Higher education

The A to Z of writing an impact case study

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/12/2018 - 10:00pm in

With submission to REF 2021 now less than two years away, university staff and academics are stepping up work to present their best examples of research impact in the form of compelling impact case studies. In thinking about how to approach writing these documents, Sally Brown has compiled this useful A to Z; from understanding your impact aim, all the […]

Postdocs trying to transition to non-academic careers should be offered more support by their supervisors and universities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 10:00pm in

Despite the position being billed as a stepping stone on the way to tenure-track academic employment, many postdocs, discouraged by their poor prospects, are questioning their career choices and instead looking to non-academic jobs as an alternative. However, as Chris Hayter and Marla A. Parker reveal, making this transition is not as easy as it might first appear. Why are […]

Now a symptom of that which it sought to critique? A critical reflection on the Accelerated Academy project

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/12/2018 - 10:00pm in

Following the fourth event in the series, Mark Carrigan and Filip Vostal consider the Accelerated Academy project as a whole and how useful and productive it remains; reflecting on its evolution, diversity of perspectives, and whether the concept’s success in becoming an “academic ear worm” has inadvertently brought about an unwelcome reductionism. Our recent conference in Prague was the fourth event in […]

Education…education…education

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/12/2018 - 2:24am in

Aerial view of students wearing mortar boards at a graduation ceremonyAnd in the news this week…

 

Education…education…education.

 

Last week the Public Accounts Committee published its findings on the sale of the student loan book.  The government was criticised for having sold yet another public asset for half its face value, but it explained that net government debt would fall as a result, enabling it to borrow more. The PAC, in its turn, said in its report that it had expected the Treasury to get the best possible deal on behalf of the taxpayer and achieve its aim of reducing the public sector net debt.  And then according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, in its Student Loans and Fiscal Illusions working paper published earlier this year, the sale was also a ‘perverse incentive’ to make it appear that the public finances had improved. It then went on to estimate that the government’s plans would, in addition, deprive the Treasury of billions in repayments over the lifetime of the loans thus making the country poorer in the long term.

The fiscal language of government and its institutions cited above is instructive, and demonstrates how government’s success or failure is being measured in household accounting terms rather than the effects of its spending policies on environmental, economic and social well-being of the nation.  A good deal for taxpayers, reducing public deficit and debt, depriving government of revenue, borrowing from the future and debt burden are all examples of recurrent tropes which are fed into the public arena daily by politicians, journalists and institutions. So, it is no surprise that people are led to believe that the state finances resemble their own household budgets and they judge a government by how much it reduces or increases the deficit or debt. The vocabulary of income, spending, borrowing and debt however does not apply to a government which issues its own currency and the term fiscal responsibility should be confined to measuring how such a government balances the economy by ensuring that money creation does not exceed the productive capacity of the nation.

 

And in more news on education

 

“Privatisation, marketisation, neo-liberalism and austerity are beams of the same sun.”

Steve Watson, Faculty of Education (Cambridge University).

 

While the government focuses on accounting gymnastics to balance its accounts, the dire state of higher education has been in the public spotlight this month as it was revealed that the universities watchdog was forced to give a struggling institution an injection of cash so that it could remain afloat. This followed news earlier this month that three universities were on the verge of bankruptcy and having to rely on bridging loans to keep going.  The financial uncertainty was said to be linked to falling numbers of 18 year olds applying to go to university, increased competition for students and more stringent immigration controls on foreign students who, in the absence of adequate government funding, bring much needed revenue to university coffers.  The University funding policy and funding report published in 2016 noted that given limited government funding and the fact that not all universities can borrow more over the long term, they will need to maintain and grow their student numbers, including those from outside the EU, to fund increased investment.  As governments fights over allowing foreign students to access higher education and adequate funding streams from government a train crash would seem inevitable.

How have we come to this pass? The process started in the 1990s with the first steps towards the marketisation of higher education.  New Labour followed the Tories lead and gave universities the right to charge tuition fees, thus changing the very basis upon which universities were funded. Private debt instead of government spending became a primary mechanism to finance higher education. As Steven Watson who lectures in the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University notes:

“The introduction of student loans, tuition fees and subsequent increases are all part of the commodification and privatisation of higher education. The Higher Education and Research Bill that was hurried through before the general election in 2017 further embeds the consumerization of higher education, with the creation of the Office for Students and providing opportunities to establish challenger institutions to increase competition in the sector.”

