This month saw deregulation dropped by the Turnbull government, in what should be recognised as a massive victory for students everywhere. This is the result of a sustained campaign against fee deregulation and further cuts to higher education funding. Higher education policy has not been championed by any political party, they only ever respond to public pressure, opposition and dissent, so congratulations should go to all the community groups that changed hearts and minds, who campaigned and rallied and ensured fee deregulation would not be pushed through. We’re seeing significant institutions like Universities Australia drop their support of fee deregulation after years of public pressure, and that’s a huge moment for the student movement.
Michael Spence went to Sydney Morning Herald recently, sensing that deregulation was not long for the Turnbull government, pleading that the government not rule out student fee hikes. This bold article of spin must have pleased the university overlords because not long after its release, Michael Spence, our own Vice Chancellor, was elected chair of Group of Eight Australia, and was praised for his “energetic commitment”. This is big news for this campus, because while Michael Spence has always been one of the more aggressive Vice Chancellors in backing the government’s reforms, the University of Sydney has been able to mobilise great numbers of students.
Following a cross campus meeting we held last week, which was initially planned to nail fee deregulation’s coffin but became about the direction of the campaign over this next period where an immediate attack does not exist, it’s been decided that the priority for the rest of the year should be on campus, where those immediate threats do exist. This includes attacks like the removal of simple extensions, the fact that students are being pursued even harder for plagiarism, concurrent with an incredibly aggressive proposed restructure of the university.
It was great to hear that the restructure had near unanimous opposition in the recent SRC elections, and I look forward to seeing what the campaign can achieve with next year’s council. I encourage any new councillors to get involved with the Education Action Group on Tuesdays at 2 PM on the New Law Lawns to join the campaign.