Economics provides training in logical thought and analysis which can be applied widely in every-day decision making, not just to matters which are usually labelled "economic". The underlying philosophy of our teaching and research program is that a rapidly changing world requires adaptable analytical skills. Accordingly, its aim is to prepare our students with a wide range of career options that are readily adapted to the issues of the day. These may be positions in industry, government, or in non-government and international organisations.
The Department of Economics: A brief history
The term “Monash Economics” came into widespread usage in the 1970’s. It connoted liveliness and rigour and an emphasis on the policy implication of economics and was a recognition of the meteoric rise of a new grouping of quality economists. Under the direction of its founding Dean, Donald Cochrane, himself a distinguished economist, economics at Monash had undergone a remarkably successful take-off from 1961, the year when the University opened for business.
By 1965, there were 23 economists on site including many of the best recent postgraduates in Australia. The Department already had a reputation in Victorian schools for the quality of its teaching. The appointment of a number of professors in the second half of the 1960’s then further enhanced its status by adding to the research capability of the team and led to further diversity of fields of study.
By 1973, the Faculty of Economics and Politics was perceived to have reached such a size as to call for division into smaller administrative units. Up to the time, Economics had been only one of a number of subject areas included under the one umbrella. Accounting had become a major part of the faculty and there was some smaller attention given to other business-related subjects. In addition, econometrics, a particular Monash strength, and its close relative, operations research, as well as economic history had developed into semi-independent specialties. In the resulting make-over, the Department of Economics emerged as a leaner version of the original but one that was recognised, nationally and overseas, as one of the country’s foremost centres of economic research and teaching.
In these circumstances, the department was well placed to weather the worsening external environment, which became apparent in the 1980’s. Governmental largesse towards universities began to take a backward turn. The universities were now suffering for their dependence for funding on a Commonwealth Government attempting to reconcile the political pressure to increase the number of university students with the financial need for budget constraint. Partly as a result of the funds raised by the faculty from the admission of overseas students, the Department met these challenges with some success but a worsening in the ratio of student to staff numbers was unavoidable.
The period since the mid 1990’s has been one of adjustment to the implications of the spectacular expansion of Monash through the acquisition of new campuses. In 1993, the Clayton faculty was amalgamated with the Faculty of Business on the Caulfield campus of the University. As a result of this and some prior actions of the University, the department became dispersed over six campuses in Victoria. From this emerged a new undergraduate degree structure with important implications for the department. The immediate effect was to reduce the number of students with a flow-on to reduced staffing. By the turn of the century, student numbers had recovered somewhat but not evenly across the campuses. Nevertheless, the Department has successfully adjusted to the new situation and through a number of new appointments, has effected a generational change, which bodes well for its future.