Universities have become businesses with a product to sell and students have become customers with choices. University management elites command huge salaries whilst lecturers increasingly face the prospect of insecure contracts and low pay. According to an analysis by UCU published in 2016 university teaching is now dominated by zero-hours contracts, temp agencies and other precarious work.  It also noted that the richest Russell Group institutions rely heavily on insecure academic workers.

Instead of higher education being about learning, exploration and creativity, it is increasingly becoming commodified; serving the interests of capital rather than the development of the individual for life and the benefit of society. Already, as Steve Watson notes, there is the potential for subjects that do not have a direct link to the world of work to disappear or be reconfigured for employability.  And while universities struggle for funding and try to cut costs, students face the prospect of a lifetime of education debt without even the certainty of finding a good, well paying job at the end of it.

The public is fed a daily diet of the benefits of choice, competition and private-sector efficiency and innovation, whether we are talking about education, the NHS, or the energy, rail and water sectors, when the reality is that it has more to do with accruing capital, than providing high quality public services. We are also fed the daily lie that the government has no other alternative as it has no money of its own and must seek to balance its accounts to prove its financial competence.

BUT the national economy is not one great big household, and a government which issues its own currency could, by making a political choice, spend on our public services tomorrow. Why would it not do so?  Education is an investment which is not just about economics. It gives people the skills they need for life, enables them to ask questions and seek solutions as well as confront the challenges of our times from social issues to environmental ones. Getting with monetary realities is a first step in challenging the neoliberal, market driven status quo.

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The post Education…education…education appeared first on The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies.

The evaluative inquiry: a new approach to research evaluation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 29/11/2018 - 10:00pm in

Contemporary research evaluation systems are often criticised for negative effects they can have on academic environments and even on knowledge production itself. Established in response to many of these criticisms, the evaluative inquiry is a new, less standardised approach to research assessment. Tjitske Holtrop outlines the four principles that give shape to the evaluative inquiry’s method: employing versatile methods; shifting […]

Book Review: Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire by Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, edited by Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinagamso Nkopo

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/11/2018 - 12:48am in

In Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire, editors and members of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinagamso Nkopo offer a collection that gives first-hand accounts of the Rhodes Must Fall protests, discusses the response from authorities and explores the practical lessons learned. Grounded in the immense learning of the Fallist movements, this anthology enriches the student movement literature and offer concrete paths forward in the quest to decolonise our institutions, writes Priyanka deSouza

Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonise the Racist Heart of Empire. Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, edited by Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinagamso Nkopo. Zed Books. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

Most mainstream media states that the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement was born on 9 March 2015 when Chumani Maxwele hurled excrement at a statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Through this action Maxwele brought attention to the fact that 21 years after the end of Apartheid, nothing had changed: UCT has assumed the same role that Rhodes did in continuously frustrating the hope of Black South Africans using the same technologies of exploitation.

However, Kealeboga Ramaru in her piece, ‘Black Feminist Reflections on the Rhodes Must Fall Movement at UCT’, in this new anthology, Rhodes Must Fall, traces a much longer intellectual history of protest against the suffocating structures of UCT, which was sustained and given life by the labour of Black feminists, Black womxn and queer people whose voices and claims to space were suppressed during RMF, often with violence. She traces the work done by Black Feminists and the Trans Collective during RMF in protesting and organising teaching and learning spaces to prevent imaginings of ‘decolonization’ from falling prey to the very hierarchical system that they were trying to dismantle. RMF sparked ‘Fallist’ movements in universities around the world that resonated with the experience of marginalisation of Black students at UCT.

Rhodes Must Fall: The Struggle to Decolonize The Racist Heart of the Empire, edited by movement leaders of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford (RMFO), Roseanne Chantiluke, Brian Kwoba and Athinagamso Nkopo, provides a much-needed intellectual space for movement leaders to give a first-hand account of the protests they organised, the response from authorities and importantly, and uniquely, practical lessons learned.

