SRC President’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1 2018

SRC President
Imogen Grant

On Wednesday March 21, your SRC will be protesting with students across the state and the country in the National Day of Action. This NDA, called by your National Union of Students, has a demand to ‘Fund Books not Bombs’. This is because the Liberals are intent on cutting $2.2 billion from universities whilst, at the same time, providing a $3.8 billion handout to weapons manufacturers.

These changes constitute a significant attack on students who are already struggling to make ends meet and pay back their debts. Australian students already pay amongst the highest fees in the OECD to attend a public university where we have the second lowest level of public investment in the tertiary system.

With funding increases from 2020 being in accordance to performance indicators, such as retention, we will see the standards and viability of regional and remote universities eroding. No longer would a degree from any member our public university system have standing locally and internationally.

The interests of the university are also shifting towards working for private and corporate interests – not only in the form of research partnerships, but also by abandoning the civic role of universities and focusing solely on accrediting graduates for work in the private sector. Despite the turn towards ‘industry relevant’ degrees, we still see thousands of graduates struggling to find work or working in dead-end jobs.

The violence of the contemporary university is also seen in a radical change in the experience of those at university: precarious employment for casual staff, the measure of workload, a competitive and performance based experience, student stress and anxiety, enormous class sizes and so on.

In today’s higher education sector, Vice-Chancellors are re-cast as CEOs with salaries over one million dollars. These VCs are accountable to university senates, which far from being places of student and staff democratic governance are more akin to corporate boards of management overseeing the operation of large enterprises. We see military, pharmaceutical, biotech and fossil fuel industries wdriving commercial research and learning agendas. At the de facto privatised university, degrees and research are products for sale; students are consumers; and academics are entrepreneurs and service providers.

So fight back against cuts to higher education sector and the sordid state of universities. Come out and protest at 1pm on the New Law Lawns on March 21! Follow the link here for the Facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/108878696574470/

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

As our way of welcoming you to the new year, we’ve put together a list of all the things you need to know to get through the year, and a bit of info about how to get involved with us!