New Position in Media & Communication

While the discussion about a new position in Media & Communication has been triggered by the departure of Marc Brennan in July 2004 to take up a Lecturer B job at the University of Sydney, the case for such a position has been looming for some time and, indeed, was implied in the decision to make two 0.5 Lecturer A appointments in 2003. At a time when the Discipline was embedding a new undergraduate program, the understanding at Faculty level was that these would convert into a full-time position in 2005, as the question of Discipline needs was clarified. The case for advertising for a new position in Media & Communication arises from four factors:

1. High Student:Staff ratios in Media & Communication
QUT data indicates that Media & Communication has the highest student:staff ratio in the Creative Industries Faculty, and that it has grown dramatically over the 2002-2003 period. Student: Staff Ratio 2002 2003 9.6 10.8 14.8 18.3 21.3 23.5 12 11 17.7 11 24.3 22.8 15.1 14.5 13.6 24.6 17.2 14.7 16.8 16.6 19.5 19.1 18.7 19.7 Staff FTE 2002 9.43 13.79 11.92 15.54 1.42 13.59 13.35 8.87 14.99 15.26 14.08 2003 10.03 13.29 12.67 15.34 2.92 13.59 13.95 8.37 17.09 15.86 14.08

Acting & TP Comm. Des. CWCS Dance Fashion FTV Journalism Media & Comm Music Perf. St. Visual Arts Faculty Ave.

While there are contingent factors in the sharpness of the increase in this ratio – most notably the oneyear lag between staff changes and curriculum changes – the table above also indicates the extent of reliance upon casual academic staff to meet the teaching needs of the discipline. In 2002, Media & Communication employed 57 academic staff, of whom 7 were full-time or fractional, and 50 were casual. While 2003 data is not as yet available, the number of full-time/fractional staff fell to 6.5, and the casual academic staff budget figures would point to dramatic growth in the total number of casual academic staff. While there are relevant and useful arguments for the ongoing use of casual academic staff in Creative Industries disciplines, I would argue that the experience of Media & Communication has been one of ongoing casualisation of core teaching responsibilities, with all of the ongoing stresses and strains which such an approach leads to.

2. Departure of Greg Hearn to CIRAC
The establishment of Greg Hearn as Research Development Co-Ordinator for the Faculty through CIRAC has unquestionably been a major and important strategic initiative for Creative Industries that has delivered significant tangible outcomes. At the same time, it has led to a significant gap for the Media & Communications discipline in terms of higher-level academic leadership.

The establishment of Professor Hearn in this role has led to a bifurcation of the Discipline’s profile, between a small number of academic staff with extensive university experience, but who are unlikely to become intellectual leaders in the field, and a large number of people with considerable promise, but without significant experience in academic positions. There is a case, not only for replacing Greg Hearn, but for ensuring that the replacement is someone who is not only able to meet gaps in the teaching program, but who can exercise recognizable academic leadership in articulation Media & Communication to Creative Industries at a national and international level. While it could be argued that leading people in the Faculty, such as John Hartley and Stuart Cunningham, are in fact located in Media & Communication and therefore filling this role, the problem is that people in such senior roles are understandably unable to articulate this back to curriculum development in Media & Communication.

3. Resolving instability in unit co-ordination
While the Media & Communication discipline is recognized in the Creative Industries Faculty as a leader in delivering undergraduate programs with the highest degree of economy – it only offers 12 undergraduate units, which is the minimum requirement for a Professional degree, and a substantial number of these units are offered into inter-disciplinary and inter-faculty programs – the discipline has faced an ongoing problem of instability in unit co-ordination, as indicated below in relation to specific units. The problem that arises is only in part about co-ordination: it is also about consistent intellectual development of the units, and how they articulate into an overall vision for the Media & Communication degrees over time. Unit KCB140 Media & Society – From the Printing Press to the Internet KCB295 Virtual Cultures KCB336 New Media Technologies KCB204 Globalisation and New Media 2002 Christina Spurgeon Christina Spurgeon Christina Spurgeon Greg Hearn 2003 Gil Woodley Gil Woodley Henk Huijser Adam Swift 2004 Jason Sternberg Judy Gregory Axel Bruns ?

4. Capitalising on economic gains in Media & Communication
The Media & Communication discipline has been rigorous in the development of new resource opportunities, and in identifying cost savings in the delivery of courses. The suite of interfaculty postgraduate coursework degree offerings in Creative Industries, established in 2002 in collaboration with the Brisbane Graduate School of Business, have already attracted … EFTSU, at a rate of $/EFTSU ($100/cp) that is well above the Faculty average. The new interfaculty postgraduate coursework degree offerings in Creative Advertising are showing a similar upwards trend, with … enrolments being identified in this degree so far. At the same time, Media & Communications has assiduously pursued cost savings in the delivery of undergraduate degree programs. Identifying the opportunities provided by the new teaching spaces at the Creative Industries Precinct, the maximum number of students participating in an undergraduate unit that does not involve computing technology has been increased from 20 to 25 in 2004, and the maximum number of students involved in a computer lab-based tutorial has been increased from 16 to 20, in recognition of the absence of a space constraint of the sort that existed at the Gardens Point campus. Detailed data on the cost savings arising from such changes can be made available on request. Moreover, the discipline made a strategic decision in late 2003 not to continue one of the 0.5 Lecturer A positions for 2004, and to rely upon casual academic staff for 2004, in order to have ‘money in the bank’ for the development of a position for 2005. My point in all of this is that, while I haven’t done

the detailed microeconomics, the broad case for a new position in Media & Communication is nonetheless strong..

On the basis if recent experience, we know two things about positions in Median & Communications. First, on the basis of advertising two 0.5 lecturer A positions in late 2001, we can guarantee a strong field of applicants. Of the 25 people who applied for those positions, about 1/3 had PhDs, and about 1/3 were about to complete’. PhDs. Second, as the fastest growing area in the Humanities & Creative Arts panel, people (particularly from the Sandstone Universities) are very prepared to headhunt. We are losing Marc Brennan because the Program Director at the University of Sydney identified him as someone that they wanted, evaluated our offerings, and made him a better offer. We should not be naive about the extent to which filling these positions involves active recruitment of preferred candidates, rather than some form of blind tendering. I have outlined below my sense of the pros and cons of advertising the position at different levels. My recurring argument would be that we should go for an ongoing rather than a contract position, and that the successful applicant must have a PhD. My preference is for an appointment at a Lecturer B level, as indicated below: Level of Appointment Lecturer A Lecturer B Pros Will do a lot of teaching Low-cost option Will attract strong national field, including those currently in fulltime positions Can establish a leadership role Can be appointed to leadership role Would attract international field Cons Easily lost to another University Difficult to engage in strategic course planning

Lecturer C Lecturer D +

Current staff will apply Higher-cost option I would apply


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