A brief angry word on Auckland Uni gutting 50% of their Arts courses: UPDATE



I am shocked, appalled and horrified all at the same time . Why the fuck is Auckland University gutting its arts courses by 50% in favor of bloody tourism? Arts students attempting to enroll yesterday  were confronted with over half their courses being dumped.

Is this the educated future leaders of NZ? Dumbed down cogs in a never ending machine of banality and authority servitude that are not taught to question the structures they work for?

Course after course are being butchered at Auckland University and crucified as National’s  pressure to cull education critiquing the economic hegemonic structure that benefits National’s ideological blindness becomes reality. History, sociology, politics – anything critical of National’s hard right agenda is being culled.

This has all the ethical charm of book burning.

You can’t study neoliberalism in sociology but you can study the sociology of tourism??? WTF National?

UPDATE: This from the University of Auckland

“The Faculty of Arts is committed to offering a comprehensive curriculum in the humanities, social sciences and languages. However, that does not mean that every course can, or should be, taught in every academic year. In order to achieve our academic goals and meet student needs, it is normal for most subjects to have a portfolio of courses of which only some will be offered in any one academic year. Course availability is governed by several factors, including the interests of particular cohorts of students, staff research needs, the overall academic needs of a subject and Faculty and University administrative needs. Course availability therefore needs to operate on a three-to-four year cycle. The courses we offer in a given year also need to include courses for visiting staff, new staff and ‘trial’ courses. It is normal, and academically robust, to have around 50% of the total courses in some subjects not being offered in any one year. The level of courses available for 2014 follows the same pattern as in previous years.”

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    • Except that no Arts courses are actuallly being cut. The way to dumb yourself down is to not do your research or think critically.

      • It sounds as if you know much more about this issue than I do so I must bow to your superior knowledge on this subject. Unfortunately many of us lay people rely on the media to provide us with accurate information which isn’t always forthcoming. Fox news deliberately distort the news for their own nefarious ends, one hopes Martyn Bradbury was simply mistaken and must be commended for publishing the update.

  1. Unitec in Mt Albert has just made 47 lecturers/staff redundant in the Design Dept….can’t pay their way, or no money to support the dept ?
    Sounds a similar Govt strategy to gut the creative sector.
    To S Joyce..a plum.

  2. The most telling one:

    SOCIOL 712 After Neoliberalism? Not offered in 2014

    Recon the government got really upset with the thought that people would actually be studying and researching what to do when National's failed policies are thrown out?

    • It is not being cut, for crying out loud. Not every course is offered every year. That’s the way it’s been for the last twenty years, at least. This situation is nothing new.

    • The 7 in 712 probably still means that this is a postgraduate course. Many of these are only offered every second year.

  3. Looks like the death of academic freedom. Also suggests that a lot of academics have been made redundant, in favour of hiring lecturers in STEM subjects. How ironic, coming as it does after the belated realisation on the part of providers of courses such as engineering that their students need to study more broadly than just in their discipline. So tourism it is, eh? Good god almighty: the barbarians are surely at the gates!

  4. Yes they’ve had to cut a lot of papers and I know the sociology department has had major financial cutbacks, but using their postgrad papers as an example was actually pretty flawed – they’ve always had heaps of those courses not offered because they don’t clean out the list when lecturers leave. David Craig taught the Neoliberalism paper and he left something like three years ago so I don’t believe it’s been taught since.

    Better to show something like the Women’s Study papers (only the 100 paper is available)?

    On a similar note I know for some papers it is because the lecturer for that paper is on sabbatical and they don’t have a replacement to teach it

    • Across the whole Faculty of Arts, both undergrad and postgrad, there is no significant trend of courses being cut anyway.

  5. It’s important to note that National wants to reduce the members of Boards of Govenors of universities from around 20 to around 8, which is likely to reduce teacher and student representation and strengthen the corporate model.

  6. Perhaps it is demand driven… just maybe students are realising that taking out massive loans to study these things that offer no real chance of employment using that knowledge is not a wise investment?

    If people think that spending ~$40K to gain that knowledge is a good investment, then all power to them.

    Academic freedom is one thing, but people sign up for education to gain employment, and I haven’t seen too many job advertisements for art critics lately…

    • but people sign up for education to gain employment

      Only if they’re really, really, boring.

      The proper way that education should be used is that people study it because it interests them and then they try to make work out of it. Do it this way and we don’t need capitalists.

      • My mistake, I forgot how trendy it is to have a massive student debt for a useless qualification and working at BK at age 27 and living with mum after spending years at uni. Interesting papers though!

        • Sorry Woodburner but thats just not how it works.
          I have a liberal arts degree (and post grad diploma) with a whole bunch of interesting papers in subjects with no direct application to my well paid job in the private sector where my ability to think critically and engage with complex multifaceted problems is valued.
          Conversely I’ve come across far too many commerce or computer science majors with a major deficit of common sense and an inability to articulate themselves convincingly to a varied business audience. It may just be a reflection of the personalities who choose to study these different subjects, but give me the arts grad any day!
          A general education at university is about more than vocational training its about developing the general level of your thinking, writing and speaking skills beyond a high school level…

