UNIVERSITIES are value-free zones and need to reassert the primary purpose of education, building the ethical and moral character of students, a Sydney vice-chancellor has said.
At an inaugural annual oration last night at Macquarie University, the university's vice-chancellor, Steven Schwartz, said he wanted a return to education's ''ancient roots''.
He said the rector of St Andrews University in 1867, the British philosopher John Stuart Mill, correctly identified the object of universities was "not to make skilful lawyers, or physicians, or engineers, but capable and cultivated human beings''.
To address this educational philosophy, all new Macquarie undergraduates would be required to study arts, humanities and science subjects as well as work in the community.
Right...to produce graduates with values, pump a couple of Arts subjects into them.
Hmm, that'll work...not! Sadly I can still remember lectures from uni days including unnecessarily sexually explicit Psychology lectures; Sociology lectures where it was insisted as an article of faith that "human nature is an idiot notion"; Philosophy tutorials where a philosophers' god that no-one believed in anyway was soundly disproved; and reading articles for essays which suggested new and interesting ways of diminishing professional responsibility. Benefit of these things for developing healthy values? Nil.
Benefit of attending campus Bible studies for thinking about how to treat others better? Priceless!
Actually the dopey things said in Psychology and Sociology subjects did provide some really good opportunities for evangelism, including running a couple of tutorials explaining the gospel.