The book is divided into three parts. The first provides a detailed account of RMFO. The second consists of short accounts from sister movements in other universities: Harvard, Princeton, the University of Ghana, the School of Oriental and African Studies, Sussex, Queen Mary University and University College London. Several themes carry through the accounts of these movements: what does a decolonised university look like? Who should lead the decolonisation movement? And what strategies should movements employ to bring about change in their institution? The third section connects the intellectual space of the movements documented in the book with global decolonisation movements: such as the struggle to decolonise West Papua, the Palestinian struggle against the settler colonialism of the Israeli state, the call for reparations at the level of the nation state and at the university level and the work being done to decolonise curricula, even in subjects like mathematics.

Image Credit: Rhodes Must Fall Statue Removal, 2015 (Desmond Bowles CC BY SA 2.0)

It is perhaps unsurprising that this book was born from RMFO. Unlike at UCT, where the Rhodes statue was removed by the University, at Oxford it continues to stand tall over Oriel College after donors threatened to revoke 100 million pounds of funding if Oriel capitulated to RMFO demands. Public figures, including the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, Chris Patten and Louise Richardson, vilified and misrepresented the movement, accusing the students of trying to ‘erase history’. Individual students were viciously targeted by the mass media. Many of them received death threats. Almost no space was given to the fundamental demands of RMFO for an inclusive university and their demands for the right to critically question the geopolitics of the Eurocentric knowledge production system in which they were expected to study. This book seeks to change this dynamic.

The editors state in the Introduction that the attack on RMFO in the British press is the manifestation of British society’s staunch denial of its colonial past and its legacy. The first section starts by setting the record straight by laying out RMFO’s powerful founding statement. RMFO, just as in the accounts of other movements in this book, lifts up the work done before at Oxford that set the stage for RMFO to happen. By doing this, it cuts at the heart of the myth that RMFO was born in a vacuum by a small group of disgruntled students, but was rather a movement within a history of similar efforts to destabilise the hegemony of Whiteness that had marginalised the lived experiences of Black students for generations. Such accounts also help to illuminate the paucity of institutional support for Black students within the universities, and the difficulties faced by Black leaders of these organisations in serving their community. We see this time and time again in other sections of the book, such as in Ayo Olatunji’s account of being the only ‘Black Minority Ethnic Sabbatical Officer’ working in an English university.

The book goes on to tell the story of RMFO properly by including key speeches, letters of support, interviews with a range of RMFO activists, poems and spoken word that tell the hidden history of Black people in the city of the Dreaming Spires, and reveals how the very architecture of Oxford University was co-opted to paint a false story of the grandeur of the British Empire at the expense of the Black bodies on which it was built. One of the letters of support for RMFO included in the collection is by Michelle Codrington, a Black Unionist, teacher and a descendent of a family enslaved by Christopher Codrington, after whom the Codrington Library in All Souls College was named.

Histories like that of the Codrington Library serve to dislocate Oxford from the space of the ‘global economy’ and instead locate it in a real physical space, with a very material, bloody history. Chantiluke, in her chapter ‘British Values and Decolonial Resistance in the Classroom’ in the third section of this book, further reminds us that although Oxford University is near the top of the world rankings, parts of the town of Oxford are amongst some of the poorest in the UK, where 25 per cent of the children who are resident live below the poverty line. She asks the important questions: what does Oxford owe to the local community? Are universities supposed to serve the interests of the nation state, the global knowledge economy or the communities in which they are physically located?

The book doesn’t shy away from being ‘real’. The movement leaders of both RMFO, as well as other movements documented in the second section of the book, discuss the effects of studying in a space in which their knowledge systems and ability to interpret their own experiences are constantly challenged and called into question. A particularly moving chapter was the open letter from Dr Lwazi Lushaba to her boss, the Head of Department at UCT, who wrote about being made to feel like a child, having her decisions questioned, being prevented from speaking up at meetings by the older white men in her department.

