Our Un-Australian Universities By James Reed

     Here is a view that Australian universities are unAustralian, with academics not only being totalitarian, but only loyal to their new class, and increasingly globalist elite:

“The nation’s top universities are “not interested in promoting the study of things Australian” and are “failing in their responsibilities as national institutions”, leading academics and historians have warned. Greg Melleuish, a professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong, has told a parliamentary inquiry that universities are “primarily international in their loyalties” and are becoming “highly authoritarian”. Dr Melleuish’s view was supported on Friday by one of Australia’s leading historians, Stuart Macintyre, a former dean of the Faculty of Arts at Melbourne University, who told The Weekend Australian that universities should “pay some regard to their national responsibilities”. And Flinders University English professor Robert Phiddian said international scholarship was ranked more highly than local scholarship. The role played by the higher education sector in framing Australian identity and democracy will be examined by a Senate inquiry. The committee’s deputy chair, Amanda Stoker, warned that identity politics and postmodernism had “shamed” ordinary people into abandoning the political centre ground. She said there was merit to the argument that “academic disdain” for Australian culture and identity had contributed to minimising the study of Australian history and resulted in a diminished sense of national pride within the university sector.

In his submission to the legal and constitutional affairs references committee, Dr Melleuish said: “It is positively disadvantageous to have an Australian focus to one’s research, especially in the humanities and social sciences.
“Articles on Australian topics rarely make it into ‘top-level international journals’ and Australian journals are generally not highly ranked. There is little incentive for academics, especially in the humanities and social sciences, to pursue Australian research projects. “There is a strong argument to be made that Australian universities, funded by Australians, are failing in their responsibilities as national institutions.” Professor Macintyre said some fields of Australian research were being disadvantaged because of “silly” university policies. “Universities, partly because they are competing for international students, need to score well in international research rankings. And they are based primarily on journal citations on an international basis,” he said. “That has disadvantaged various fields of Australian research … (It) arises from the competitive nature of the system with deans who issue lists of journals you can and can’t publish in, which are starving these fields. And it’s particularly silly because most of the deans haven’t done research in decades. Professor Macintyre said it was a “mindless form of competition” that was disadvantaging the national interest. “We put an enormous amount of money into enabling Australians to go to university and a smaller amount into supporting research at universities,” he said. “We should expect them to pay some regard to their national responsibilities.”

Professor Phiddian agreed that universities’ focus on doing well in international rankings had resulted in Australian studies, and also New Zealand studies, being downgraded. “International scholarship is more highly ranked than local scholarship,” said Professor Phiddian, the founding director of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres. “It probably makes perfectly good sense in chemistry and mathematics. But in the arts and humanities, it generates a strange bias against Australian and New Zealand research.” He said Australia had university leaders “who think universities are machines for generating university rankings”. Maurice Newman, a former chancellor of Macquarie University, said opposition to the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation exemplified a major problem in Australian universities. “Western civilisation is something which is impossible to defend in a modern university,” Mr Newman said. “What seems to be being put to us is that we are part of an inferior culture. And it goes to the whole issue of how we came here and questions the legitimacy of our civilisation and our society and that’s what seems to be pretty much the broad (view) in universities these days.”

He said universities and the corporate world were “looking more to the global view than to national interests” and adopting theories on climate change and identity politics without critical assessment. “It’s a form of global indoctrination,” he said. Professor Melleuish, a political conservative who has specialised in political ideologies and systems, used his submission to sound the alarm on universities being increasingly motivated by rising in international rankings and attracting as many foreign students as possible. He said universities had shifted from being institutions with a “strong democratic flavour to ones that are run top down by individuals who see themselves as absolute rulers”. “Australian universities have increasingly become highly authoritarian institutions,” Professor Melleuish said. “There is clearly a connection between their desire to become international institutions and their increasing authoritarianism. They have moved away from being national institutions, devoted to the national interest and imbued with the Australian democratic spirit to being something quite different that is inimical to the democratic culture of Australia.”

     Good points made by all, but the real issue is that from their inception in medieval times, universities have been cosmopolitan in outlook. This once was harmless and even served the interest of society, but now is a pathology that is poisoning the body social. Like a disease, society must seek a cure for them, which I have discussed in many articles at this site. The right stuff, on Australian economic nationalism has come from industrialist Sanjeer Gupta, who loves the made in Australia R. M. Williams boots, and sees this as the way to go for a lost Australia that has gutted its manufacturing industries:

“We are not long into our conversation when the 48-year-old glances admiringly at his boots. “These are the best shoes in the world,” he says. His words spill out at such a rapid pace it’s as though his audio setting is jammed on x2. “I’m a huge R.M. Williams fan, I’ve got 11 pairs. I’d love to go to the factory in Adelaide; it’s on my bucket list… it would be an amazing company to own.” What he so admires about his RMs, apart from the comfort and the cut, is that they are still made in Australia. “It proves the possibilities,” he says. Gupta believes that, to their great peril, Britain and Australia have largely given up on manufacturing. He’s scornful of Australia’s business and political elite, who he reckons have had it far too comfy for far too long. Twenty-seven years of economic growth “are a blessing, but also a curse… there’s been a lack of evolution of the entrepreneur, of the risk-taker, the guy who really changes things. Australia has had it too easy. Change is bred from difficulty, not from comfort… dig and load and be comfortable; you’ve not been forced to add any value, to create anything.” Since he crashed onto the scene in 2017, Gupta has reinvigorated Australian steel-making and saved Whyalla from a wipeout. The old South Australian steelworks is in the midst of a billion-dollar rebuild that will almost double its capacity to 1.8 million tonnes. It will value-add by turning out finished steel products including railway tracks, building beams and pipes that will supply grand infrastructure projects such as the inland rail, Sydney’s WestConnex and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail. There are more plans – bigger, better – that leave some wondering whether his dreams can ever meet cold, hard business reality. Plans to build a next-generation steel mill to sit alongside the old one, churning out five to 10 million tonnes of steel a year, making it one of the world’s largest outside China. Plans to scope out a potential new steel recycling plant in Brisbane.”

     All I can saw is good for him, our pollies have simply abandoned this country and it will only be brave individuals who have a hope of winning it back.



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Thursday, 29 October 2020
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