Friday, December 5, 2008

Its now safe to go back onto a university campus

After receiving a grand total of 69 submissions, the Senate Committee established to investigate allegations of left-wing bias on Australia's university campuses found the claims were not substantiated. Established in the dying days of a Liberal-National party majority in the Senate, the Committee split along party lines.

What started as a campaign by the Young Liberals against left wing bias as ended with no recommendations, with the committee dismissing the evidence as anecdotal and unrepresentative.

But both Labor and Coalition senators expressed some concern over teaching quality.
In particular, the government members said the increasing numbers of casual and part-time tutors made it difficult to mentor inexperienced staff, and that the allegations of bias presented to it were more a function of poor quality teaching.

"There is evidence that in some very few cases an academic bias may be accentuated through poor teaching, and this should concern departmental heads and faculty deans," the report said.


Labor senator and committee chair Gavin Marshall mocked the Young Liberals submission that "outed" some left wing academics as having an "undergraduate tone" and said the committee had felt like it was being asked to play a part in a "university revue."

"In view of the relatively tiny numbers of submissions received from the hundreds of thousands of students who are said to be affected, there can be no basis for arguing that universities are under the control of the Left and that this is reflected in course content and teaching style," he said.

According to the Australian Liberal Student Federation, the small number of submissions reflects the fact that students are intimidated by the bias to the point where they are afraid to send a submission to a Senate Inquiry.

But the Young Liberals hit back. "What the government has failed to realise is that the very problem of academic bias stifles the will of students to protest about unprofessional conduct," said Byron Hodkinson, president of the Australian Liberal Students Federation said.

As Officer Barbrady would say on South Park, "Everybody move along now, there's nothing to see here."

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