One of the most compelling aspects of the book is the candid account of the internal politics of the movements in question. The first part on RMFO also outlines how the movement struggled with anti-Blackness and patriarchy within the movement. The students who participated in RMFO were from different parts of the world where ‘Blackness’ manifests itself differently. The ideological origins of the movement in RMF at UCT meant that the movement at Oxford was Black-founded and African-led. However, RMFO still had to grapple with the variety of claims and experiences of the activists involved, and the thorny question of who should lead the movement. This chapter provides a rare glimpse into the politics and pragmatics of practising solidarity, and serves as a cautionary tale for other movement-builders.

The book also takes up the question of decolonising Whiteness. It contains an interview with three White allies of RMFO detailing how they learned to listen and lend support without being at the centre of the movement, without being self-congratulatory. The question of whether it is possible for Whites to be allies runs through other sections and chapters of this book. Nkopo’s later account of being an activist in South Africa questions whether Whites can indeed be allies as they have less to lose, and therefore do not put themselves at risk in the same way as Black people. One of the things the book could have focused more on is the legacy of these movements within the institutions where they took place.

Finally, the book does more than just talk about the strategies adopted by various movements but also describes what a decolonised institution could look like. We see for some authors that decolonisation means White institutions recognising the bloody role they played in suppressing Black histories, and offering reparations. Some of the contributors (Sir Hilary McDonald Beckles, the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies) speak about the need for reparations at the level of the nation state. Dr Patricia Daley, one of the few Black Professors at Oxford, speaks about the reparations owed by the university to its Black students for the epistemic violence it has wrought. Other authors, such as Esther Stanford-Xosei, write about the form reparations should take.

In summary, the wonderful pieces in Rhodes Must Fall, grounded in the immense learning of the Fallist movements, enrich the student movement literature and offer concrete paths forward in the quest to decolonise our institutions. It connects these movements with politics on the scale of the nation state to help us see these institutions in context. Importantly, this book also sets a precedent for telling the stories of movements, and creates its own space to do so properly.

Priyanka deSouza is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Towards more consistent, transparent, and multi-purpose national bibliographic databases for research output

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/11/2018 - 10:00pm in

National bibliographic databases for research output collect metadata on universities’ scholarly publications, such as journal articles, monographs, and conference papers. As this sort of research information is increasingly used in assessments, funding allocation, and other academic reward structures, the value in developing comprehensive and reliable national databases becomes more and more clear. Linda Sīle, Raf Guns and Tim Engels outline […]

Political censorship in Australian research processes – towards authoritarianism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/11/2018 - 1:58pm in

Regular readers will know that I place great value in the disciplines we broadly describe as the Humanities. An understanding of knowledge that history, language, philosophy, geography, politics, sociology, anthropology, music, drama, classical studies and the like is essential if we are to advance societies and avoid the mindless descent into tribalism and authoritarianism. Last month, two things were revealed. First, the Federal Minister for Education vetoed successful grant applications for funding under the Australian Research Council processes, effectively politicising the process. He took exception to the topics. His decision was only revealed months later through interrogations during a Senate Estimates hearing. Second, an Australian university released a research report it had commissioned – The Value of the Humanities – which sought to articulate “the value of the Humanities to students thinking about their education and career options and to businesses faced with hiring choices”. It shows the immense value that teaching and research in the Humanities brings to employers, individuals and society in general. It makes the Federal minister look like a fool, although that was not its intent. A fool and one who is deeply insecure about allowing knowledge to proliferate. The latter is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime.

Some background blog posts I have written (among others) include:

1. I feel good knowing there are libraries full of books (October 29, 2010).

2. Education – a vehicle for class division (November 23, 2010).

3. Technocrats move over, we need to read some books (June 13, 2012).

4. The humanities is necessary but not sufficient for social transformation (December 18, 2012).

5. We need more artists and fewer entrepreneurs (January 10, 2013).

Research funding scandal

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is the national competitive funding agency which is funded by the Federal government and applications are rigourously peer-reviewed.

The success rate is low and the grants give high status on the recipients as a consequence. Universities love researchers who get these grants because apart from the individual status, the Federal government then adds further funding per dollar awarded.

I have long been a reviewer and have been systematically successful over my career in gaining these grants (mostly in the field of econometrics, spatial analysis and regional studies). The funding has allowed me to employ many people and keep my research centre – Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) – going since 1998.

