Firstly, a disclaimer:
I am very proudly a student of the only dedicated Internet Studies department in Australia. I am proud to be studying with such an amazing group of forward thinking individuals who see the sense in making a current study of the very real future. I am proud to be nearing the end of my undergraduate studies, and am looking forward to honours and post-graduate studies in the future.
What does not make me proud, however, is the fact that the powers that be at Curtin University have seen fit to implement a phasing out of university admissions for the degree and major in Internet Communications. They will, despite this, be keeping the course open through their affiliate Open University Australia.
I’ll give that a moment to sink in.
They are dropping on campus and external admissions in favour of online admissions through a third party.
Cost cutting? Well, not really. When you consider that they still need the same number of tutors and lecturers to teach and online group, and that in an ever-changing subject constant research is needed, there’s no real way to save money for this.
But, I hear you ask, if I study online (as I have stated elsewhere) what’s the problem?
Good question. Why should I be getting fired up about this? Well, let’s make it simple.
When I started this degree, I wanted to just get a magical piece of paper. I just wanted a piece of paper that said I had stuck it out for three years. I didn’t even want Honours. I wasn’t looking to do any kind of Higher Degree.
One year in and I knew this was what I wanted. I wanted Honours. I wanted a PhD. I wantd to revisit that desire to teach I had back in high school. I wanted to lecture, and I wanted to lecture at the only Internet Studies department in Australia.
Now, let me be clear. This move is not shutting down the entire department. It is simply removing the option for students to enrol either on campus or externally through Curtin University. This means the only way you will be able to enrol in this degree from 2014 onwards, is through Open University.
But, let’s look at the patterns here.
They are removing an option for students to enroll into a course. This will mean that some people who might have looked at this unit as a way for them to improve their life, will be turned away. I know. But everything is online these days!
Let’s get real. Some people, even in this day and age of web-mediated everyday life, feel that left to their own devices to study at home, alone, without class times to meet and tutorials to attend, they will not be successful in their academic endeavours. I, for one, have had people look at me like I’m some sort of time management empress and super disciplined because I can study at home.
So, less people in your course. This will mean you have less money to spend on the course. If you have less money to spend on the course, you will need to make more and more cuts until there is no course to offer at all. I don’t think it’s that far a stretch to follow that.
Now, back to what makes the Internet Studies department, and the Internet Communications degree, so special.
There is no other course of study like this. There are other degrees (Communications, Media, Cultural Studies), sure, and some of them even have units that brush on the particular skills necessary for writing online. They do not look into the sociological issues surrounding internet and web use. They don’t look into the application of theories and concepts as applied to web use.
So what? The internet is just a thing we use. So long as we have people to make everything online work, what’s the problem?
So, internet addiction isn’t something that requires a definite working knowledge of how people and the internet work together?
Marketing online can just have old school marketing principles reworked to it?
Communities that work online don’t need people who have a specific skill set to manage them?
Copywriting for online audiences doesn’t require specific knowledge?
I think we get the point. You can’t just take a physical world idea and plonk it onto an online platform. It doesn’t work like that.
There is a petition. There is a Facebook group. The twitter hashtag is: #savenetstudies.
Want more information? Keep an eye on these groups. This is all the information we currently have. As more comes to light, it will be shared.