  7. Boohoo. It’s not actually 50% of Arts courses. Though, maybe you should take the hint and get a real degree!!

    • These outdated institutions are ready to go the way of the dinosaur. I did the last part of a arts diploma by correspondence through the Learning Connexion In Wellington, no other art school that I know of actually offers this option. Also when I asked a few of our ‘elite’ art schools why they don’t have this option I was told that it is because the painting teacher wants to hang over your shoulder directing your work. While many art teachers are good at teaching, many don’t actively exhibit or paint regularly enough to be good artists. It is purely an academic exercise for them rather than the creative insights discovered through inspired practise. I want to paint work that is collected and enjoyed, which is what happened after finishing the correspondence course. I have sold paintings for over 7K each all over the world. Also recently one of my paintings made into the top ten in an international art competition on saatchionline.com. N.Z competitions and the current art scene are both totally corrupted and full of nepotism. Arrogantly, most art schools discourage people from developing their own artistic style. Rather they instruct their students on how to create a nihilistic brand of art that isn’t changing with the times. Institutions don’t teach creativity they are paid ‘lecturers’ with old brick in the wall thinking, keeping everyones minds well and truly shut. Hence maintaining the status quo.

    • A ‘real degree’ in what? Economics? Have to be kidding! As the dominant thinking in economics models a static system with one producer, one product, one consumer, and one bank, forever unchanging – far removed in other words from the dynamic real world – the whole discipline needs to be thrown out and begun again from new.

      Or are you talking degrees in Business Studies? How much of a Business Study degree comprises Neo-Classical economics, prey, tell me? How much was it 20 years ago. Yes, Business Studies is a ‘real degree’. But how many Business Studies graduates does this country really need? We have already been through over-supplies of Laws graduates, Accounting graduates and B.Com graduates.

      As for teaching graduates, have you noticed that not one government of this country – EVER!! – has seen in falling school roles the opportunity to decease pupil-teacher ratios in the classroom?

      Who wants to study the sciences these days? National has sort of recognised the need for more in the science fields, including mathematics. But when every government since the Roger Douglas debacle has gutted publicly owned research facilities, since when ‘pure research’ is perceived (stupidly) as a waste of time and money, and careers for scientists barely exist at all for graduates and doctorates, then you ain’t gonna get bowled over in the mad rush to enrol, are you?

  8. Hey, you guys know that there are actually no significant changes in number of arts courses being offered for 2014? Please fact check before you post. I agree that arts are generally underfunded (I’m an arts student myself), but to say that the University of Auckland is culling arts is empirically untrue. The Facebook page is overblown scaremongering.

  9. Thanks Bomber for thus article. I (All I’s DLANZ sanctioned), am disappointed but not surprised as Disabled have long expressed concern about the gradual slide from Sociology that is supposed to provide a visionary concept. Not any papers concerning disability or Waitangi concepts either.

    Both Disabled and Maori have been critical of government policies that are becoming too individualistic and pathological. The Sale of Assets legislation and other economic aims, that are drivers fir poverty, cannot be addressed because of a micro-middle of the road type of study that exclude social issues of colonization and marginalization that go all the way back to Waitangi and UN Conventions for Disabled and Indigenous
    Policies of kicking Housing NZ’s defenseless tenants out of their homes in Glenn Innes; charges of Eugenics at Ministry of Health (Savings Downs is just one longstanding example), and the report that over 270 000 kids live in poverty (Children Advisory Panel 2012), only reinforce that pseudo genocide on society’s most vulnerable, is running at a rapid pace because of a ‘laissez faire-we don’t care” attitude.
    A truly rigorous analysis of such circumstances requires that these Social Advisors MUST include Sociology as a lead, as this is where the study of organizational structures are, and can be integrated into a cohesive, theoretical and practical framework. Its intention is to provide a counter-weight or litmus test to ensure that both ends of society’s continuum (Cabinet to kitchen tables) are secure and included in policy process. Otherwise Aotearoa, without consideration of Treaty of Waitangi and NZ Disability doctrines; could see a Waka without its rudder, running around in circles.

  10. When Peter Davis took over 2004…5, the sociology became more social research for statistics and not for change. We identified too many that moving away from rigorous social analysis would render modern-day sociology useless, and while I agree that it is to National’s benefit, this situation has culminated over at least 10 years probably about the time of V/C McCutcheon arrived in about 2001,

    As we said then, there are serious doubts if Waitangi and NZ Disability Strategy 2001 (Disabled’s Treaty) doctrines concerning academic research is ignored. When posing questions of cultural and social coherence in the absence of any serious effort to connect the themes of individualism and moral order with an analysis of social oppression and movements of resistance, little value is produced.
    Tell PHOEBE call TRACEY….Sociology and Film and Media check our “Oh Waitangi….Save Waitangi” on AMC http://www.indymedia.org.nz/articles/1489

    Keep smiling….dougie

  11. Well done my old alumnus, the University of Auckland. Its Administration deserves the George W. Bush Prize for etymological surgery. That august academy has discovered new meanings for ‘robustness’ and ‘normality’, as applied to the education it allegedly offers, with which I doubt any of us were previously familiar. Has anyone noticed, by the way, the gradual slide of New Zealand Universities down the world rankings. Auckland still makes into the top 200 in the world, but only barely, lately, and not for much longer.

    As for Political Party interference in education (by blackmail, I suspect) – there has been far too much of that in recent years, and the National Party have not been the only ones guilty of dabbling in matters that don’t concern them, and about which they have but small understanding. Limiting education to the narrow focus of ‘commercial benefit’, comes – has come – at a cost so enormous that I quite fail to comprehend how any government could have overlooked it. But successive governments in this country seem to think exporting jobs, talent and expertise is good for the New Zealand economy.

    I have said before, haven’t I, that the loonies long ago took over the asylum that this country has become.

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