The protocol is that while the Federal Minister of Education signs off on the successful grants, he/she never intervenes in the independent decision-making organised and administered by the ARC.

However, there have been known but rare cases where a Minister has vetoed grant applications.

The former conservative education minister Brendan Nelson vetoed humanities grants for the 2006 funding round. You can read about that scandal in this article – Research floored by full Nelson (November 16, 2005).

Around that time, the right-wing commentators were running the line that “the ARC had fallen prey to “Marxists”, “leftists” and “peek-in-your-pants researchers fixated on gender or race”.

The Federal minister bowed to the pressure and secretly vetoed several grants in Humanities. Some of them were studies of sexuality.

It was clearly politicising the process – vetting risque Humanities – out of the process.

Of course, the risque nature of some research in those disciplines is why they are so interesting and challenging. It is why they broaden our humanity and increase tolerance and understanding of difficult issues.

But like Hitler burnt the books that made him insecure, the conservatives were intent on sanitising which research gets funded in Australia.

This scandal led the next government (Labor) to introduce a protocol that required the Minister to make “a special declaration so the decision was public” (Source).

But the politicisation of our research funding process is back.

In the current round, a scandal has broken out because the conservative Federal Minister of Education has once again secretly vetoed successful ARC grant applications.

The Hansard for the Education and Employment Committee – Senate Estimates Hearing, October 25, 2018 – reveals that the Minister rejected 11 successful grant applications comprising more than $A4 million.

The CEO of the ARC, Professor Sue Thomas was grilled by the Federal Senate Committee and this is what transpired (discussion and revelations start on Page 126 of the Hansard):

1. Eleven grants (6 general Discovery, 3 Early Career and 2 Future Fellowships) valued at more than $A4 million, that had been deemed worthy of funding by the independent process, were rejected by the Minister.

2. Most were from the Humanities and their titles were:

  • Rioting and the Literary Archive ($A228,155) – Discovery
  • A History of Men’s Dress 1870-1970 ($A325,592) – Discovery
  • Beauty and Ugliness as Persuasive Tools in Changing China’s Gender Norms ($A161,774) – Discovery
  • Post-Orientalist Arts of the Strait of Gibraltar ($A222,936) – Discovery
  • Music Heritage and Cultural Justice in the Post-Industrial Legacy City ($A226,811) – Discovery
  • Greening Media Sport ($A259,720) – Discovery
  • Prints, metals and materials in global exchange ($A391,574) – Early Career
  • Legal secularism in Australia ($A330,466) – Early Career
  • Soviet cinema in Hollywood before the black list, 1917 to 1950 ($A335,788) – Early Career
  • The music of nature and the nature of music ($A764,744) – Future Fellowship
  • Writing the struggle for Sioux and US modernity ($A926,372) – Future Fellowship

3. The Discovery and Early Career projects were rejected in the November 2017 round and the Future Fellowships were rejected in the June 2018.

4. The Minister in question declined to give the reasons for the rejection and refused to follow the protocol previously agreed that he would make a public declaration as to why any successful grants were vetoed.

In fact, the Senate Committee asked the CEO: “The government has not chosen to announce these decisions? They’ve not been announced anywhere else?” Answer: “No.”

Next question: “They’ve been kept secret.” Answer: “They just haven’t been announced.”

5. The ARC told the Senate hearing that there was “nothing untoward” about these specific applications and that “they went through the normal processes of the ARC and were recommended by” the ARC for funding.

6. The Applicants were never notified that they had been successful but rejected at the Ministerial level.

The Labor Senator on the Committee called the Minister’s actions “political intervention”.

A conservative Senator claimed that he appreciated the Minister’s “careful stewardship of taxpayer dollars”.

It is also part of an overall decline in the number of grant recipients at a time the Federal government is claiming it is pushing an ideas revolution.

The Labor Senator the media that the Minister was (Source):

He’s pandering to rightwing extremism in an attempt to peddle ignorance … There is no case for this blatant political interference to appease the most reactionary elements of the Liberal and National party and the shock-jocks.

