How to spread the Ramsay Civ Centre wealth

Uni Sydney propose taking the western civ message to the campus masses

“Rather than focussing the funding on a small, select group of students, we think there is an opportunity to open up access to our teaching in these areas to hundreds more,” Vice Chancellor Michael Spence told staff yesterday.

More courses: He proposes Ramsay fund students in a new western civ studies major as part of the university’s Bachelor of Advanced Studies programme. The major would use “a great books” approach and Dr Spence points to 130 or so subjects across 13 academic areas which would be appropriate electives.

 For more people: He estimates that Ramsay funding could support 1100 hundred students over an agreed period. In contrast, the universities of Queensland and Wollongong both have agreements with the Ramsay Centre for $50m over eight years to run new degrees, taught by specially hired staff to small groups of specially selected students.

And more impact: We are proposing that the majority of funding to be used for students in the form of scholarships, bursaries, study abroad opportunities and other related support costs,” Dr Spence told staff yesterday.

So, what do people think: The Ramsay Centre responds that it has received the proposal and, “will give it due consideration.”

However, the Uni Sydney branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, which vehemently opposes previous Ramsay-style western-civ studies ideas, did not take long to make up its mind. President Kurt Iveson said he was unaware of any “open engagement” with staff in the disciplines that would be involved and questioned how scholarships would be distributed between students taking subjects as western civ major and students who weren’t.

“Given, we already teach across the disciplines listed, the only rationale for the new major seems to be Vice-Chancellor Spence’s on-going effort to secure funding from the Ramsay Centre,” Aspro Iveson says.


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