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The Australian press is giving raspberries to a plan by the University of Western Sydney to pretty much eliminate its economics department, which would result in Steve Keen and other instructors being fired. Keen is a well known and respected heterodox economist, so this move looks particularly misguided. This overview is from The Australian:
All economics study at the University of Western Sydney next year will be dumped except for one introductory course for first-year business students, and those enrolling in Islamic studies won’t be able to learn Arabic after cutbacks forced by a lack of demand.
UWS will also cut Spanish, Italian and financial planning, blaming falling demand for these subjects over the past four years. But critics say it’s an “act of academic vandalism” and “a knee-jerk reaction” to changing preferences among school-leavers. Steve Keen, a high-profile economist who is among more than 30 staff destined to lose their jobs, says the federal government’s demand-driven system, which allows universities to enrol as many students in a course as “qualify”, is to blame.
And this from ABC News:
MARK COLVIN: One of the few economists who predicted the global financial crisis may find himself out of a job. The University of Western Sydney is planning to abolish its bachelor of economics program, and get rid of most of the staff who currently teach it. And the cuts to its School of Business goes even deeper.
The ABC story is worth reading in full. What happened, in brief, is that UWS lowered its entry standards in response to a revision of government policies. The now lower caliber student body is apparently less interested in more rigorous topics. But that works to the disadvantage of students whose low test scores may not reflect their intellectual potential.
The firestorm of bad press has put UWS on the back foot. The university has abandoned its initial draconian decision and is now willing to keep an 8 unit Major in Economics in a Business Degree, down from the current 24 unit full Bachelor of Economics. The faculty is struggling to hang on to 12-16 units instead, which is enough for a Bachelor of Economics with no internal electives.
The meeting where the university’s governing body will make its decision is this coming Wednesday. E-mails would be really helpful, particularly from Australians, economists, or employees of companies that have operations in Australia and would be potential employers of UWS graduates. Here are the targets:
Thanks for your help!