These are grants in arts, culture, music and history which somehow or other in his mind are not acceptable … what is his research expertise to justify interventions of that type?

Once the Minister’s decision was outed at the Senate Estimates process he channeled Donald Trump by Tweeting:

Which is a disgusting misuse of his authority.

For those not familiar with the process, these applications take months to prepare. We start the application process (that has to be submitted each March) around November or December.

People used to ask me why I didn’t take holidays in January (or ever) and the answer was I was always preparing these lengthy applications – sometimes upwards of 80 pages of documentation and case presentation.

When the Minister rejected the successful applications, the applicants were not informed that they had been successful but rejected at the political level.

For them, they would have just received the standard failure letter and felt the immense disappointment that accompanies that receipt.

That is why I believe the Minister’s actions were an abuse of his authority – in addition to the politicisation of the research process.

These decisions were taken before the Cabinet reshuffle.

The new conservative Federal Education Minister responded to the revelations and a written request from the Labor Committee Senator for an explanation, with this tripe:

Labor believes the government should just sign blank cheques because they don’t care about spending other people’s money.

We believe a good government respects hard-working taxpayers by doing due diligence about how their money is spent.”

Which is pitiful on moral, democratic and economic grounds.

The value of the humanities

As signalled in the Introduction, a new report was published in October 2018 which casts quite a different picture of the value of research and teaching in the Humanities.

It counters the popular narrative that you do an Arts degree to end up flipping burgers.

As my previous blog posts on this topic (see above) have indicated the bias within the Australian higher education system is towards the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas of teaching and research.

The Humanities (and social sciences) are being squeezed.

Further, even within Economics (a social science) the push is to narrow it down to Business studies.

A previous Dean told me several years ago that he didn’t want to see any social sciences within his ‘business faculty’. Idiot. I did a deal with the University soon after to leave that faculty and establish my research group as a separate organisational unit within the University under the aegis of ‘research services’. A first! It gave me independence as long as I kept earning research funds.

But this mindless push against the Humanities at all levels (political, university management) in favour of STEM and Business doesn’t accord with even the evidence that is used to justify the anti-Humanities bias.

The report from Deloitte-Access (DA), which is a management consultancy research group in Australia, makes it very clear that the Humanities deliver massive benefits to our societies.

They conclude that:

Humanities education and research has been a critical foundation of our society for centuries. Disciplines such as history, literature, and philosophy have shaped institutions and policy debates and attracted generations of students seeking to understand more about how societies function and change.

But while previous studies have focused on the broader benefits of Humanities to enriching our societies, enhancing the democratic process, making people happier, the DA Study also focuses on more narrow ‘economic’ benefits:

1. employers, through having a more productive, innovative and multidisciplinary workforce;

2. the broader community, through better informed citizens and a better understanding of our place in the world;

3. graduates, through increasing their lifetime earnings by increasing wages and job prospects; and

4. our society, through the contributions of Humanities research to improved social outcomes.

Some of the conclusions are worth repeating:

1. “Humanities degrees involve many technical skills including quantitative analysis skills, policy development, software use and foreign language skills.”

2. “Precisely because of their diversity, and not being common to all degrees, these skills can be difficult to neatly summarise but are nevertheless highly valued by employers.”

3. “In addition, transferrable skills … which have at their core the ability to solve complex problems by taking a flexible and adaptable approach, have become widely acknowledged as important in driving business success.”

4. These skills include “Communication, Teamwork, Problem-solving, Innovation and Emotional Judgement.” You won’t get much development in these areas doing a Business degree!

5. “a study of firms determined that differences in the level of transferrable skills of employees accounts for 3% of the total factor productivity gap between the best and worst performing firms.”

6. “Changes in the labour market are making these skills more important over time …”

7. Humanities “undergraduates and postgraduates tended to be more confident in their analytic and written communication skills relative to those in other fields of education”. This enhances their overall “employability” and over “40% of Humanities graduates work in market sector industries such as professional services”.

8. “the majority work in the non-market sectors of health care, education or public administration … This reflects the broader public benefit of the skills they have learned … Humanities graduates possessed the right mix of skills to help solve complex policy problems … The need to address such complex problems is expected to rise in the future.”

