Now, matters are such that German universities, especially the small universities, are engaged in a most ridiculous competition for enrollments. The landlords of rooming houses in university cities celebrate the advent of the thousandth student by a festival, and they would love to celebrate Number Two Thousand by a torchlight procession. The interest in fees – and one should openly admit it – is affected by appointments in the neighboring fields that ‘draw crowds.’ And quite apart from this, the number of students enrolled is a test of qualification, which may be grasped in terms of numbers, whereas the qualification for scholarship is imponderable and, precisely with audacious innovators, often debatable – that is only natural. Almost everybody thus is affected by the suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of large enrollments. To say of a docent that he is a poor teacher is usually to pronounce an academic sentence of death, even if he is the foremost scholar in the world. And the question whether he is a good or a poor teacher is answered by the enrollments with which the students condescendingly honor him.
It is a fact that whether or not the students flock to a teacher is determined in large measure, larger than one would believe possible, by purely external things: temperament and even the inflection of his voice. After rather extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a deep distrust of courses that draw crowds, however unavoidable they may be. Democracy should be used only where it is in place. Scientific training, as we are held to practice it in accordance with the tradition of German universities, is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy, and we should not hide this from ourselves. To be sure, it is true that to present scientific problems in such a manner that an untutored but receptive mind can understand them and – what for us is alone decisive – can come to think about them independently is perhaps the most difficult pedagogical task of all. But whether this task is or is not realized is not decided by enrollment figures.
Weber, in 1918.
In M. Weber, H. Gerth, & C. W. Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber. New York: Oxford University Press: 133-134.
Some of you may have heard about the restructure of Humanities at the University of Otago. Owing to a decline in student numbers, the University is claiming the Division of Humanities has a budget shortage that must be balanced by cutting staff. A number of Departments within the Division are being targeted for staff redundancies by the end of the year. See here: https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/humanities-division-cuts-focus-revealed
The Tertiary Education Union is running a Heart Humanities campaign to support affected staff and to challenge the timeframe and scope of the cuts. Some context to this situation is the National Government’s funding of Maths and Science students at a higher rate than Humanities enrolments and the University’s budget priorities, which include spending millions on campus beautification projects and sponsoring rugby teams!
While we have strong support from within the University from staff and students, we also need public support, and in particular, support from external Universities and scholars. We have set up a petition to collate external support. Please sign & share: http://teu.ac.nz/2016/08/humanities-petition/
For those of you on twitter & Facebook, you can add the HUMANITIES twibbon to your profile picture at http://twibbon.com/support/humanities
If you’re a humanities graduate and/ or have participated in research or teaching events in the Division as a visiting scholar or student, please follow our Twitter account and Tweet your support @OtagoUniTEU
University Management cares deeply about the public reputation and brand of the University. They want to make these cuts quickly and quietly and we hope to make as much noise and share as much support for our colleagues as possible.
Presented by Tara Brabazon
Professor of Education and Head of School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University
2pm-4pm, Thursday 19 November – RSVP at http://bit.ly/1PB6n78
Seminar Room (S226), Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building (A20), level 2, University of Sydney (entry off Manning Road; map)