THE revelations that Paul Greenfield, vice chancellor at the University of Queensland, has been forced to retire early because of “irregularities” in admission of a close relative to medical school do not come as a shock to many of us who have worked in the Australian university sector for many years (‘Relatively stupid for vice-chancellor’, November 12-13, Australian Financial Review).
Neither does the unsuccessful attempt to cover up the scandal. Ethical standards in universities have deteriorated alarmingly over the past couple of decades. I have seen situations where final grades of particular students at Queensland universities, including University of Queensland, have been arbitrarily changed to accommodate the whims of senior administrators.
I have been a lecturer and senior lecturer at universities for more than 20 years. These also include Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University.
I have seen practices amounting to selling degrees to poorly qualified overseas students to bring in revenue. Those at subordinate staff levels who try to intervene or object are dealt with very harshly.
There is a pervasive sense of personal entitlement and lack of accountability among the most senior ranks of our universities that is very disturbing. This culture needs to change. A step in the right direction would be for Greenfield to leave his position immediately, acknowledge his failings, and at least provide a public apology to the hapless medical school applicant his relative displaced.
John W. Bearsey
Republished with permission from Bearsey, first published by the Australian Financial Review, Letters, November 15, 2011.