Humanities enrolments falling mean fewer in retail

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The University has seen a 1.9 per cent decline in enrolments from 2012 to 2013, with the decline “overwhelmingly concentrated in the Division of Humanities” according to the 2013 End of Year Financial Review. The drop in humanities students accounted for 83 per cent of the overall drop in student numbers at the University over the past two years, down five per cent from 19,568 equivalent full time students (EFTS) in 2011 to 18,600 last year.

The Division of Humanities includes subjects such as law, english, media and politics, as well as the College of Education. Professor Brian Moloughney, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Humanities, says the subjects “develop transferable skills that are fundamental in a wide range of occupations.”

The most significant decline within the Division has been in the College of Education. This is due to the “scheduled conclusion of a major teacher education contract with the Malaysian government,” as well as a reduction in the number of domestic enrolments entering the teacher education programmes.

Moloughney says there was not a “significant decline” in Bachelor of Arts enrolments overall, although “it is too early to talk about 2014 enrolments at this time.”

Commerce enrolments were down marginally, while enrolments in the Divisions of Health Sciences and Sciences had increased. The number of students enrolled in the Division of Health Sciences surpassed humanities in 2012 and continues to rise. Moloughney does not appear concerned with the drop, saying “enrolments fluctuate from year to year for a variety of reasons.”

Despite the fall in numbers last year, the Division had a favourable variance of $1.646 million (3.4 per cent). This was mainly due to a donation to the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which will be used to fund salaries beyond 2013 and the unbudgeted income received for continuing commercial contracts. Individual departments also made the effort to make savings, which contributed to the favourable variance.

Moloughney explains the importance of studying humanities, saying that they “develop informed and critical citizens” and “foster social justice and equality.” He says “they encourage us to think creatively, and to deal critically with subjective, complex and imperfect information. The humanities reveal how people have tried to make sense of the world in the past and teach empathy for others.”
This article first appeared in Issue 4, 2014.
Posted 2:59pm Sunday 16th March 2014 by Josie Cochrane.