Thursday, October 06, 2011

Aussie universities rate in world top 200

There are various ranking systems and they all have a degree of arbitrariness about them but it is pleasing to see Australian universities doing well again. America alone has around 7,000 such institutions so getting into the top 200 does mean something. I am personally pleased to see that three out of the four universities from which I have obtained qualifications are on the list. And given that my son is at ANU, their placing is pleasing too -- JR

SEVEN Australian universities have been named among a list of the world's top 200 higher education institutions.

The University of Melbourne is the highest placed Australian facility, in 37th place on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Leading the rankings is the California Institute of Technology, followed by fellow United States institutions Harvard University and Stanford University in equal second.

In an overall ranking of universities by country, Australia was placed seventh. A separate scale comparing universities relative to GDP sees Australia in 11th place and New Zealand 10th

Australia's second highest rating institution is the Australian National University (ANU) in equal 38th place, with the University of Sydney (58), University of Queensland (74), Monash University (equal 117), University of NSW (equal 173), and the University of Western Australia (equal 189).

New Zealand's University of Auckland gets a mention in equal 173th place.

Criteria such as teaching, research, innovation and international outlook were considered by researchers Thomson Reuters in compiling the 2011-2012 rankings. Each institution was ranked using a point-scoring system.


Teachers forced to act like police after court ruling

Stupid f*ckwit female judge perverts the course of justice

TEACHERS could be forced to warn students as young as 10 about their legal rights before counselling them after a remarkable court decision.

A 14-year-old boy who confessed to his teacher that he robbed a service station and stabbed the attendant with a knife, has been acquitted after the District Court refused to allow the teacher's statement into evidence because he had not "cautioned" the boy.

The Daily Telegraph reported it could change the way teachers and students relate to each other. NSW Teachers Federation President Bob Lips combe said: "This is potentially very serious for teachers".

"Teachers are expected to provide advice, assistance and counselling to young people on a daily basis and during the course of that, many things are disclosed to teachers. Most are fairly insignificant but often there are matters disclosed that are quite significant and in such cases teachers have never been advised that they can only act on information if they have previously cautioned the student," Mr Lipscombe said.

The federation was taking urgent legal advice, he said. "No teacher in the course of their work would caution students in the way this case states," he said. "Clearly this teacher did think he was doing the right thing and acting responsibly."

The history teacher, who cannot be named because it may identify the 14-year-old student, was also the boy's year adviser.

Soon after the boy enrolled at the high school mid-term last year, the teacher asked him how his previous day had gone and whether he would be returning this year. The boy said that it depended on the outcome of his upcoming court appearance. "I held up a servo and stabbed the attendant ... but the police have nothing on me," the boy said, according to Judge Helen Murrell.

The teacher spoke to the principal who urged him to talk to the Juvenile Justice officer who had helped the boy get a place at the school. The police were told and the teacher made a statement.

The boy's lawyers argued that he "was not issued with a caution" and that telling police was a breach of trust by the school.

Judge Murrell said that from the teacher's perspective, there was no confidentiality when students disclosed criminal matters, however this teacher usually forewarned them that if they disclosed crimes, he might have to take it further because he wanted them to feel confident about talking to him.

In this case he hadn't done so because he had no idea what the student was going to say, she said. She found the admission, while voluntary, had been obtained "unfairly" and refused to admit the statement into the boy's trial, held two weeks ago in Queanbeyan.


Vile speech law should be abolished

by: David Kemp

IF any comfort is to be found in the Andrew Bolt case it can only be that it will lead to the repeal of the law that declared his opinions illegal and not to be republished.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is contrary to the principle of freedom of speech that underpins our democracy, and we cannot afford to allow it to stand if we wish to preserve our freedom.

This is not simply a matter of facts being wrong. If it were, the case would have been conducted under defamation law.

Nor is it simply a matter of "bad journalism". Bad journalism of the category complained of here should not end up in a courtroom. It should be examined in the realm of public debate, as it has been until now in any society confident in its liberal democratic principles.

The person responsible for this law, Michael Lavarch, has justified it (The Australian, April 9) on the basis that "history tells us that overblown rhetoric on race fosters damaging racial stereotyping and this in turn can contribute to societal harm well beyond any deeply felt personal offence".

