Claims VU’s maths cut doesn’t add up

In the article “Claims VU’s maths cut doesn’t add up” in yesterday’s Australian by Andrew Trounson, comes the disturbing news that the draft “change plan” at Victoria University (part of its larger plan of voluntary and targeted redundancies to address its budgetary shortfall) will cut mathematics staff in the School of Engineering and Science (which was a recent merger of the engineering, computer science, and mathematics schools) in half from ten to five, while only reducing mathematics teaching by ten percent (and for some majors, such as engineering, the mathematics requirements are in fact going up).  It appears that the administration is hoping to use casuals or faculty from other departments to take on much of the service mathematics teaching.  While it is somewhat positive to see that the nominal amount of mathematics teaching is not being severely cut, the effect of the proposed staff cuts on the quality of that teaching, and on the workloads of the staff, are likely to be negative.

The parallels with the situation at the University of Southern Queensland last year are rather striking in this regard.  It is worth noting that the USQ administration eventually had to advertise several mathematics and statistics positions to cover their teaching, due to the number of staff leaving either voluntarily or involuntarily during their restructuring process.  Hopefully the VU administrative process will not be as short-sighted.

As with USQ, the cuts seem to be disproportionately falling on mathematics;  back in October it announced a plan to eliminate 250 staff campus-wide, including about a quarter of the academic staff.  The cuts seem to be prompted in part by a drop in computer science enrollments (which are aggregated into the mathematics enrollment statistics); a change plan for that department is supposed to appear soon.  (Ironically, the computer science masters program, which has seen one of the larger drops in enrollment, has a negligible mathematics requirement.)

Victoria University is home, among other things, to the Research Group in Mathematical Inequalities and Applications (RGMIA), as one of its specialist Research Centres in the Faculty of Health, Engineering, and Science research, and which publishes the Journal of Inequalities in Pure and Applied Mathematics; in December 2007, it was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Peak Award for Excellence in Research and Research Training.  It is proposed that the RGMIA is to lose a professor and lecturer position, with three full time teaching staff being cut from the rest of the department.

If any readers have any further news to share on this story, or more links and information to supplement the ones in this post, it would be great if they could be posted as a comment here.

[Update, June 17: see also this analysis of the mathematics change plan by Alasdair McAndrew, one of the staff at the VU maths department.  And here is an opinion by a VU student in computer science and maths.]

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23 Responses

  1. It is not good for math community. In these days this particular field is spreadining its wings over almost all the technical and real world problems.
    Its unfortunate.

  2. That is not a good ideea. Thing twice before you act in this direction!

  3. It is normal that mathematicians lose control since mathematics has no colour but it is everywhere any way.
    I do understand to situation but I see it as a normal thing.
    It is better to change the department by institute of research and teaching so that it will have its value.

  4. I strongly support the RGMIA staff. It will be a shame for the Australian Government to let this reduction happens.
    RGMIA papers means too much for the rest of the world’s mathematicians.

  5. I support RGMIA staff,the papers publish by RGMIA are very interesting and useful.

  6. I support RGMIA staff,the papers publish by RGMIA are very useful.

  7. Cutting math jobs due to the economy is a short term fix sure to be accompanied by long term harm! If anything you need more math-literate people around in this modern economy. Math is the language of science and economics.

    Instead of letting go of these highly skilled folks from their job, why not think up ways of applying their skills to create more jobs instead?

  8. I strongly support RGMIA staff,the papers publish by RGMIA are very interesting and useful.

    A.Ghazanfari
    Lorestan university
    Iran

  9. I am shocked to hear this. How can VU possibly cut the funding for a center of excellence like RGMIA? On one hand they are apprecaiting RGMIA by awarding it the Vice Chanellor’s award and on the other hand they are unwilling to support it. As far as I know RGMIA is one of the reasons why mathematicians know Victoria University. I hope the university sensibly decides to let RGMIA run the way it has and continue with the good work it has done.

