A Call For Action: Australian Professoriates, Self-Organise!
Governments come and go but universities need a long-term vision.
The current employability and financial misery of the higher education sector is the result of the wrong belief that universities are just another source of income that can fuel the economy. In reality, universities are at the centre of a knowledge society today where they have an increasingly vital role to play.
Democracies are under threat worldwide and the majority of artificial intelligence (AI) seems already concentrated in the hands of private companies and autocratic rulers.
There is no better way to protect a democratic society against misinformation in social media, the lure of demagogy, non-democratic foreign influences and abuse of AI than to “vaccinate” all members of society through education. Good university education also lays the groundwork for the innovation that is required to deal with global problems such as climate change, poverty as well as the current and anticipated future pandemics to name a few.
Students and their academic teachers form the core of every university and are on a joint mission. Any stakeholder’s influence should depend on the amount of useful support they can provide to future-proofing that mission. University managers need to subscribe to academic values and a leader in a university setting should also be a moral leader which excludes demands for excessive personal remuneration.
There needs to be a revival of academic principles in Australia and beyond and the current commercialisation and associated degeneration of the higher education sector which represents a high risk for Australian society must stop.
We are calling on the professoriate at every Australian university to self-organise, now. Already at 11 universities, the professoriate has formed an AAUP Chapter, more are in preparation and with a majority of 20 or more working together it will be easier to approach government.
The professoriates can provide the broad academic leadership to their institution that needs to guide the decisions on what elements of their university should survive. Also, which parts are dispensable. Such decisions cannot be left to managers or government as the sovereignty over academic decisions is the inalienable right and duty of a university’s professoriate.
Please pass this on to your local professoriate.