A spray for Victoria U’s block-teaching model

A critic claims the new model is intolerable for some academics

Victoria U has a poultice of plaudits for its block-teaching model, initially applied in first year and now to roll out across courses in both its higher and VET divisions. But not everybody is happy, with the intense-study of subjects one at a time. Written by an anonymous student there is a blistering criticism of policy and pedagogy on the website of Overland (“Australia’s only radical literary magazine).

It criticises the teaching and learning in-puts and impact of the new model, suggesting it imposes too much information, too fast, on students and does not allow for critical thinking. It also refers to opposition to the model when it was first being introduced among VU staff. “Brilliant lecturers, tutors and professors which (sic) have dedicated themselves to academic life, to educating and enriching the lives of their students, have been forced to work in conditions that are intolerable, or else forced out from the university.”

And it has a spray at the National Tertiary Education Union, which was initially strongly opposed to staff-changes the block model brought but appears accepting now. “Its lack of a statement on a policy that directly and drastically increases the precarity of educators is contrary to the values and aims that NTEU purports to uphold.”

The Overland denunciation also claims university management, “is less than transparent” about student satisfaction.

This is a rare recent criticism of the new model which is widely praised for a potential to transform undergraduate education, universally.

We will know what students think of the new model soon-enough, as the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching student satisfaction surveys are reported. But VU does not have much to lose, in the last survey published, covering 2018, Victoria U had the lowest per centage student satisfaction in the country, 72 per cent, 6 per cent under the average (CMM April 10 2019).