Alma Mater

UQ.jpg

I was on campus on Monday to borrow some books for my PhD. It’s the first time in nine years that I’m not gearing up for the teaching semester, so I’m feeling fairly relaxed at the moment. I’m evidently so out of touch that I didn’t realise til I got there that it was O Week. Since today’s the big Market Day at Queensland Uni, I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for my first O Week as an 18 year old Arts/Law student. Way back in the 80s. I probably got a little seduced by clubs and socs and student politics at the beginning, and consequently didn’t do any study really til third year, but what a time it was. Livable student support, free education, no need for a casual job, heaps of time to read and think and socialise and politicise, endless parties at West End, great friendships, tutorials with no more than ten students. Even though higher ed is a different world today, I’m a little envious of the experience thousands are about to discover for the first time.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
This entry was posted in Education, Life, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2021 years ago

That’s funny, Mark, nobody seemed to be saying anything about ‘livable student support’ at the time. Perhaps your nostalgia is making it seem better than it was?

mc gregg
2021 years ago

Hey Mark, Are you sure you weren’t looking for my office? Other side of the quad! Lucky you avoiding teaching. Now you have no excuse to not finish your thesis.

And Andrew – isn’t that the precise beauty and function of nostalgia?

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Fair enough, Andrew, I remember student marches about TEAS (the fore-runner to AUSTUDY). However, it wasn’t too difficult to qualify for independent status, as I recall there was no parental means test, and there was a living away from home rate. As I recall, I used to get $70 a week and my rent was $30 in a Kangaroo Point share house on the river.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Have you got a view of the Great Court, Mel? I’ll come and say hello next time I’m there!

Actually, I’ve worked at UQ three times – as a tutor in the then Government Dept in 98, as a Lecturer in Sociology in 02 and as an Associate Lecturer in Behavioural Studies at Ipswich in 04.

In 02, I had an office in the sandstone but decrepit Michie building (the School couldn’t afford to paint the walls at that point in time), but with a wonderful view of the Great Court and the river over to Highgate Hill. I was up on the 7th floor, basically up above the Law Library…
It was a thrill when I got the job to have an office to call my own off the same corridor where I’d had my GT100 tutes in first year!

Michael Carden
Michael Carden
2021 years ago

I’ve got some teaching at UQ this semester – an advanced Biblical Hebrew course. my last teaching gigs were back in 2nd semester 2003. This time I’ve got no office and nexxt week at the first class I’ve got to give the students a choice of a 1 hour class each week or a two hour class each fortnight. Budgetary constraints mean a cutback on the casual teaching and I beleive there are even more severe cuts in the pipeline. It’s not just UQ and it’s not just Australia, although I think Howard has been especially deadly to tertiary ed in this country. But there are cutbacks across the Anglo world and it’s the Humanities that are suffering. There’s just no jobs, or where they are (always overseas) the rejection letters come back saying that they had anything between 100 and 150 applications. It will be 3 years next month since I handed in my dissertation and I haven’t even made it to an interview.

Hmmm, that turned out to be a bit of a whine. But I’m thinking that Mark looks back nostalgically to the 80s but I’m just as nostalgic for the early 90s. Campus life was much more intersting then – I think it’s pretty dead nowadays. Australian society was much kinder then too. I saw Priscilla last year – a 10th anniversary screening during Pride and it was quite a shock. It contained a vision of an Australia that could have been but is defintiely lost. I left the cinema mourning what might have been. I don’t think we’ll ever get it back

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Michael, I agree with you – I have the same feeling about the early 90s – a time of great possibility both politically and culturally. There was a certain spirit of anarchism in the air as well, I think.

You and I could also no doubt reminisce endlessly about some vivid memories of those times at Uni – such as the notorious Council meeting in the Great Court and of course your exorcism of Semper :) There was a very surreal feel to UQ from the Vicky Brazil year to when Sandy and SEA won big in 92…

And then there was Helen Darville/Demidenko… but I could go on forever, so I’ll stop!

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2021 years ago

A few couple of points –

The problem in higher ed finance hasn’t been ‘cuts’ – there never have been any cuts to per student funding, only to the number of student places. The two problems are indexation at essentially safety net adjustment, which is below actual wage increases (a Keating decision), and an inability to charge students. Nelson changed the latter, but since the price cap is also indexed at a rate below cost increases the basic structural problem is still there. The humanities, depending on internal uni funding formulas, probably suffer more than other faculties because they have fewer fee-paying students, whose cross-subsidies keep universities going.

* as I understand it student income support eligibility has been tightened but actual payments have increased in real terms since the 1980s. But student aspirations have increased a lot more, as has rent in inner suburbs for those at the older universities, making it much harder to get by on.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2021 years ago

Sorry about that inept alteration above – two points, so a couple.

wen
wen
2021 years ago

It’s fairly difficult to qualify for youth allowance/Austudy. My 19 year old sister-in-law, who’s from a small country town, has just moved in with us, so she can study at UNE. Her parents can’t afford to pay her way, but she still doesn’t qualify for any govt. assistance. Even if we’re her legal guardians, our (modest) income is still too high for youth allowance — and that’s taking into account the fact that we have four other children. She’s currently sharing a room with our 12 year old daughter — not an optimal way to begin undergraduate life — but a good incentive to look for work, I suppose. I think there’s a case for some sort of special support for regional students — as there’s not really equality of opportunity when you’re not within coo-ee of a uni.

Back to the 80’s: it took me two years of full-time employment to qualify for independent status (this was after after a genuinely serious falling-out with parents — there was no ‘divorcing’ them in those days, which is a possibility now). Then, as I recall, I received $110/week & paid $70/week rent — this was in 87-88. Think the late 70’s might have been the only time you could live on govt. assistance (in Sydney, anyway) without working part-time.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Andrew, what was the significance of Vanstone’s 6% cut to funding in the first Howard budget then?

The absence of indexation also obviously implies a reduction in funding in real terms.

As you note, universities also vary in their internal allocation of EFTSU. Social Science subjects receive double the funding at UQ as they do at QUT.

wen, my memory didn’t serve me all that well. $70 was the at-home rate which I received in first year – I moved out of home in second year and got the away-from-home rate. I deferred uni and worked for a year full time in the public service – I’m pretty sure this qualified me for the independent rate, but hey, it’s a long time ago!

liam hogan
2021 years ago

What a bunch of middle-class intellectual nostalgia, this thread sounds like a Golden Oldies radio station for academics.
Watch out, I think I can hear Bob Ellis coming, with stories about people who stole his ideas at uni, and famous women he’s slept with.
Ohh, my lunch…

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

So young, Liam, and so cynical :)

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
2021 years ago

Mark – The cut was to the number of places, particularly in postgraduate coursework, where at least in theory they could be replaced by full-fee students. As I recall no existing undergraduate places were cut, but some growth places promised by Labor were. In the end I think there as only one year in which public funding went backwards, because the Libs decided to pay a nominal amount for HECS students enrolled above quota, which largely made up for other losses.

Vanstone’s cuts made little or no difference to universities’ overall financial situation, the problem was (and is) in the indexation.