What the new managerialist pressures on supervision amount to is an attempt to standardise and downgrade the PhD. The immediate effects are to de-skill the supervisors, institute fake accountability, and make the students’ work more hasty and formulaic, in the name of faster ‘completions’, more control and greater output. It is much more difficult for someone to take the time and do the deep thinking and make mistakes, and work out new directions, and bring off a genuinely innovative project, under the current PhD regimen. I think this is, to be blunt, stupid policy, whose long-term effect is to undermine the quality of intellectual life in Australia. It is so stupid, its effect so predictable, that one wonders if this consequence is intended. Other attacks on universities suggest our government and corporate elite want a tamer, more predictable and more controllable intelligentsia.
Raewyn Connell, writing in the current issue of Australian Universities’ Review.