaries are fairly equal the best academics will […]

Loathsome research bureaucracy

In the 30 years I have worked in the universities I have never taken any research direction advice from a university bureaucrat. I am an absolute contrarian in terms of modern university ‘research management’. I don’t criticise the people involved in administering such endeavors – they are for the most part responding to government decrees […]

Electricity privatisations opposed by Libs & incentive contracts in schools supported by Labor

My former student colleague NSW Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell finally rejects proposed electricity privatisations in his state and sides with the union thugs while Federal Labor’s Ear Wax Monster, Kevin Rudd, endorses earlier Liberal proposals to put schools of incentive contracts – money will be withheld if they do not provide decent academic outcomes – inviting […]

Choose economics as your business specialisation

I have never recommended that any other than the least academically able business students* even consider enrolling in undergraduate degrees such as dedicated marketing and human resource management. The vast bulk of students are far better off studying a discipline like economics or finance provided, again, that the latter provides a solid background in basic […]

Paul Mees exits the University of Melbourne

The decision of the University of Melbourne to demote Dr. Paul Mees after he publicly criticised a State Government Department report concerning the privatisation of transport in Victoria needs careful community scrutiny. The comments that Paul Mees made seem to be intemperate but perhaps should have been criticised on these grounds. There is no indication […]

Howard Government destroyed our youth with user pays

It will take years – possibly decades – for the wickedness of the Howard Government to loosen its grip on Australian society. And it is our young brightest minds, our ‘future’ who are paying the highest price.

In today’s Sunday Pravda we learn that the La Trobe University women’s football team had to forgo trips […]

Clueless kids in Australia & America

As I have remarked before it seems to be overwhelmingly the children of migrants – particularly Asian migrants – in Australia who attend private schools and participate in such things as music performances. Long-term residents place a lower emphasis on the value of education and the value of developing difficult-to-acquire skills such as playing the […]

White flighting and the case for rethinking the migration & refugee program

Laurie Ferguson, parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, says that because Australian families are ‘white flighting’ – withdrawing their kids from public schools and placing them in church or private schools to avoid unsought impacts migrant communities on the schools – that more needs to be done to avoid children from places like Africa, who had […]

A blog for introductory microeconomics students

For the first time in my teaching career I am teaching a first-year microeconomics unit. I thought I’d try to develop a blog to help maintain contact with students and to provide information. This is the result.

Students have access to online resources separate to this blog.

So far a number of students have approached […]

Gender inequality in education

Gary Becker examines the new gender inequality in US education – females do better that men at school and because they get married later and have fewer kids have become the majority gender (57%) in US college education. Men get lower grades and drop out more. The obvious question is why women do better at […]

Performance pay for teachers

Iain Hall has a post on the case for merit pay among teachers. Its seems 2/3 of teachers Australia-wide believe schools are having problems retaining staff and, of those, 70% believe that paying extra to those with additional qualifications and those who are most competent would stem the tide. The sample included about 1/3 of […]