The Corporate Brand

The following is the text from Julie-Ann Robson’s talk at Politics in the Pub in Sydney on July 21st 2015

The 2016 federal election has come and gone and we’re still not clear on what the Government’s policy on Higher Education will be – apart from a hint that they may try to introduce deregulated fees for ‘boutique’ courses such as Law or Medicine. I think most people involved in the sector are increasingly aware that they work in institutions that have changed profoundly over recent decades. But they also recognise, with growing horror, that universities are in the process of implementing more radical change than any of us were capable of imagining, foreshadowed by the ‘Melbourne Model,’ or what Gary Newman has described as taking ‘a wrecking ball’ to higher education.

The profound change is made noticeable by the round of ‘brand refreshes’ sweeping through the sector as we speak. Western Sydney University took it to a new level with Deng Adut – making him ‘the face’ of Western Sydney not unlike the way Johnny Depp’s daughter has become the Face of Chanel (I had to google that) or George Clooney is ‘the face’ of Nespresso. Brand identity has become all-consuming in the sector, and marketing and communications portfolios are taking increasing control of ‘the messaging’ of their institutions.


Julie-Ann Robson

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Class Struggle is the Name of the Game at Universities. It’s the Ethical Elephant in the Room

Picture this. You have a Ph.D. in anthropology and are hired, as an adjunct, to teach an anthropology course on “colonialism, economic crisis, peasant struggles, nationalism, indigenous rights, independence movements, and struggles over development and underdevelopment.” That’s an actual job posting. The salary for the position is $3,413.

A tenured faculty member may receive about $10,000 to teach the same course.

Now answer this. How can you NOT talk about your own struggles when the subjects you are hired to teach on – oppression and struggle – apply to you? You are a flesh and blood native of Nacirema (“America” spelt backwards) standing before the students. You can provide insider testimony, as a key informant, about “the other.” And you are “the other.” You are a Ph.D. anthropologist who is actually working in the field.

Brian McKenna

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