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FRANK REPORT

'VARSITY TEACHERS DANGER OF "INBREEDING" "The . University departments abroad that have acquired worldwide reputation have been able to do so because they had at their head an eminent man. Although New Zealand can hope for nothing like this for a long time to come, it is still true that the intellectual life of the department depends in the first instance on the learning and-ability of its head. "But the lecturers also should be men of authority in their fields, capable of independent thought, able to add to knowledge, not mere mouthpieces or delegates of the head of the department; and this should be the case both for the senior lecturer and the lecturers. Assistant lecturers may be beginners acting largely under instruction, their appointment temporary, their salary a living wage." The above is an extract from a lengthy report, remarkable for its frankness, prepared by a joint committee of the Professorial Board of the Auckland University College and the College Council, for submission to a conference of University Colleges to be held at the end of this month when representations from the other colleges will be considered for submission to the Government. "Stagnates in Backwater" The professorial board considered that professors and lecturers should be selected from the world market and conditions should be such that this could be done. "A systematic policy, which has been forced on us, of appointing as lecturers, people with only New Zealand experience, must lead, like all inbreeding, to degeneration," spates the report. "They have been trained in New Zealand only, and even if standards were higher than they are, no New Zealand professor is as good as a combination of the half dozen men or more under which they would study in England. Inbreeding perpetuates abuses and may standardise the teaching at the stage at which the teacher was taught; new ideas may not even be heard of; a subject which progresses continually elsewhere stagnates in a backwater. This need not always happen, but the danger is always present, and it does often happen."

The report gives in detail facts revealing the marked deterioration in the economic position of university teachers, quotes figures showing the wide disparity between salaries in Britain. Australia and New Zealand and makes recommendations as to future staffing and salary scales and grading of lecturers. A table giving the student-staff ratio in Auckland University College and in other universities reveals that at Oxford and Cambridge there is one lecturer to every five and a half students; Great Britain, one to nine; Sydney, one to 15; Melbourne, one to 17; and Auckland University College, one to every 32 students. "Not a Mere Hireling" "A university teacher is not a mere hireling and opportunities for contributing to his subject and of founding a research school weigh with him more than a larger salary. Such opportunities are more rare in New Zealand than anywhere else and from this point of view also the posts are most unattractive," continues the report. "It follows that unless great changes are made we shall, in the future, to quote the bitter words of a recent chairman's report, staff our colleges with the 'rejects of other universities.' The possible effects of this should be pointed out. The whole argument, whichever way it turns, leads to the ! same consequence; conditions for professors and lecturers must be no worse thaxi elsewhere if the university in any sense is to survive. Furthermore, we can be quite sure that there will be a most serious shortage of men qualified for university posts for many years after the coming of peace".

Summing up, the committee said that an increase in staff which was absorbed mainly in Stage 1 teaching would be a most undesirable step. Still more of the university's work would be V. Form and Lower VI., whereas an increase which would give them a chance of doing more for the good student would be a real advance. "It is unfortunate that the first course would be simple and easy, the second hard and revolutionary, and that many on our present staffs are so tired and disheartened that they might take the line of least resistance. It is felt that we should aim to bring the staffstudent ratio up to that of the average ratio of Melbourne and Sydnev, 16—1, as soon as possible. This means doubling the present staff." The report was adopted.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19450814.2.83

Bibliographic details

FRANK REPORT, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 191, 14 August 1945

Word Count
735

FRANK REPORT Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 191, 14 August 1945

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