Big news at the Herald Sun? One of the most prominent journalists in sports-mad Melbourne, Herald Sun chief football writer Mike Sheahan, announced his retirement from the daily news grind yesterday. But is it a mere coincidence the 64-year-old is stepping back as the Herald Sun apparently targets older workers for redundancy, as one insider told us last week? As as another Herald and Weekly Times mole whispered: “Lots of shoulder tapping going on at the moment, and they’re offering only payouts rather than proper redundancies.” We’ve also been told to expect a “big announcement” from incoming News Limited CEO Kim Williams on Monday.

There’s no bear in there for Carols. From the 3AW Rumour File: “Humphrey says there will be no Humphrey B Bear at Carols by Candlelight this year.” Outrageous — what’s Christmas without Humphrey? We contacted Channel Nine for more but we’re yet to hear back. Rest assured we’ll stay on the case.

Purge in the NSW public service? “Regarding your story on Victoria,” writes one reader, “when is somebody going to write a story on the slow, quiet purge of the senior ranks of the NSW public sector?” Well, we’re happy to. Tell us more …?

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State Trustees: where Xmas goes to die. Yes, as we reported yesterday, the Christmas Party at Victoria’s State Trustees’ office has been cancelled, we’re reliably informed. And replaced with a cocktail party — at $55 a head. “Staff morale is abysmal,” says one source, “and they’re dropping like flies.”

University bullying: the cases mount. We’ve been a sounding board for students and staff who say they’ve suffered harassment on university campuses, beginning with our tip on the apparently ugly culture in some sections of the University of Sydney. Another inside writers today:

“Not only are students yelled at, University of Sydney staff are also yelled at in committee meetings and the table thumped by the most senior business academic. A strange form of argument in an academic establishment. The management bullying also includes freezing out staff by ignoring them. Needless to say, I stayed just long enough to take voluntary redundancy and restore my health and well being.”

But claims of particular harassment towards Asian students don’t stack up, according to a postgraduate coursework student at the university’s Business School:

“I have not seen any lecturers yelling. I have seen a tutor spelling out very clearly that plagiarism is unacceptable at this university, and repeatedly explaining in simple language what plagiarism is. This message seems to be particularly directed at Asian international students. This tutor was emphasising the cultural differences and in my opinion was being helpful and pragmatic rather than intimidatory — most of the room were international students and no individual was singled out. I don’t think this was out of place. I would be very unsurprised if international students make up a very large proportion of academic dishonesty cases. Firstly, international students make up a large proportion of students. Secondly, the standards for entry (for all races) seems to be too low — a lot of very dumb people are accepted into postgraduate courses. Perhaps more internationals take advantage of this than locals, perhaps because locals don’t need to do a course in order to live here. Thirdly, there do appear to be cultural differences regarding plagiarism. In one of my courses, a fellow group member put more effort into tracking down copies of previous assignments on the same topic than he put into actually doing group work.”

Students and staff from other universities are coming forward with their own stories. This from an inside at the Australian National University in Canberra:

“Not so much blatant bullying but one of the larger colleges has seen a plummet in staff morale due entirely to the bean counters being put in charge. If voluntery redundancies were called for or retirement incentives on offer there would be a stampede for the exit.”

And at the University of South Australia:

“There’s rampant institutionalised bullying at the UniSA where competent, long-serving loyal staff are being removed under a facade of ‘due process’ which is actually better described as psychological warfare. Meanwhile, the same academics have turned a blind eye to a senior lecturer’s inappropriate relationship with his supervised PhD candidate and who actually wrote the PhD.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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