Posts Tagged ‘cash rules everything around me’

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.


There are no good academics in the EU.

Posted: December 8, 2014 in Academy
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Publish and perish at Imperial College London

Farewell to the University

Posted: September 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Make no mistake, we University of Sydney staff are now in the forefront of what will become an intensifying battle against corporatisation and privatisation. The government pays for students to be educated in Commonwealth Supported Places, but universities complain that the unit cost exceeds the money available. To corporate eyes, it represents that most valuable of commodities: a guaranteed revenue stream of public money, with a public-sector service provider sorely in need of competition.
Meanwhile, recent pronouncements from senior management have stripped away the pretence of unaffordability in respect of our modest pay claim – staff remuneration and working conditions are simply a lower priority than building up the University’s ‘capital stock’ of physical infrastructure, and (thereby) making the ‘balance sheet’ more attractive. The dispute is being run, from the management side, by a Senate committee of three ministerial appointees with ‘boiler-plate’ backgrounds from the right wing of the corporate sector – management accountancy, engineering and commodities.
As horizons shrink on the mining bonanza of recent years, Australian capital will be implicitly in search of new fields in which to garner high returns. Couple that with a doctrinaire right wing government, and one can imagine the rest. The ‘tabula rasa’ put forward by management at the outset of this dispute, as the proposed new Enterprise Agreement can be seen as an outrider, along with the move by managers at Curtin University to oblige academics to re-apply for their own jobs. That is why we have to hold the line.

It says here.

Posted: June 30, 2013 in Academy
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