Classics faces extinction
y Zoë Loh
MELBOURNE — The Classics Department at the University of Melbourne is threatened with massive cuts.
Consultation between the head of Classics, Tony Sagona, and staff has been minimal, and consultation with students non-existent. Specific measures on the agenda include the abolition of ancient languages at honours level, the abolition of beginners' languages and offering Latin and ancient Greek only in alternate years at the intermediate level.
Students intending to undertake honours studies will not be able to study texts in the original, and without honours level languages, graduates will not be qualified to teach. For prospective students, the proposed alternative to languages at beginners' level is to attend a fee-paying summer school. This is simply the introduction of fees by stealth.
Many language courses in Victoria are being cut, while there is a proposal that others will be taught by video link with other campuses. This system has already been tried and rejected by students. The cuts, if allowed to be implemented, will lead to a decline in student numbers, giving university administration the excuse to abolish Classics completely.
Any department that is not seen as lucrative is under threat. The university says that there is no money for Classics, yet lecture theatres are being refurbished in "valuable" departments like Economics and Commerce, car parks are being built and the VC still earns a huge salary.
Next week, students organised by the Education Action Group will meet with Sagona and the dean of arts, Homer LeGrand, to demand no cuts. A petition has been started, and academics from other Classics departments around the country have sent letters of support.
Contact Sam or Felicity on 9344 4808, or Alison on 9329 1320, for more information.