Unfortunately Dean Clive Smallperson declined our invitation to contribute his vision to this blog (https://uwsdissenter.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/no-dams-in-the-school-of-business/). Last week, however, he published his plan for the School of Business. This involves discontinuing the Bachelor of Economics and sacking all the economists, a move UWS Dissenter thinks is ill advised at a moment when the university faces the biggest economic crisis of recent times.

While there has been a downturn in the demand for this degree there are some things that university managers should bear in mind before rushing to fold up this particular tent. Firstly, the prospective intake for 2013 (likely to be between fifty and sixty new students) when added to the continuing students would, in most other universities, be considered more than adequate to sustain a degree of this sort. Secondly, the decline in student numbers may well be temporary. The higher education landscape is particularly volatile at the moment and a shift government policy in the recruitment practices of other universities might well make the B.Ec more viable. But once discontinued it can’t easily be resurrected. Thirdly, it is an act of considerable intellectual vandalism to deprive the university of an economics department, and make redundant a group of colleagues, some of whom, like Professor Steve Keen, probably the university’s foremost public intellectual, have offered an alternative voice to the prevailing neo-liberal orthodoxy in Australia. Fourthly, and most fundamentally, there would be no need to do this at all were the university to apportion resources more rationally and fairly. UWS employs more administrative than academic staff, and what’s more much of the work loads of the latter group are given over to administration. While getting unambiguous data on this one is difficult, it is likely that the university spends three quarters of its budget administering itself. This profligate use of tax payers’ money – a morbidly obese bureaucracy continuing to gorge on the public purse – is nothing short of a scandal.

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