The Australian | 12 November 2012
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, an 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:
Instead of increasing competition, the demand-driven system is destroying it.
In an email to staff , vice-chancellor Jan Reid has confirmed that falling student demand and an uncertain political climate are behind the cuts:
Eighty-three per cent of our income is from our students. This year, with the intense competition from other universities in the Sydney basin in the ‘uncapped’ environment and flat international student numbers, we received $14 million less than we planned for, and 2013 will be no less straitened. There are indications that the federal government could cut projected allocations for higher education in the budget, and this will flow on to all universities, further exacerbating the competition for undergraduate enrolments.