Posts Tagged ‘Massey University’

Yes, Clydesdale is a drain on academia

June 7, 2008

Updating the previous posts on Clydesdale, I listened to this (Saturday) morning’s interview with Clydesdale on the Kim Hill Show.

Clydesdale defended his paper from the criticism of the established academics who had reviewed it by saying that (1) it was refereed by two academics for conference acceptance and (2) as it was an “international business” paper, the sociologists and economists weren’t qualified to review it. His arguments don’t stand up.

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Clydesdale: a drain on academia?

June 4, 2008

Went to the taping of Media7 last night. The episode, which screens tonight, deals mainly with the Massey University lecturer’s paper that claims that Pacific Island immigrants are a drain on the NZ economy, and reporting of Pacific communities’ affairs generally. The panel is DomPost editor Tim Pankhurst, Barbara Dreaver and Oscar Kightley.

I can confirm that the episode is bloody good, tackling hard questions on important issues in an entertaining way. It’s well worth catching tonight on TVNZ 7 at 9.30pm (if you have a Freeview box — I’ll be getting one now) or downloading tomorrow. It’s also worth watching out for an invitation at Russell Brown’s blog to a recording session on a Tuesday evening at The Classic.

I’ve already posted on the Clydesdale paper, though without having a copy at hand. A pdf file of the paper is now available — not that I am suggesting that it is worth the effort of reading. And it is an effort. But I thought I should take a look myself having blogged on it, and my fears were confirmed.

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Does “study” merit so much attention?

May 21, 2008

It really is a good week for media beat-ups. Hot on the heals of Phil Goff’s revelations that his Party could lose the election (see previous post), we have a beleaguered academic struggling against “PC bullies” to raise issues about Pacific Islanders’ economic contribution in NZ, according to the NZPA.

First, just what are we looking at here? The Herald refers variously to a “report” and a “study” by “economist” Greg Clydesdale, of Massey University’s management and international business department. The DomPost even labels it a “discussion document”.

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NZ universities & what the market will bare

May 3, 2008

In case you missed it, earlier this week NZ’s largest university posted on its website a picture of a bikini-clad recent graduate posing seductively in the surf, for the publicity. It got it, of course.

The university staff union objected. Of course. It labelled the piece “one of the most banal news features emanating from a university this year.” (This decade is more like it.) And within hours the picture was replaced by a head and shoulders shot.

NZers were then treated to lengthy treatments of the story on what passes for “current affairs” TV here. This included the host of the supposedly more serious show interviewing the glamorous graduate. I’m not sure that John Campbell’s reputation for seriousness was enhanced, I’m fairly certain that Massey University’s reputation for brainy graduates was not, but I guess the University’s PR staff revelled in the publicity.

At one level the event raises questions about the continuing use of the sexualised female body to sell things, and the wider consequences. Elements of the news media have instead sought to portray the union as fuddy duddies and prudes. [Update: the Tabloid on Sunday says that the union President should “get out … more”.]

That’s wrong. The objectification of women is not a trivial issue. When a university posts this type of picture on its website it reinforces widely held views about female sexuality and its availability, and adds its authority to these views. Others will no doubt have more to say about this, and say it with more weight than me.

At another level, we might ask what this event tells us about the state of NZ’s tertiary education system. Is it a sympton of the decay that some say followed the imposition of the market-led model since the 1980s?

The authors of Crisis of Identity?, a study of the effects of these reforms, argued that the best American universities “retain a more robust sense of themselves as embodying an academic mission, and more clearly understand that it is the academic mission which confers on them their distinctive social purposes, than seems to be the case with our universities.”

It is fitting that the university that sought to use the sexualised image of a partly-clad woman to sell university education is the one that embraced the market-led approach most vigorously. Today, Massey University is NZ’s largest university by number of students because it pursued a strategy of growth by acquisition and expansion from the early 1990s. It epitomises the reforms.

It did not concentrate on doing those things that universities traditionally do. Thus, in the 2006 research assessment exercise it ranked a poor sixth out of NZ’s eight universities, out-scoring only the two most recent entrants into the university club. Perhaps it needs to focus more on the unique academic mission that it has as a university, and less on gratuitous sexualised self-promotion.

[Declaration of interest: In the past I have held office at branch level in the Association of University Staff.]