Earlier this year I was informed by a lecturer that the Honours program at Macquarie University, where I attend as an undergraduate, will be canned by 2013, adopting the ‘‘Bologna model’’ . In its stead there will be a two-year Master research degree. As a hopeful Honours candidate, this means I will be one of the last students at Macquarie to undergo this program in 2012 before it is eliminated completely. According to the union reps, this is due to institutional competitiveness, given that the Honours program is not widely recognised overseas. It is not only students who will be affected by this scheme, but staff as well, whose workloads will likely double. According to another one my lecturers, this information was not formally announced, and instead he was left to read it in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Honours to go at Macquarie
November 3, 2011
MACQUARIE University is planning to become the first Sydney university to adopt the controversial ‘‘Bologna model’’ and restructure its degrees, it announced yesterday.
One element of the model is to replace the one-year honours degree with a two-year masters degree which the university said was more in line with institutions in North America, Europe and China.
‘‘Current one-year honours degrees are not widely recognised outside Australia and provide a less effective research training pathway than the proposed two-year masters program. The total time to completion of a PhD will remain unchanged but the quality of the training will be significantly better.’’
A spokesman for Universities Australia said there was no universal model for the degree structure at universities in this country and he was not aware of any movement to change. ‘‘This is an issue for the universities themselves, they are all autonomous and self-accredited and they make their own decisions about which way to go.’’
Melbourne University is the only Australian university to make such a dramatic change, calling it the ‘‘Melbourne model’’.
‘‘The others are watching with interest to see where it goes and what happens. The proof of the pudding is always going to be the quality of graduate and whether they get the jobs in their chosen field, and that’s happening about now for Melbourne,’’ the spokesman said.
The Macquarie announcement was made the same day staff and students had a mass meeting to discuss and protest against the proposed changes to the honours program, as well as plans for budget cuts, a new timetable and a review into support staff.
Branch president of the National Tertiary Education Union, Cathy Rytmeister, said concerns about the honours program were more to do with the way the proposal was conducted in secrecy – it had been circulated to the Senate and members asked to keep the information confidential – rather than opposition to the move.
‘‘It was marked confidential but not treated as confidential in the normal way. The information management and communication strategy has been very poor,’’ she said.
The deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Jim Piper, said the proposal had been handled appropriately.
‘‘Academic Senate were asked not to disseminate the proposal outside of the university because we were still working through various aspects with the relevant government agencies, however they were strongly encouraged to consult widely with their constituencies [eg students, staff] on the initiative, which they subsequently did,’’ Professor Piper said.
The union continues to rail against expected budget cuts and changes to the timetable that have yet to be announced, citing lack of communication or discussion.
Along with this, I recently received an email informing me that previously free services such as sport, counselling etc (of which I do not use anyway), will now incur a compulsory fee from 2012 onwards. Another banner day at Macquarie Uni…