Why You Need to Wise Up

  • By OSNS

    Published on 18 September 2013

This Affects You Directly. More People are Talking About The Problematic State of Academia in Australia.  A three year degree is very expensive, and no guarantee of a job. Explore other alternatives such as ours that are decent and fairly priced where you can be sure you will be working with strong students. Make sure that you are educated in a place that values a multitude of opinions and listens to its teachers. Old School is just one of many new Independent Learning Providers that will help you more effectively with real learning outcomes, and save you alot of money. Do your homework. Be aware. Be a Linchpin not a Cog, and leave the factories for those stupid enough to swallow their propaganda. I know it's a cliche, but you are definitely worth It and you deserve it. Old School was created with the sincere belief that everyone deserves better. A new and improved, free learning environment. 

Have you noticed how there is increasingly more University advertising than ever? On Trams, Billboards, TV, FB. There are ads and slogans everywhere. That’s right. They want your dollars and are paying their advertising wizards  a fortune to convince you that you have no alternative but to spend it with them. It's a big business! Especially RMIT and Swinburne with their Hub and Factory. So wise up. Don’t be gullible.  Don’t buy it. 

Times Have Changed Watch The Value of Your Local Degree Diminish in the New World of Global Education

Times have changed, are changing fast and the old ways already superseded and dead. Watch this space. Massive Open Online Courses will rapidly change the dynamic of qualifications and credentials in 2013 with hundreds of courses being built globally every month, via I Tunes You (which is an excellent place to pick up skill and ideas), Ed Ex and there are many more. It is realistic to see that the qualifications that students receive from these courses via Berkley, MIT and Harvard has to dilute the value of equally impersonal mass degrees received from local Universities. Put simply, the value of a local degree will diminish in a level playing field that is now global. 

If you have completed your pre-tertiary schooling, you should think carefully about embarking on a university degree. It is not good enough to enroll simply because friends are enrolling and neither should parental pressure be the basis for enrollment. If you are very practically oriented you should consider becoming a first-rate tradesperson rather than a second rate University Graduate. If you are undecided, enrollment and deferral for 12 months or more is a very good option. Twelve months in the working world after school gives young people an invaluable perspective on themselves and their future. 

The UnCollege Movement is a social movement that believes going to University is not the only path to success and its site is full of resources to help you "hack" your own education. 

Why Do This? 

Because put quite simply, our Universities and Academia are in a mess. More main stream media outlets such as the ABC are fulfilling their responsibility to let us know with interviews such as this with the author of "Whackademia", Richard Hill. They need to, because you need to know that our Academia is corrupt,filthy and rotten to the core and you are paying for it. The ABC has raised our awareness of many injustices and corruptions within society, and I hope they can do the same to help improve Academia to bring a return to quality education that values our true teachers. (no lip service)

The following highly readable and well written three articles spell out far better than I ever could, that Universities are no longer the places of freethinking that they once were. 

Australian Universities a Portrait of Decline by Dr Donald Meyers

Whackademia. An Insiders Account of the Troubled University by Richard Hill

Stop Stealing Dreams. by Seth GodinC

Salaries of Most Vice Chancellors is One Million

Thanks to the Dawkins reforms of the eighties, (unlike the seventies) Universities are huge commercial corporations, run by greedy administrators called Vice Chancellors who are usually government placements. According to Meyers, the salary package of most VC's is circa a rather greedy One Million $AUD a year, and Meyers also states in his book that La Trobe’s VC even has his own helicopter ! (I really hope someone disproves this) 

Culture of Fear - Approximately Fifty Percent of Academics Take Stress Leave
The management system of most Universities in Australia is hierachical or “top down”. Which essentially means that anyone who dissents from the business decisions of administrators finds themselves redundant or conveniently overlooked for promotion. The stress of constantly guessing when it will be one's turn to be ousted is constant. This is why it is common for 50 percent of our academics to take  stress leave at some time during their career. Workloads of teaching and learning, assessment, and bureaucratic performance reviews leave no energy for research activities, making it impossible to upgrade their course knowledge and actually teach

Fear in many forms pervades our universities. Academics cannot speak up about what so many see as being very wrong. It is the bean counters with their massive advertising budgets and no student or subject knowledge that are run the education shows, being paid very well to feather their own nests and mess up the whole system. It looks so fabulous on the outside, yet, once you buy the product as a student, you are usually lumped in with hundreds of other students, who aren't there to learn, just to mess around. It doesn't matter, you might say, but it eats away at what you get for your investment. Lack of feedback, countless hours sitting around waiting for lecturers who don't turn up, and who can't remember your name, because they are so overwhelmed with an impossible deluge of admin duties related to students who should never have been admitted in the first place. I remember only too well the time I had to spend documenting appeal processes for international students who had appealed their low grades or fail grade, when they had never bothered to turn up, or submit project work in the first place.  Lecturers are overcome with fear what will befall them, that they will lose their tenure and be placed on the scrap heap so they remain silent and have no say in what is taught and how it is taught. Acquiescing to an absurd and costly university regime means that helping one another is out of the question. It is a lonely road. Students and quality of learning suffers, and conscientious students pay the price. 

