Swinburne U still says no to world-languages

Despite protests and an intriguing proposal Japanese, Chinese and Italian are out

Even before she started at Swinburne U VC Pascale Quester was clear that world languages were out and tech was even more in than it already was. “Do we need to be the 10th university that teaches Chinese or Italian? No… we are the Swinburne University of Technology, we are going to be working with industry and students on creating the technology of the future.”

“My vision for Swinburne is that we need to differentiate from the pack and that our DNA at Swinburne is fundamentally STEM and technology and preparing the human capital required to make it sing,” she said (CMM July 9).

And now the university now has its ducks in the row needed to stop teaching Chinese, Japanese and Italian.

A union and academic campaign warning Australia needs world-language speakers, does not appear to have had any impact with management.

Swinburne U management adds that it consulted with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, “in accordance with requirements under our funding agreement.”

But there is also a proposal to make language-learning at Swinburne U STEM focused. It includes courses in technological and digital business Chinese and reading scientific reports in the language. (Plus a vocab unit using Chinese science fiction!)

There’s a similar syllabus for Japanese.

This, supporters say, meets the VC’s objective for Swinburne U, “to differentiate from the pack.” However, Swinburne’ overall response is that the “decision to discontinue Chinese, Japanese and Italian courses was taken following a strategic review and consultation process, as required by our industrial agreement.”

So much for Dan Tehan’s line that learning a language adds to employability.