9. Humanities “education establishes greater levels of pro-social values.”

10. “Holding an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the Humanities is associated with a wage premium of approximately 11% and 30% … relative to those with a completed high school education”.

In terms of lifetime earnings, it is estimated that “an average individual with a Humanities undergraduate degree (not including law) earns approximately $200,000 more after tax than the typical individual with no post-school qualification)” which is below the estimates for graduates in other areas.

This is largely because “Individuals with Humanities qualifications tend to move into industries and occupations of employment that do not fully reward this increased skill level in the form of increased wages”. So the wage differentials are largely due to occupational and sectoral biases.

11. “The industries in which the majority of Humanities graduates work (Education and Training, Health Care and Social Assistance and Public Administration and Safety) have the the highest levels of job satisfaction across all Australian industries, approximately 86%.”

12. “Individuals with a tertiary qualification in the Humanities are, on average, 3.8% more likely to participate in the workforce.”

The Report provides detailed descriptions of the skills acquired in a Humanities course of study by discipline and the value of such skills in a changing labour market.

The jobs that will withstand automation include those where critical thinking and problem solving are paramount. These are core transferrable skills developed within the Humanities.

The trap that the Minister falls into when he tries to whip up public scorn of projects such as the study of “Post-Orientalist Arts of the Strait of Gibraltar” is that he focuses only on content rather than process and other aspects of the research activity.

As the DA Report shows:

Humanities Ph.D.s are not necessarily being hired for their content expertise, but for their process skills: the ability to do excellent research, to write, to make cogent arguments. These skills, it turns out, are in high demand

And, please don’t think that I judge the content of the aforementioned study to be of no value.

There is value just in the aesthetic of study. That might not be of value to business but it is of immense value to a civilisation.

Learning about beauty, complexity, cultural diversity, historical artifacts, and such are such broadening human achievements that they alone make the study worthwhile.

The DA Report also notes that:

A Humanities education allows individuals to develop a number of capabilities that foster greater levels of tolerance and trust, in both institutions and in others.

Again essential building blocks for social stability and a world of kindness.

These ‘collective’ characteristics are considered dangerous by neoliberals because they make it harder for them to justify policy structures and corporate behaviour that widens inequalities, pushes millions into unemployment and poverty, pays below poverty line wages and the like.

Neoliberals want us to believe that competition, a dog-eat-dog world is part of our DNA.

A humanities education, typically shows us that we are more collective than that. We favour equity and sharing.

Those sorts of values, however, threaten the neoliberal order.

So we get these right-wing idiots making out that studies like those rejected by the Federal Minister are just ‘left-wing’ plots to undermine our fierce, competitive spirit.

More broadly, the DA Report provides a long list of “social and economic impacts of Humanities research”, which they believe a “significant”.

Conclusion

The Humanities face an on-going battle in our universities to remain viable.

Bean counting university managers try to quantify everything in terms of ‘commercial’ prospects, which is not a metric that is particularly applicable to anything important.

And the neoliberals are continually trying to undermine the place of the Humanities because they have deep-seated suspicions of any activity that broadens our minds and allows us to learn about history etc.

So there is political interference, exemplified by the Minister’s vetoing of successful grant applications.

Studies such as the DA Report are useful antidotes to this venal tomfoolery.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

The growing, high-stakes audit culture within the academy has brought about a different kind of publishing crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 05/11/2018 - 10:00pm in

The spate of high-profile cases of fraudulent publications has revealed a widening replication, or outright deception, crisis in the social sciences. To Marc Spooner, researchers “cooking up” findings and the deliberate faking of science is a result of extreme pressures to publish, brought about by an increasingly pervasive audit culture within the academy. By now most readers will have heard […]

Join the team! The LSE Impact Blog is looking for a new editor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/10/2018 - 1:00am in

The LSE Impact Blog is currently recruiting for the position of Editor. This is a great opportunity to join our team and contribute to our research communication and knowledge exchange activities. We’re seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic individual, with experience working with academic writing and a keen interest in digital scholarship and academic impact. The LSE Impact Blog is an award-winning, highly […]

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