Australian Academics Call on New Prime Minister to Help Revive University System

December 10, 2007

Dozens of senior Australian academics sent an open letter to their new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, asking him to help repair what they say is a damaged higher-education system, The Age, a Melbourne newspaper, reported today.

The more than 140 academics who wrote the open letter called for an increase in government spending on higher education, noting that the country fared poorly in a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As a result of underfinancing, the academics noted, universities are overreliant on the tuition generated by foreign students, “a practice that has led to the emergence of cash-crop education programs which have damaged Australia’s reputation in education.”

The academics also asked Mr. Rudd to reduce the many layers of bureaucracy they say have hurt efficiency “and have led to widespread demoralization” of researchers and professors.

Mr. Rudd, who was recently elected to his post, has promised an “education revolution.” —Beth McMurtrie