Saturday, May 01, 2004

Sex, lies and academia

I’m puzzled by the lack of coverage that the Keith Lloyd/Shafston International College story has been getting south of the Tweed, especially in the Fairfax press. Okay, it’s a private college, strictly speaking, and the latest revelations are probably just another sordid instalment on/in the life of the businessman-property developer Lloyd.

But what about Shafston’s affiliation with the University of New England? Surely they alone make the story at least as national as this one about the University of Western Sydney lecturer who allegedly traded sex for grades.

In a statement from UNE's acting vice-chancellor Randall Albury, the university distanced itself from the allegations, Mr Lloyd and the international college. Professor Albury said the university provided some academic help to some of the college's diplomas. He said the report did not suggest that any UNE students had been involved in the allegations.

That no UNE-at-Shafston student was involved would seem to have been the result of good luck only. UNE's “distancing”, note, does not in any way seek to unwind the current contractual arrangements between the two institutions, a legal relationship which was no doubt arranged and concluded between UNE’s reps and Keith Lloyd personally.

Maybe UNE’s easy ride through the southern print media has something to do with the intercessions of Sydney-based firm Hawker Britton, which Shafston’s council has retained to manage the crisis. It is an interesting question whether UNE has got its own PR representation.

In any event, UNE, and/or its PR reps, may care to answer this: What type of conduct by the CEO of an affiliated institution would it take to rescind the relationship? Personally, my mind boggles – but for UNE, the Keith Lloyd “distancing” seems to be just an ordinary (repeat?) case of washing-off the fleas it has got from lying down with a dog.

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