The 2013 “EduFactory! – Disassembling the Neoliberal University” conference was held at the University of Sydney from Thursday the 25th to Sunday the 28th of April. EduFactory! saw concerned students from all over the country come together to discuss the current crisis of tertiary education.
University students, TAFE students, staff union members, and education activists from all walks of life, discussed the campaigns that were being run in their own corners of the world. Stories were swapped on the staff and course cuts that have occurred, with some faculties seeing their subject choice reduced by 60%. An ‘all-in’ session of national ‘report backs’ demonstrated to me just how similar all of our experiences are and how systematically our universities are being turned in to neoliberal ‘edufactories’. We used the four days to share ideas, skills, strategies and tactics and to discussion the expected increase of education cuts due to the upcoming federal government budget’s plan to remove $2.3+ billion from the tertiary sector.
Some universities were reported to have thriving activist communities, whilst others cried out for national solidarity to help them establish their dream campaigns and fight their education attacks. Therefore, more importantly than any other aspect of the conference was the fact that we used the time to put all of our ideas together and to strategize how we could best unite to defend our education and to demand the high quality, and free, education that we deserve.
“EduFactory!” demonstrated that there is strength in unity and strength in collective decision-making and collective organising. The overwhelming majority of conference attendees voted to establish a national education network, titled Class Action. Class Action will be a great thing for the future of student activism and more importantly for the future of education in Australia. It will be a unifying and guiding body for future struggles and allow our, often-divided, movement to come together and seriously challenge the neoliberal project attacking our universities and schools.
The establishment of Class Action gives me hope. We can look to the future and see the presence of a strong force fighting for students and their fundamental rights – free, quality education.