Problem Provost14 February 2018
Concerns have been raised over the appointment of Mark Considine as the University’s provost, due to his history of downsizing and cutting funding from the Faculty of Arts during his term as dean.
A former office bearer for the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) said, “Mark Considine once said to me that the University is a business. I think it is this attitude that sums up everything that is wrong with higher education and everything that is wrong with his appointment.”
Considine’s new position will mean that he leads the chancellery (academic and international) and is directly responsible for the development of academic policies. He will also oversee teaching and learning, as well as coordinate the University’s international pursuits, according to the University’s website.
Considine has served as the dean of arts since 2007. His re-appointment in 2009 was met with serious backlash by the former dean, Professor Stuart Macintyre, as well as several other professors in the arts department.According to a 2009 article in Crikey, criticisms towards Considine came after he was accused by Macintyre of ‘retrospective falsification’ of departmental deficits, which Considine used to justify over 50 cuts to staff.
Considine was also criticised of targeting the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, both by academics in the department and students as well.
UMSU Education (Public) Office Bearer Conor Clements expressed concern about the appointment of Considine after the government’s recent cuts to higher education funding.
“Given the downsizing of the School of Historical and Philosophical Sciences that occurred during his time as the dean of arts, there is perhaps some cause for concern as to how courses at the University will change, especially if Commonwealth funding for the University continues to decline as it will over the next couple of years,” he said.
When contacted about these criticisms, Considine simply said, “The School of Historical and Philosophical Studies … is recognised as the leading Australian school in its field.”
His appointment as provost means that he will also act as deputy to the vice-chancellor and oversee the academic leadership team. Considine is taking over from Margaret Sheil, who has held the position since 2012.
The expectation of a successful university, especially the renowned University of Melbourne, is that it delivers high quality services and products to its consumers while being financially prosperous. Time will tell whether Considine will indeed be a successful provost.