Think government does not listen to unis? ‘Twas ever thus

The Australian newspaper reports there is a performance review of Unis Australia to ascertain why the Morrison Government does not do what it is told by the peak body. Perhaps somebody should check the files

Back in 2002 Andrew Robb (yes, that Andrew Robb- the former Liberal cabinet minister) advised what was then the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee why government did not pay attention to its calls for more funding (The Australian, May 8 2013).

And in 2009 Peter Quiddington (UNE) interviewed sector leaders – including six of nine AVCC board members.

He found;

* “vice chancellors were predominantly of the view that clearly written, well‐argued presentations and individual lobbying of ministers and departmental officers were the most productive approaches. This conflicted sharply with the views of policy actors, all of whom believed the VCs lacked essential ‘networking’ skills’.”

* “when it came to the art of negotiating with key bureaucrats and taking their case ‘to the hill’ they often displayed a lack of political acuity.”

Dr Quiddington concluded; “the structural weakness of the VCs’ group may inhibit its effectiveness. This has meant that the voices representing the more powerful institutions, the Group of Eight and Innovative Research Universities, dominate while fundamental change towards wider collaboration and engagement across the sector is resisted. The predisposition of the VCs is to retain the tactics they know rather than venturing into a new world of ‘networks’ and ‘ad hoc coalitions’.”

“The lobby group has some way to go before it casts off entirely the vestiges of its former privileged status and shows some readiness to occasionally get down into the muddy trenches with the rest of the troops and engage in the kind of political battle that is now the order of the day.”

Was then, is now.

* Peter Quiddington, “The new politics of Australian higher education: why universities get rumbled in the budget” Higher Education Research and Development, 29, (4) June 2010