14/09/2012 by Save The SCRC
Friday, 14 September
It’s quickly becoming very obvious that Swinburne’s decision to discontinue its commercial radio course was done with little preparation, very little forethought, and almost no consultation with several key figures.
On the sixth of September via social media Swinburne stated that:
“We have considered every possible option to make it viable.”
Putting aside whether or not it is actually viable, let’s first look at the claim about considering every viable option.
The commercial radio course was originally an initiative of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), which approached Swinburne to run the course, and provided the university with industry subsidy , according to Acting Dean Michael Gilding, “most recently at $20,000 per annum”.
If they were that heavily involved, I’m sure one viable option for Swinburne would have been to talk to the CRA and see if it could help. Instead, here’s what a spokesperson for the CRA had to say:
“Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Radio Australia, Joan Warner was surprised by Swinburne’s decision and she indicated that Commercial Radio Australia had not been forewarned of the decision or consulted.”
That! That right there is a missed option.
Swinburne wasn’t even organised enough to consult with Commercial Radio Australia – hell, Swinburne wasn’t even organised enough to warn them. If the administration wasn’t even thorough enough to consult with CRA, how do we know it hasn’t missed other possibilities to make the course ‘viable’?
But it gets worse. Sure, no-one bothered to warn the Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Radio Australia – but surely the rest of the university would be kept in the loop, right? Or at least the media team who would have to deal with any fight-back? But somehow, a full day after students had been informed of the decision, this happened:
Apparently Swinburne doesn’t think it’s a good idea to warn its own people when it makes a big decision like… axing an entire course.
So clearly the university hasn’t planned this very well, but surely it knows why the course is being axed in the first place?
Well, no. It seems everyone is a bit foggy on that too. Initially we were told that: “in 2007, considerable funds were spent in relocating and upgrading the radio production suites to a brand new facility. The Faculty has been wearing the loss generated from this course for many years, and in the current financial environment we are no longer able to bear the burden of a course that cannot cover its costs.”
Putting aside the fact that since 2007 the radio course has received increased revenue from higher enrolment, this explanation was then brought into question on the twelfth of September when the Acting faculty dean told us:
“Unfortunately the course has been financially non-viable for a long time – at least, since the formation of the Faculty 8 years ago.”
For those of you who can do maths, 2007 was five years ago, not eight – so this raises two questions:
One, if it’s true why has the course not been viable for the last eight years? Enrolment has increased since then, the university admitted this itself on the seventh of September:
“14 students commenced the course each year from 2003-2006. We had 18 students each year from 2006-2008 and 20 each year from 2009-2012.”
Now this will take some quick maths, so stay with me. If we consider that student fees are currently around $14,000 a year per student, the increase of students in 2006 means that there was an increase in revenue of $56 000 per year until 2008, when it increased again by approximately $24 000 per year.
Now if student fees were lower than $14,000 per year earlier on, that means the initial yearly revenue from fees has increased by an even larger amount since the inception of the course.
However, the even bigger question is if the course has not been viable for over eight years, why did Swinburne spend even more money to relocate the course in 2007 in the first place? I’m no accountant, but surely this is bad financial planning.
From day one (and earlier) Swinburne has not been organised in its mission to discontinue its commercial radio course. It has clearly not checked all its options, or even consulted all the right people. Something else is going on that’s making the admins rush through this decision as fast as possible, and it’s the future students and the radio industry at large that will have to pay the price.