An article advising students to “keep their head down” on the subject of academic advice from their professors is being withdrawn from the syllabus in some Australian universities, prompting a warning to teachers that students may be taking up their professor’s advice.
The Federal Government’s Office of Education has decided to change the guidance on the “Academic Warning” to warn students against taking up an academic advice that has been offered to them by their university.
The Australian Education Union’s academic guidance has been published in a number of journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, but the publication of the text in English has caused concern among some academics who are concerned that students might take up the advice without having received a copy.
In response to questions about the new guidance, Education Minister Peter Garrett said he was pleased to see that the guidance was being withdrawn and that students should have the option to take up an “academic advisory” that has already been given.
“I am delighted that the Commonwealth Government has decided that the Australian Government’s academic advisory guidance is no longer part of the Australian curriculum,” he said.
“In fact, the guidance now appears to be in a separate section of the curriculum, rather than in the Australian textbook and I am delighted to see this change.”
However, some of the students involved in the dispute said they were disappointed that their professors were being told to “stay the course” and that they were not receiving an “official” warning that they might be taking advice from a professor.
“There was a lot of concern about whether it was safe to teach a course that was based on the advice of a professor and now that the guidelines are being withdrawn, the students are being told that that’s just not the case,” said Andrew Wylie, a senior lecturer in Australian history at Curtin University in Perth.
“We don’t want to get ahead of the curve and take advice from professors.
We want to take advice that is reliable and appropriate.”
Mr Wyl.s students had already received an advisory from their university professor, and were encouraged to continue the course with him.
“It’s disappointing that they’re going to have to wait for the government to make a final decision on what they should do with this guidance,” he added.
“The students are very much supportive of what the government is doing, and they’re very happy that they can continue to study and do their research with their professors.”
In a statement, the Education Department said it was taking a “dilatory approach” in advising students and that it was in the process of withdrawing the advisory.
“Students have a right to choose their course of study based on their own professional judgement,” it said.
“It is important that students have a genuine and safe opportunity to study in a safe environment.”
It is a step that some students said was a good one, but others were disappointed the guidance had been withdrawn.
“This is really disappointing for the students and for the department,” said Ms Wyl, who is also an English lecturer.
“But the more people are being informed about what’s going on, the better.”
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