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Near irrelevance of university lectures

Lectures at my university almost by obligation need to be presented in Powerpoint format* and almost all are aurally recorded. In a few cases a video is taken and that distinction seems to be the fairly arbitrary dividing line used by administrators in classifying courses as being presented in “face-to-face” format or “online”. In fact […]

Sophie Mirabella

SM is to join the University of Melbourne as an instructor in politics – the practicalities of public policy. I’d like to write something smart-arsed and cutting about this appointment but I am lost for words. “Disgraceful” will do.

Powerful university people

Important administrative people in universities (Vice Chancellors, Deans and their lackeys) often don’t need to argue sensibly. Their authority gives every remark they make significance no matter how banal, wrong or tautological (“we will do what is appropriate” etc.). Their inability to connect with those over whom they rule suggests an aura of power, authority […]

University administrators

I commented at Core Economics on a post by Paul Frijters on the optimal number of university administrators. Paul’s contention was that we have too many. I don’t disagree with that but think that the question itself needs to be nuanced before it can be effectively posed.

It is more what administrators do in universities […]

University of Queensland, St Lucia

I am visiting UQ and attending the 2012 World Conference on Natural Resource Modeling to present a paper on desalination technology choices. UQ is a top international university in academic terms but I also want to say it is one of the most beautiful campuses I have seen anywhere. A tropical feel about its native […]

University academic sackings

There has been concern recently over the recent Australia-wide propensity to sack university academics who are not doing research. As a substantial part of an academic’s salary covers research activities my view is that if you cannot do research you should not be in the universities. That doesn’t mean I necessarily support the current sackings […]

George Mason “University”

John Mashey points me to this sordid tale at GMU. Some US universities, it seems, have become involved in the program of deceit fostered by climate denialists; the Koch brothers and their allies; the tobacco companies; thinktanks like Heartland, CEI, CATO, etc. They must teach courses in anti-science.


Sociological “research”?

Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes seem to live in a parallel universe. This to me is incredible – relating what are claimed to be “racist” attitudes to flying the Australian flag on your car. Please read the link.

Are they serious and therefore just simple-minded ratbags? Or is this a joke and they have got me? […]

University budget cuts with bureaucratic growth

There is currently gloom in many Australian universities because of the prospect of budget cuts and a claimed need* for financial stringency. In my experience Australian universities have a time-proven simple way of dealing with budgetary tightness – across the board cuts in expenditure applied to both profitable and loss-making university sectors or, as a […]

ERA rankings abolished

The totally ridiculous ARC rankings of academic journals into A*, A, B and C rankings has been dropped thank goodness. How about an apology from the nitwit academics and academic managers who pushed this stupid scheme as inevitable. Their stupidity wasted a lot of valuable thinking time. Now let’s abolish the current ARC the Stalinist […]

Thumbs down

The last word in academic excellence. An A********* publication. My only submission to it was rejected but I feel no pain at all.

HT J. P-T.

Administratium: a New Element

Investigators at a major research institution recently discovered the heaviest element known to science and have tentatively named it Administratium. Administratium has no protons or electrons, thus having an atomic number of 0. It has, however, 1 neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of […]

Paul Johnson – how many gongs?

It only seems like yesterday (November 2006) that I farewelled Michael Osborne as VC & President from LTU. Now I learn that his replacement, Paul Johnson, will resign In December 2011. He is going to UWA.

It took a year to secure Paul’s services so, on my count, his time at LTU will be a […]

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 rebellion

I agree substantially with a post at Catallaxy that condemns the current Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings. My own view is that the social sciences in Australia should respond positively to invitations to challenge these rankings but that the narrow-minded bigots who compile this nonsense are unlikely to listen.


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 […]

Email externalities

It costs nothing to send an email beyond the cost of composing it – the latter is low when a message is simply a copy of something received or simply something forwarded to everyone on a group email list. However receiving hundreds of emails each day on topics that have no relevance to those receiving […]

Compartmentalized thinking – god & universities

I didn’t get far yesterday with my claim to a postgraduate student that climate change delusionism is analogous to irrational belief in biblical creationism – both involved a rejection of mainstream science and reliance on emotional instincts. The student responded that he believed in the latter – that Adam’s dalliance with Eve created the human […]

Rationality in universities

The standards of rationality universities seek to instill in students – using evidence, thinking carefully about the logic of arguments and not basing arguments on ambiguous or undefined terms – should apply more broadly in life.