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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 7. 1965.

A Second View

A Second View

Lecturer in Asian Studies

Professor Brookes has admirably stated the case for the diffusion of Asian Studies throughout Victoria and I would fully support his programme—an ambitious and expensive one if seriously implemented—if I also believed that the authorities were willing to undertake the necessary financial commitment from New Zealand funds.

To have Asian specialists, or even specialists from Asia, working in the social science departments at the university would indeed be desirable provided they might be found in sufficient numbers. The difficulties that the University has encountered in even obtaining a "Director" to dissolve the Department and establish a Centre are publicly known and there is no guarantee that other Asian specialists would be forthcoming any sooner.

Although "six academic staff" attached to the Centre but teaching in other Departments may sound impressive at first glance, since they would normally constitute the teaching strength of a "medium-size department," all this becomes much less interesting when it is recognised that these six members will be engaged "in general teaching in addition to … Asian teaching." Moreover, "most teaching" would be done in a social science department, and not necessarily in Asian Studies at all, so that actual teaching strength may even be further reduced as far as Asian Studies is concerned. Six third or quarter-time staff cannot offer the programme of three full-time departmental staff.

Besides, students would have to take courses in three or four different social science departments before they could obtain the courses they wanted in Asian Studies. Most of the other social science departments offer their Asian courses only at the Stage III level, which would mean that students would have to take Stages I and II of a particular discipline before they could do any work on Asia. This whole concept denies that Asian Studies is an independent discipline and relegates it to a sub-departmental specialty.

Perhaps as many students would be taking some courses in Asian Studies but no student would find it feasible under these circumstances to undertake a full programme, and the likelihood of any student taking as many as three courses would be further minimised by the disciplinary screening process. And even with all these precautions there is no guarantee that one of the social science departments will not still come up with a lecturer offering a course on some Asian subject who is neither an Asian specialist nor a specialist from Asia. This is already the case in one department.

But seriously, would Professor Brookes for one moment countenance the suggestion that political science be dissolved as a department and that a Political Science Centre be established instead? If he believes in this approach, then why not have such a Centre established with himself as the Director while political science is taught in the various social science departments: Asian Studies (Asian Governments); Geography (Geopolitics or Political Geography); Economics (Political Economy); Sociology (Political Sociology), and Education (Educational Administration)?

As for the Hayter Report, I find that its recommendations for British universities with its substantial half-and-half matching grants are quite irrelevant to the situation at Victoria University, where no provision is made for language programmes, adequate salaries, staffing, travel grants, etc.—all an integral part of the Hayter Committee's very thoroughgoing inquiry. One cannot proceed with the Hayter Committees recommendations by picking out its inter-disciplinary approach (more suited to graduate study) and then neglect the rest of the programme which is all or a piece.

In the meantime both student and staff morale have been undermined regarding the future of Asian Studies at this university by the ambiguous announcement in the Calendar and the calculated continuation of a policy of phasing out Asian Studies at this university before a new programme was phased in. Thus it is surprising that our present enrolment of 61 students is as good as it is, despite the fact that the Calendar does everything but shout: "Don't join a sinking ship!" Since many students enrolling in Asian Studies would want to go on beyond Stage I, the announcement that they were precluded from doing so meant that they had to abandon an Asian Studies programme.

However, the year 1964, with two staff members and 65 students (32.5 students to an instructor) does not compare unfavourably with the 1954 enrolment of the Political Science Department, which then had 100 students with six authorised staff or 16⅔ students to each instructor! From 1954 onwards, with adequate financial support, the Political Science Department at Victoria went on from strength to strength to a 1964 total of 283 students with eight faculty members.