The former attorney-general reminds us that freedom of speech is not absolute, and in that he is correct. The law as it stands, apart from his act, does not permit perfect freedom to say anything. To say something that causes a riot, or is libellous or defames a person, or is misleading or deceptive in a commercial context is not permitted.

But his law goes well beyond these time-honoured exceptions. Let us substitute the word class for race in his statement, or the word religious, or the word gender, or the word national, or even the words politics and political. Lavarch's statement is true for each. Overblown rhetoric on any of these topics can create stereotypes, can cause offence, and if made the basis for action may lead on to damaging consequences.

It was not racial hatred but class hatred that raised the guillotine during the French Revolution, or when millions were starved and slaughtered in Stalin's attack on the "wealthy" peasants, or in Mao's collectivisation, or in his vicious Cultural Revolution, or in the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

But in democracies we have long known that it is not words that produce such horrors, it is the failure to expose prejudice, to control violence and ultimately it is the absence of democracy that leads to these catastrophes. Violence and incitement to violence are proper domains of the law, but this is not what this law is about.

Lavarch and his ilk tell us that what people say is potentially too dangerous to be left to the uncertain processes of freedom of speech and the sanctions of public opinion. What is needed, he says, is a government tribunal to counsel and warn, to secure retractions and ban republication like the medieval church. If his view is accepted then liberal democracy becomes a historical interlude between the ruling classes that preceded it and the bureaucracies and tribunals that Lavarch would apparently like to see replace it.

This is a truly grotesque process that has no relationship to our democratic tradition and, dare I say it, one contrary to the inalienable natural rights of people to freedom of speech, on the observance of which, ultimately, the legitimacy of the democratic state depends.

The law enunciated in the Bolt case seems to fall within the concerns expressed by US Supreme Court judge Louis Brandeis, when he said that "experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty, when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning, but without understanding."

The exact point was addressed in his famous essay, On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill, the strongest opponent of political correctness in his day, when he considered the argument being put by some at the time that "the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion".

Mill pointed out the "impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed". To make offence the test is to undermine the very freedom that can expose error. Mill then went on to say in words that may or may not apply to the present case: "If the test be offence to those whose opinions are attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever an attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, to be intemperate".

You may or may not agree with Bolt, and the judge has found that not all the facts in his articles were correct, but neither hurt nor accuracy have ever been seen as relevant in discussions of the principle of freedom of speech in our society.

In a democracy people are entitled to say what they want, regardless of who is offended, and whether their facts are correct or incorrect.

If they are wrong, others will refute them. We do not need Lavarch's tribunals and courts to teach us how to be good democrats.

The processes of this law I find obscene in the full meaning of the words: offensive, loathsome, ill-omened, disgusting.

The law that has made these events possible must be abolished as soon as possible.


Homosexual passports coming to Australia too

It's already happening in Britain

GAY parents could win the right to not be referred to as a mum or dad, but instead 'parent 1' or 'parent 2' in passport applications. They would have the option of choosing "parent 1" and "parent 2", instead of mother and father, under a proposal being considered by the Government for its new electronic passport application system.

Gay rights groups applauded the potential for gender-neutral forms in Australia, but family groups expressed concern.

Australian Family Association spokeswoman Terri Kelleher said the move undermined the traditional family model. "It would break down the understanding of a family and family relationships; how long until they just use parent one and parent two?" she said.

Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Sarah Rogan said it would be a "progressive" step for same-sex couples. "It would reflect the make-up of families across Australia," she said. "It would also be beneficial for children to see that their family is considered a family."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposal stemmed from problems same-sex parents had when filling out forms on behalf of children. "Feedback from same-sex parents of minor passport applicants has highlighted difficulties they have experienced when completing parental consent sections of passport applications," a statement said.

"Consideration is being given to include parent 1/parent 2 alongside the mother/father fields as part of a proposed electronic enrolment facility for passports."Britain will make a similar change by December after pressure from gay lobby groups, while the US this year dropped mother and father from passport applications to reflect "different types of families".

The proposal comes after recent changes allowing transsexual Australians to carry passports in their preferred gender without the need for a sex change.

Australian Bureau of Statistics available show that in 2006, 50,000 people were living in a same-sex couple relationships. But the report said this was expected to be a conservative figure.

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said it was a sign of the times and reflected changes in modern families.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Parent 1, meet Parent 2. Sounds thrilling, like a Public Service job description.