  10. I support RGMIA staff,the papers publish by RGMIA are very interesting and useful.It is shameful for the Australian Government to let this reduction happens.

  11. A university is not a supermarket. She should not go along with her customers’ likes or dislikes. Instead, she has a mission to see what the need for a better tomorrow of the society is, and to take the lead and tell the people what is good for them. In this era, everywhere in the world recognizes the utmost importance of scientific and mathematical researches. Australia should be no exception.

  12. I came across VU due to RGMIA.The dynamics of this Research Group is outstanding.I do not agree with the downgrading of the staff.

  13. Dear
    I am really shocked that VU is going to cut funding of RGMIA.
    I have spent six months in VU with RGMIA staff. I am proud that I have learnt from RGMIA and now I am Ph.D due to RGMIA Professors like Dragomir and all others. The publications from RGMIA are world class. I can not under stand why this type of research is going to be stopped (by force) by cutting its funding.
    Please save research and don’t cut the funding of RGMIA.

    Farooq Ahmad
    Centre for Advanced Studies in Pure and Applied Mathematics, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, 60800, Pakistan

    Presently Posted at
    Department of Mathematics
    Government Post Graduate College Bhakkar 30000, Punjab, Pakistan
    Cell # +92 333 6842936
    Home # +92 453 327236
    Office # +92 453 9200022

  14. Casual teachers can bring a wealth of real world experience and are not necessarily bad. However, I believe that a committed knowledgeable full timer is better. VU still has some way to go about understanding the priorities for budgeting, but I hope they work it through.

  15. I strongly support RGMIA staff. Further, the papers published by RGMIA are very interesting and useful.
    Now RGMIA has contribute very much to development of Mathematics.

    I am sure that RGMIA will be one of the best Research Groups for Mathematics very soon.

  16. RGMIA has worst type of research. These old professors have very good connections with USA faculties like R.N. Mohapatra. The paper standard in this journal is very poor. It is better to stop funding RGMIA and please reduce the staff in Mathematics at VU. Thanks to the Australian Goverment…..

  17. The RGMIA has very prro research and publishing existing results in the journal with minor modifications. Please, cut the wing of RGMIA and reduce their staff strength at earliest… Prof. Dragomir is the biggest fraud. How one can publish 20/30 papers in a year ??? Stupid community !!!!

  18. I stongly agreed with the views of Jain and Zing. The point of views of People like Cho, Farooq, etc. are not correct. I found many basic mistakes in the papers of this field and in Dragomir papers.

  19. JIPAM is a third class journal, and this should be stoped now. Overall there is a list of papers of Dragomir in JIPAM and RIGMIA .

  20. I found many mistakes apperaed in the papers of inequalities.

  21. papers published for inequalities are wrong and third class, specifically from Australia, Romania, Crotia, pakistan, China.

  22. Hmmm. I’m smelling a rat. All of the sudden a seemingly concerted opposition to this journal show up and try to flood the comment session with accusation of the journal’s inferiority. That sound pretty political to me….

    • I am very sorry to say about:

      What is happing around?

      RGMIA is a reputed platform and all Journals related to the field of inequalities are very well reputed. I will just talk about work from Pakistan. Including my self all of my colleagues belong to Pakistan are thankful to RGMIA for giving us the opportunity to work with them on this important field. Moreover very reputed people like Sir S P Singh, Sir V LK, Sir Th M Raissias, Sir Lj B Ciric, Sir Cho, Sir Ravi P Agarwal, Sir Pecaric, , Sir B S Lee, Sir Aslam Noor and many other honorable names (I doubt if the list is complete) are associated with this group.

      From 2002, I am reading and working about the field of inequalities and it is Prof. Dragomir who provided us the valuable literature through RGMIA which was never possible before this, specifically for Countries belong to third world.

      Finally I hope that, this kind of nonsense and stupid activities should be stopped.

      My Best Regards

      Dr M M Arif Rafiq

      Dept. of Mathematics

      COMSATS, Lahore, Pakistan

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