Last Monday evening Sydney university hosted the Town Hall style meeting to discuss the wider university community’s thoughts on fee deregulation and the other proposed attacks to higher education currently on the liberals agenda.
The consensus was overwhelming; out of 26 speakers comprised of various staff member, student representatives and alumni only one speaker spoke in open favour of fee deregulation (the speaker is also the the president of the NSW young Liberals so no surprises there). The other speakers shared moving stories of the struggle many students face in trying to access tertiary education, as well as addressing how fee deregulation will entrench a two- tiered US style education system.
This coupled with a student protest out the front of the meeting and heckling of the vice chancellor spread the message loud and clear: public opinion overwhelmingly opposes the neoliberal restructuring of our universities.
Despite all this, in the following days Vice Chancellor Michael Spence has proven what a sham his tightly orchestrated ‘consultation process’ is. He
has been singing the praises of deregulation in the media, and joined the other Group of Eight University Vice Chancellor’s in Canberra to lobby politicians currently opposed to the policy, which entered parliament last week.
Those heading the elite institutions have partnered up with Pyne in an attempt to attract only the most privileged students in society. Students at Sydney University will continue to protest not only the Abbott government, but our own VC as well, who has been responsible for a wave of attacks on staff and students in recent years.
The Education Action Group held a forum the following day to discuss the strengths of the campaign so far, and where we’re heading next. Senate member Verity Firth addressed the forum, reiterating the detrimental effect deregulation will have on equal access to higher education, as well as highlighting the current inequalities entrenched in the Australian education system.
National education officer Sarah Garnham also spoke about the national campaign, and in particular the leading role that Sydney has played, through active campus Education Action Groups and the NSW Education Action Network.
As the legislation is debated in parliament in coming weeks, students will continue to protest to defend our education. If you would like to get involved with the campaign, come along to the EAG meetings every Tuesday at 2pm on the new law lawns, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2014 Education Officers