Within universities there has always been a degree of tension between the humanities and the sciences. They attract very different people to their ranks and go about their work in very different ways. Perhaps the most fundamental difference, however, is that for Scientists, nature is the final arbiter of the validity of their research and thus, the knowledge base in their discipline. In contrast, the outcome of research in the humanities is eternally contested. There is no impartial umpire available to make a final decision, which has had the effect of making all ideas equal. Scientists have always felt a little smug about this state of affairs and quite reasonably felt that those with humanities credentials would remain peripheral to science. It has therefore come as a great shock to many science academics to find the teaching of their disciplines substantially hamstrung by the latest theories about learning and teaching emanating from Education and Social Science departments.
While pre-tertiary education is the obvious starting point for furthering the social justice agenda, university leaders have invoked the social justice mantra to justify their decision to lower the rigour and standard of courses. Much to the chagrin of the social justice engineers, however, none of this has made much difference to the university student demographic. The statistics show that while more people than ever are being awarded university degrees, the government‟s review of the first year demographic (The First Year Experience in Australian Universities: Findings from a Decade of National Studies) shows that changes are largely due to the vast increase in the number of foreign (predominantly Indian and Chinese) undergraduate students. More important, but routinely ignored, is the finding that poor pre-tertiary grounding is the major barrier to success at university. This would not surprise most people, as they would understand intuitively that university is not the place to attempt a reversal of twelve or so years of educational damage. To argue, however, for the maintenance of what we might call traditional or conventional education standards, is to invite contempt and derision from the social justice warriors and shrill cries of “elitist”. If reality doesn‟t agree with education theory, then reality will just have to go elsewhere. Rational analysis is not an option.