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### Law School Dean Resigns Following Series of Failures

Apr 1, 2024 – 2.51pm

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The leader of the preeminent law school in Australia has stepped down from his position amidst a series of grievances raised by students regarding mismanagement and administrative shortcomings.

Matthew Harding relinquished his role as the dean of Melbourne Law School on Monday to resume his duties as a professor and academic staff member.

The university announced that Matthew Harding will now concentrate on his academic responsibilities.

Professor Harding, a distinguished scholar with a doctoral degree from Oxford University specializing in charity and non-profit law, faced backlash due to a year marked by administrative mishaps.

During this period, students encountered delays in receiving exam results without any clarification, were denied access to lecture recordings under extenuating circumstances, faced reprimands from exam invigilators, and encountered difficulties enrolling in elective courses due to limited availability, leading to some students being unable to fulfill their degree requirements.

In a recent communication to the faculty and students, acting dean Jenny Morgan emphasized the school’s commitment to addressing the significant challenges arising from assessment processes and other issues affecting the student experience.

Melbourne Law School holds the top position in Australia based on its research contributions. However, students expressed concerns about the escalating student-to-staff ratio, which surged by 33 percent from 2019 to the present year, placing immense strain on the faculty.

Melbourne Law School is ranked eighth globally in the and eleventh in the QS World University Rankings by subject. It stands as the highest-ranked law school outside the United States and the United Kingdom in both rankings.

A spokesperson from Melbourne University announced that Professor Harding’s decision to step down aims to refocus on his professorial duties within the Melbourne Law School to prioritize his academic endeavors.

Professor Morgan will assume the interim dean role while the university deliberates on future leadership arrangements.

Students, many of whom pay annual tuition fees of \(43,650 or \)137,000 for a juris doctor degree, expressed frustration over persistent administrative lapses within their program.

One international student recounted being assigned an additional exam after experiencing a panic attack during the initial exam due to a seating mix-up and receiving the wrong paper. Furthermore, they were asked to change seats during the exam, adding to the distress.

Despite attempts to contact the faculty, the student struggled to locate information regarding the supplementary exam.

Following coverage in The Australian Financial Review in mid-February, Professor Harding addressed students, acknowledging the concerns raised about the student experience in recent weeks.

“As the dean, I offer my sincere apologies for our failure to deliver the exceptional educational experience you rightfully expect from us in all aspects of your studies,” Professor Harding expressed.

“I am fully committed to implementing substantial enhancements across various areas, particularly in assessment administration, result dissemination, scheduling, and course enrollments.”

He stressed the importance of actively listening to student feedback regarding their educational journey.

Julie is the Education editor, bringing over two decades of experience as a writer, journalist, and editor. Stay connected with Julie on . Reach out to Julie via email at

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