Universities lack funds, productivity

UNIVERSITIES are so badly underfunded and over regulated they have become “counterproductive”, says ABC Radio National science broadcaster Robyn Williams.

Mr Williams was the guest speaker at the launch of the National Tertiary Education Union campaign on issues facing regional universities.

The respected broadcaster responded to recent comments made by University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer, who had warned that universities were heading for decline after being smothered by regulations.

Mr Williams said he believed universities were wasting their potential and had become the victims of overindulgence.

“It’s counterproductive because all the time that you’re spending being regulated like that, not in an efficient and sensible way but so that people’s backs are being covered, the productivity becomes less and less,” he said.

Despite the widespread problems within universities, Mr Williams said there was “change at hand” and attributed the positive outlook to lateral thinkers.

Mr Williams said the emergence of broadband technology, in particular, could have a significant impact on universities in regional areas like Armidale.

“When you think about universities you must think, like this vice-chancellor has, of a kind of revolution which is coming through the wired world,” he said.

“A wired community, led by a university, can make a real difference in the world.”

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