How Many PVC's does it take? 

Business decisions drive Universities when those with absolutely no understanding of the realities of teaching and learning hold all of the power and make all the teaching decisions. A quick glance at some of the organizational charts of most Universities reveals positions like: PVC Engagement, PVC Flexible Delivery, PVC Academic Quality, PVC International relations, PVC Development, PVC Social Inclusion and so on. Then there are The Chancellery courtiers - known as Policy Advisors, Strategic Planners and the like. But how many Pro Vice (PVCs) does the system really need? Their huge advertising budgets ensure that our learning institutions maintain their powerful status when we continue to be brainwashed into buying their message that you need a qualification.   The sheer scale and opulence spent on buildings and pompous ceremonies is another form of mind control and the only other corporation that uses its real estate so effectively to create status and power is the vatican. 

It is disappointing that writers of many design blogs are buying the smoke and mirrors, and it is highly probable that other mainstream blogs will follow suit without questioning the rather sinister Orwellian goings on. It will be interesting to see what happens. Five years ago RMIT cried poor, told the public that it was in the red, and culled many of its finest academics and dissenting free thinkers via forced redundancies by the means of what they referred to as a "Business Decisions". Five short years later it is now spending millions on the seductive new Design Hub which is scamming many poor gullible students both local and international to come and spend their dollar with RMIT. 

This gilt facade cannot hide the fact that students will work with lecturers who never get to know their names and aspirations because:

  1. they are too bogged down in admin duties and 
  2. The student academic ratio is currently approximately 35 to 1. 
  3. Each academic is over stretched conducting remedial work for non-English speakers, and students without ability, who should be doing something else, and only attend University to be baby sat. 

Is Public Money Well Spent on a Research Centre?

The Hub is called a Research Centre, however there is little evidence to suggest that the millions spent on research has parallel outcomes to private sector research centres such as Silicon Valley. With this in mind, those currently entrenched at the top of the bureaucracy which serves them well and keeps them safe and secure, are unlikely to admit their ongoing failure to produce quality learning outcomes, and relinquish power willingly. Currently the main reason that large Universities produce successful students is actually due to their huge intake. It is merely a numbers game, when the best students study design at these big shops, naturally the outcomes are going to be world class. As the playing field levels out this will change.

What Happened? Wise People and Societies Value their Educators

The powerhouse of all places of learning is those on the Coal Face who work with and know Learners. They have the real knowledge and skills of which inspirational Teaching and Learning is built, which ensures the quality of the Courses. Like medicine, teaching is a caring profession and a true calling about which most educators care deeply. They are skilled in devising excellent curricula and delivery of content. Can using this valuable calling as fodder for a corrupt and bloated system sustain itself? According to the research of Richard Hill, over 60% of Academics (most of whom are women), do not have permanent tenure, struggle to make ends meet, and are told what to teach and given no say. If you have any friends who are academics you will know that most of of them are disenfranchised with their teaching jobs. They are not valued, and forced to teach content that is out dated and irrelevant. If they complain there is always someone else to take their place. This bullying tactic utilised by the management is the reason that most academics are too afraid to speak up and stick together. Precious few rebel over educational reform. While this is disappointing, I feel that open discussion is important and needs to be maintained. This is why it was pleasing to see that the three Heads of Studio Eindhoven’s Masters Course be reinstated after talking to the media and resigning. (Sadly this is very rare).

More common is the interesting  character metamorphosis of those in ambitious cliques when they rise through the ranks of power and prestige. By managing upwards and looking after those managers who help them (not students who they use to to do all the leg work on their research projects so that they can obtain bigger research ARC grants). It's sad to see those individuals who were once collegiate, relaxed and playful,  and who bravely stuck up for their colleagues become very serious and dress in black.  (this is the true story of one of our very powerful Melbourne Design Faculty Heads), Few Department Heads are liked or respected by their staff. And few University Design Departments are happy places because of the serious and pompous culture which doesn't lend itself to experimentation. 

So you may prefer to think carefully about supporting huge institutions that have little interest or knowledge in YOUR welfare, your career, the quality of your education, nor how it is delivered. Yet will happily rob you of a small fortune to pay their add men to build their brand to pay the exorbitant million dollar a year lifestyles of their Chancellors and Talking Heads as their academic staff quietly suffer their terrible lot. 

Take a gap year. Work in a creative agency for a short stint as an admin assistant just to see how the place works, like Positive Posters Nick Hallam did prior to his design studies. (This helped him to discover that he did not really want to be a designer, rather a design entrepreneur). Learn the software online via Lynda, or Udemay. Join AGDA and go to all of their sessions. Then take a year to do our one year Program. Network, meet people, read, ask challenging questions, go to AG Ideas. Travel overseas.