The neoliberal financialisation of university education has been shameful. The Whitlam Government’s acknowledgement of the principle that, subject to suitable entry qualifications, education should be secular and free at university level was reversed in one fell swoop.

How to make the system pay for itself has had demeaning repercussions on universities.

Bureaucrats were set at the top of university life to reinforce the program. Gone were days of a university education for education’s sake and the turning out of well qualified graduates. This was now a commercial arrangement that would ‘benefit the nation, finally putting universities back in their rightful non-privileged place’.

Fees were levied, the arts necessarily fined for their inappropriateness in relation to the sciences. Overseas students would be required to pay significantly higher fees to help commercialise this arrangement. If adhering to the doctrine of university financialisation meant that some Australian students would miss out on a place, so be it.

University departments would establish their bona fides and commitment to the system by seeking out joint arrangements with commercial bodies to engage with the university on research projects that would further national progress.

The research, of course, would steer well clear of any study that might demonstrate the setup to be a nonsensical commercialisation of university education and a blot on academia.