Opinion: Fuck It, Letís Privatise the Business School

Opinion: Fuck It, Letís Privatise the Business School

Well, here we are. It’s the final issue of Critic for 2023, and my final issue forever. I’ve been lucky enough to spend three glorious, tumultuous, unhinged years writing for this publication, and now the time has come for my final rampage. And to that I say: fuck it, let’s privatise the Business School. Fully and exclusively. 
 
If you’ve been following along this year, you know that 2023 has been nothing but a dumpster fire for the University. Back in May, Otago announced they had a 60 million dollar deficit which they blamed on lower-than-expected student enrolment, even though the targets they missed were set by… themselves. And they were strangely high. Because things around here run like a business, the University realised the only way to rebalance the spreadsheets was to cut costs, which is just finance bro speak for cutting staff; many of whom have dedicated their entire lives to public education and the pursuit of knowledge. Who needs ‘em?
 
The tertiary sector has been chronically underfunded since the 1980s when we moved to a fees-based model which relies on enrolments to generate income. This model, combined with the fact we’re all just cogs in the capitalist machine, meant that with the introduction of student loans, people were only enrolling in degrees that would guarantee them “job security”, (AKA Commerce). Since this change to the tertiary sector, Commerce degree enrolments have shot up 25 percent. Sure, the University still gets funding from the Government, but it’s nowhere near as much as it should be, and it seems like every single subject which isn’t considered “profitable” is on the chopping block. 
 
This leads me to my point: surely, in order to avoid a financial crisis and mass redundancies, we entirely privatise the Business School. They will only make money from direct enrolments, not from any other part of Otago Uni. Put your money where your mouth is, right?
 
They’re already quite separate. When you walk into the Business School it doesn’t even seem like it’s part of the University. Maybe my view of university buildings is slightly cooked due to spending the past six years cramped up in the brutalist Burns building which hasn’t been yassified since the ‘70s, but there is something liminal about the Business School (or, as I call it, the land of the invisible hand). It’s got modern architecture, a cafe, huge screens telling me which stonks to buy, drinking fountains with ice cold water, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Leith. It’s a wide-open space that reeks of privilege, fake tan, and Lynx Africa. It’s full of girls who want to be influencers and boys who think that American Psycho wasn’t satire. Just by stepping foot inside, you can tell it’s a place where fiscal austerity doesn’t seem to exist. And underfunding? Never heard of her. If it doesn’t fit aesthetically with the University, then isn’t that grounds enough to make it a separate entity? Unless you’re studying in the sweltering heat of Central, or risking life and limb to get in the Richardson Building elevator, surely you can’t really call yourself an Otago student.
 
Now before you all get up my ass, now is the time to disclose that I was once a Business School-dwelling beezy. As a fresher, I was a Marketing major until I had the realisation that the entire degree was based on manipulating consumers into buying shit they don’t need and destroying the planet - so I know the fire I’m stoking. Never in my six years of being at the University have I ever met, heard, or encountered a Commerce student who genuinely didn’t think or was told in a lecture that capitalism was the best economic framework for society, and that the only way to deal with debt or financial troubles was cuts to public goods and services. I’ve met several Commerce students who love to yap on about how much they hate socialism and government spending. Well, if government spending assists universities, and you’re all sluts for the free market, then shouldn’t the Business School become a privatised entity? It doesn’t make a lot of sense for you to be taking money from the state when it appears you’re so vehemently against that. Commerce also destroys the original point of university education, anyway. University is a space for thinking, debating, critiquing, and considering how we can improve upon society. It’s not a place where Brad from Takapuna Grammar can drink his way through fees-free to come out with a BCom and get a consulting gig paying gross amounts of money. The fuck are you even “consulting” on at the age of 22? It seems that the commerce programs offer little space for critical thinking, philosophical discussion or political debate. The general logic appears to be “money good, tax bad, me Brad.” 
 
If the Business School is privatised and operates strictly like the business model it continuously promotes, that frees up a bit of cash to save the other subjects which are about to be plagued with mass redundancies, budget cuts, and a lack of resources. Lecturers across all disciplines get to keep their jobs, and as long as we live in a society which pushes the belief that you should go to university to become “employable” or people come to Otago just to have fun, then I have no doubt the Commerce degree enrolments will keep coming in. It’s a win-win, and it’s time to practise what you preach, motherfuckers. 
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2023.
Posted 11:54am Sunday 8th October 2023 by Annabelle Parata Vaughan.