(From a letter by Malcolm Saunders in Quadrant of March 2022)
How can academic freedom exist when over the past thirty years or so all of our forty or so universities have been swamped by wave after wave of ill-prepared poorly-motivated and simply unsuitable students whose lecturers and their casual and insecure markers are under enormous pressure to pass?
How can academics be free when the universities that employ them insist that their jobs depend on the income generated from full-fee paying foreign students, large numbers of whose English is just not up to doing any prose-based subject at tertiary level?
How can academic freedom prevail when middle managers systematically demand that lecturers only pursue research that “brings in” money and very often refuse to support – and might even sabotage- research that doesn’t?
How can such freedom exist in a Unified National System in which something like 60 percent of employees are administrative and ancillary staff, many of whose job it is to oversee and even micromanage lecturers’ teaching and research?
How can academic freedom survive in any Australian university when entire disciplines – even schools within faculties – have been made into conservative -free zones by selective appointments and more or less constant peer-group pressure to conform to the dictates of the politically correct?