A Brisbane university has defended challenging its advertising students to create an election campaign for the LNP candidate running against Kevin Rudd in the seat of Griffith.
One second-year Queensland University of Technology student, who wished to remain anonymous, said he thought the Media Planning assignment was a hypothetical until Dr Bill Glasson personally came to a class on Thursday.
“It just seemed like we were too close to the campaign,” he told Fairfax Media.
“At the end of his speech, the lecturer mentioned that assignments she thought were the best would be passed onto the client, which seemed quite fishy to me.”
The anonymous student, who says he’s not aligned to any political party, said Dr Glasson talked about needing an 8 per cent swing to win Griffith from Mr Rudd.
“It felt cheap, like university students being used as a sweatshop for a party that quite simply can’t communicate with the younger generation.”
Dr Glasson told Fairfax Media he was invited by Business School lecturer Louise Kelly.
“We were talking socially and she said she wouldn’t mind doing a real-life exercise, would you mind giving a talk, and I said no, I’m happy to come down,” Dr Glasson said.
Dr Glasson said the idea was to engage 18 to 25 year olds, whom he described as either disinterested in politics, or turned off by negative campaigning.
“So the exercise was if you were going to market someone like Bill Glasson, for instance, how would you reach those 18 to 25 year olds?” he said.
“It was purely an academic exercise, we had the one visit, and don’t plan to go back again - the students can go off and do what they like in terms of what they want to develop,” Dr Glasson said.
The Executive Dean of QUT’s Business School said it linked students with representatives from a broad range of industries to ensure coursework had “real world” relevance.
“The completion of an assignment for third-year advertising students is an exercise in advertising budgeting, not in politics, and will not involve the development of creative content,” Professor Robina Xavier said.
“As is always the case with this type of coursework, the best assignments are offered to the “client” but only with the approval of the students concerned.''
Dr Glasson said he hadn’t asked for access to the assignments.
“Of course I’d love to see the results, they’re young, they’re bright, you’d be an idiot not to want to hear what they have to say,'' he said.
“But I know I have no entitlement to them.”
Fairfax Media has sought comment from Mr Rudd’s office.