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August 1, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Vic promises to Change; Student body wary, have been hurt before

Students and staff at Victoria are rallying against proposed changes within university programmes which are argued to limit academic diversity and disregard university policy.

The university has released three “Change Proposals” to the Faculty of Education, the Philosophy Programme and the Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) Programme.

“Proposals for change are needed to ensure we meet the needs of students and our strategic direction. Like all organisations we also need to work within financial constraints,” says a University spokesperson.

Within the Faculty of Education, the proposal would reduce the number of staff teaching Technology Education from two members to one due to low student demand.

The Faculty and the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) argue that because staff numbers were also cut in 2010 further cuts could mean the programme cannot meet student demand.

“Cutting another staff member will have a major flow-on effect as it will cut the 100-level courses available to students,” says organiser for the TEU, Michael Gilchrist.

Changes are also planned within the PSIR Programme, as a result of the integration of the Centre for Strategic Studies into the programme.

The proposal suggests the disestablishment of four lectureships within International Relations. These lectureships will be replaced with Senior Lecturers with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, particularly security issues.

Staff in the programme believe this will undermine the programme and the narrower focus disregards student demand for a wide range of courses.
“The changes proposed will significantly narrow student choice as they propose to sack two lecturers who help provide the full range of courses for students,” says Gilchrist.
Changes in the Philosophy programme suggest a strong focus on non-western philosophy with one staff member made redundant.
The TEU is taking action against the proposed changes. It has written to the University as it believes the proposals breach the Education Act and the university’s Academic Board Statute because Faculties and the Academic Board have not been consulted.

“It would help if management complied with the Education Act and the University’s statute on Academic Board and consulted with Faculty and Academic Board on proposals for academic change,” says Gilchrist.

But the university argues the changes do not need the Academic Board’s approval.
“Academic Board is not an approving authority. It provides advice to the Vice-Chancellor and Council about academic matters, but not about the re-allocation of resources,” says a university spokesperson.

VUWSA is also concerned about the potential by-passing of the Academic Board on the issue.
“If TEU are correct and the said proposal was meant to go through Academic Board then we are very disappointed and the University should reconsider its process,” says VUWSA President Seamus Brady.

The University says concerned students should make submissions to be included in the decision-making process.
“Submissions from all parties are welcomed and all are considered by each decision panel,” a spokesperson says.But Gilchrist believes submissions will not change the outcome.

“The normal process of making submissions is usually pointless – the decision panel just tries to think of ways of rebutting any objections to the proposals they receive,” he says.

Consequently, the TEU are encouraging those opposed to the proposals to sign petition on their website and take part in a protest planned on Thursday at 1.15pm outside the Hunter Building.

“The theme for that protest will be ‘No voice, no choice’ – that is, no voice for academic staff and no choice for students,” says Gilchrist.
VUWSA is currently discussing the proposals with class representatives and will take action if it is what students want.

“VUWSA will be representing the voice of students in these programmes and looking to see what educational implications may flow from this,” says Brady.

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  1. welcome to the university of dystopia says:

    I am stunned by the silence and apathy. Welcome to the university of dystopia.

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