Education Officer’s Report – Week 3, Sem 1, 2016

The March 16 rally against the restructure is now a staff and student rally co–hosted by the National Tertiary Education Union. The restructure’s faculty amalgamations will see general staff lose their jobs, decreasing support for academics, leading to a decrease in our education quality. This is why we must fight back!

In the University’s latest paper on the new degree program ‘next steps’, Pip Pattison (the DVC, previously employed by Melbourne University) showcases the new Bachelor of Philosophy. Indeed it seems that some of SRCs biggest fears are coming true. Smaller schools and departments will struggle to provide the new 4000 level subjects required for a major under arrangements made by the new B/Phil. One high up academic in the school of Arts and Social Sciences claims this will lead to larger departments adopting the curriculums of smaller ones. It was also reported that the B.phil will also lead to curriculum and staff cuts as small departments, centres, and programs close, unable to provide the with the new degree program.

The B.phil threatens the current honours system. ‘Next steps’ proposes that B.phil students can be awarded honours if they graduate with a credit average and after the completion of a forth year project. One academic noted that this new honours system will not qualify students for entry in to PHD programs in the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). One footnote in the paper noted that the University plans to completely phase-out honours as a pathway towards a PHD moving students into masters programs. But the vast majority of masters’ placements are full fee paying, more generalized and two years in length.

Running two honours programs concurrently will place further hurt small departments already underfunded. Vertical degrees are still considered in the new degree structure. Vertical degrees include a generalized undergraduate degree followed by a deregulated postgraduate specialized degree. This is the University’s way of shifting a bigger cost onto to students, it will see us spend more time studying at University and see average student debt increase exponentially.

The Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies has also been dragged in to the USYD restructure with the Australian reporting that its independence could be lost through a merger with FASS.

The SRC will stand up for students and staff! In the first week of semester we hosted an open meeting at SCA. Here students moved a motion with consensus condemning plans to move SCA from Callan Park and merging with FASS. The Education Officers have been leafleting and lecture bashing classes to promote the March 16th rally, but there is no doubt that the campus needs to activate if we are to stop the restructure.  This Wednesday join students and staff marching to Michael Spence’s office and demand – NO STAFF CUTS – NO DEGREE CUTS – NO TO SCHOOL AND FACULTY MERGERS.

Dylan Griffiths

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