An Interview with Flint O’Neil: Main Tutor of Microeconomics 3

None of the views represented in this article represent the view of the ANU or staff at the ANU.

In response to criticism surrounding Microeconomics courses ECON2101 and ECON3101, ANU Observer released an article discussing students’ concerns with the course and convenor – Damien Eldridge. Some of the concerns discussed were a poor teaching quality and a lack of effort.  

Woroni sat down with head tutor Flint O’Neil to discuss the course and its convenor, and his concerns about the public opinion of the course and the potential spread of false information.

 O’Neil said that one of the main criticisms of the course is that Eldridge does not “put enough effort in.” His view was that this was misinformed. According to O’Neil, Eldridge puts “some of the most effort of all the lecturers.” He claims that at times he would be in his office until midnight writing lecture notes. Eldridge also provides students with examples in the lectures with typed solutions. He claims that this criticism “falls flat.” He also provides forums for students to raise concerns and ask questions regarding course content.

O’Neil concedes that Microeconomics 3 is an inherently difficult course. He claims that “some topics are intrinsically tedious and boring” and involve significantly more maths than its counterpart Macroeconomics. A lot of the concerns about the course stem from its difficulty. However, O’Neil claims that this is purely due to its nature as a maths based discipline. Macroeconomics, in comparison, generally scores highly on SELT reviews. O’Neil puts this down to the fact that there is little to no maths involved, and it is much easier as it uses outdated models. The difficulty of the course puts Eldridge in a difficult position. He has to maintain a high quality of teaching while making it reasonable for his students. 

 According to O’Neil, Eldridge is not perfect, however he provides a high quality of teaching for his cohort. He says “I don’t understand why he gets so much hate because there are definitely worse lecturers … he’s not so much hated as he is polarising.”  Part of the issue stems from inherent biases that exist within the ANU. O’Neil says that previous complaints about the course have been embedded in the ANU culture, particularly within the Economics department. Accordingly, “he is in the difficult position of pushing back against the trend towards easier courses.”

The course content is difficult, however there is room for questions and concerns. O’Neil says that the people who struggle with the course are generally those that complain and do not engage fully with the course. 

O’Neil wishes to certify that none of his views represent those of the ANU or its staff. 

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