ASFS News: Statement on Higher Education Funding, Support for DECRA Applicants and Extension of Postgraduate Prize Deadline

Australian Society for French Studies statement on Higher Education funding

The Australian Society for French Studies is extremely concerned over the proposed changes in Higher Education funding. While many disciplines across HASS and STEM subjects will be negatively affected by the proposed changes, Humanities disciplines will be hardest hit. While we welcome the government’s recognition that English and languages can contribute significantly to students’ employability, it is our strongly held view that all Humanities disciplines do so. Modern Languages, the area in which we mostly work, includes disciplines such as history, film studies, philosophy and cultural studies, which are destined to suffer especially under these proposed measures. We are concerned for the Humanities, for the University sector in general, and for the students we serve.

We echo the sentiments of Prof. Joy Damousi, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, who commented “Evidence shows that the skills and knowledge from humanities and social sciences training – including critical thinking, communication skills and understanding the impact of change on humanity – are highly valued by employers and in the workforce. There is a clear disconnect in the government’s thinking around the issue of qualifications and employment. Disincentivising studies in humanities courses will actually have the opposite effect to that intended by the government. It will directly and adversely impact the government’s future jobs agenda.”

Importantly, the Australian Academy of Science has expressed similar reservations, stating that “The Australian Academy of Science stands with the nation’s other learned academies in expressing concerns about the implications of the announced package across all scientific and academic disciplines. Our society needs scientists, but it would be poorer if not for people educated in the arts, social sciences, management, commerce, law and the humanities. Scientists know that all knowledge is multidisciplinary, and a system that silos knowledge and values one sort of knowledge over another will fail Australians.”

We believe that disincentivising the study of the Humanities impoverishes our students, our workforce and the future competitivity of our nation. Amidst the current crisis and the inevitable rethinking of global relations, such a move is even more concerning.

We call on Members of Parliament to develop an equitable funding policy that awards choices and intellectual opportunities to all of our students.

Support to our DECRA applicants

The ASFS is committed to supporting our ECR members, whom we consider to be the future of our discipline. In the spirit of the formal mentoring program the ASFS is developing this year, we would like to extend our support to ECR members with their DECRA applications. If any of you would like support in the process of writing your rejoinders, due 7 July 2020, please email President Natalie Edwards at natalie.edwards@adelaide.edu.au.

ASFS/AJFS Postgraduate Essay Prize: Deadline Extended

The deadline for the ASFS/AJFS Postgraduate Essay Prize has been extended to 31 July 2020. Please submit your articles to Postgraduate Officer Dr Clara Sitbon at clara.sitbon@sydney.edu.au.