The governing body of UWS, the Board of Trustees, yesterday agreed to pass the 2013 budget under which the course cuts and redundancies will be effected, despite the efforts of academic staff representative, George Morgan, to increase the funding to Schools to allow them to avert the cuts . A very large staff and student protest was held outside the meeting and some of the protestors were allowed to sit in on the board meeting. Here is one person’s account.

From ‘Hostile Takeover’:

I was one of the rank and file invited to attend the open part of yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting.  As there was no time allotted for us in the peanut gallery to speak, I’d like to transmit a few thoughts to the Board here if possible.

I don’t know the backgrounds of the board members, but it was obvious from the corporate tenor of their presentations (with only one exception) that academic interests are sorely underrepresented for the Board of Trustees of a University.  UWS is still a university, is it not?  If you were just dropped into this meeting with no context, you could be forgiven for assuming it was a meeting of venture capitalists deciding whether to invest their money in I.T. or in real estate.  All the Board was concerned with was what to do with their $ 40 million budget surplus and how to generate new streams of revenue.  There was no educational mission.  There was no desire to preserve actual intellectual life at UWS.  The Chancellor’s 2 main contributions were to propose a “red tape task force” and to propose that UWS jump into the “data mining” business.  The Vice-Chancellor was equally corporate in her intent.  On the subject of what to do with the surplus, she listed several options.  Again, I.T. spending was her top priority.  Her stated goal was to shepherd us into a fully online education age.  She wants to hire lots of “designers” to “retrain” academics on how to teach online.  She listed several other options, but I couldn’t hear them over the cries from the peanut gallery.    “What about spending it on actual teaching?” was shouted by many.  To my utter disbelief, the VC showed no signs this idea had ever occurred to her.
What I took away from this meeting was a profound sense that a “hostile takeover” has been perpetrated on the University of Western Sydney.  Despite the very best efforts of one board member, who put forward a motion to stop the budget cuts, and a powerful speech against the cuts delivered by one extremely persuasive student , it was clear that UWS is first and foremost a corporation now.  A “600 million dollar corporation” to quote the VC herself.  What they are spending all our money on and why is, of course, a mystery to all of us, but consider this my vote of no-confidence in the Board.  In my estimation, they lack any sense of  the purpose and value of academic life, and they have no business therefore steering any university in any direction.

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