President’s Report Week 7: Funding cuts to higher education

David Pink reports on possible funding cuts to tertiary education

SRC President David Pink. The first non-NLS President in 13 years
SRC President David Pink. The first non-NLS President in 13 years
SRC President David Pink

The federal government’s decision to cut $2.3 billion out of higher education funding is a disgrace. The idea that the only way we can fund public education is by robbing Peter to pay Paul – to cut university funding and student support, in order to boost Gonski  – is absurd. It’s definitely going to see the quality of your education decrease, and without a doubt harm educational opportunities for new tertiary students (even if their schools are great).

Last week, at Academic Board, I had an opportunity to ask the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Stephen Garton, what sort of cuts we were looking at. His answer: something in the order of $50 million. Where were these cuts going to come from? All areas, including faculties.  Would this affect the EBA negotiations? It would sharpen discussion about what was realistic. Would there be redundancies? The University would obviously like to avoid dismissing anyone, and priority would go to simply not filling vacancies, but staff cuts would definitely be on the table. General staff cuts and administrative efficiencies would be prioritised over cuts to teaching and research.

The SRC really wants to avoid a fight with the University over cuts, like we had last year. Our side won that battle, but there’s no guarantee the outcome would be the same this time around.

We want to keep this fight national, against the government and their disastrous cuts.

So what will we do?

Both staff unions, the NTEU and the CPSU/PSA, and the national student union, NUS, have indicated there will be a real and powerful fightback.

The National Union of Students has indicated that May 14 will be the day for a national student strike. Whether this will involve student pickets around every university in the country, or something more resembling a massive rally in every capital city, is yet to be determined.

The NTEU will be discussing at their National Executive meeting the prospect of calling a Community Day of Action on May 14 in co-ordination with the NUS. It is as yet unclear whether or not this will involve industrial action.

The CPSU/PSA have indicated that they will be “consulting with [their] members state-wide to identify the areas of greatest risk to jobs and services and develop a plan to protect university education in NSW.”

The SRC is fully behind NUS’ plans for May 14. As a snap action, we will be holding a speak out with the Cross-Campus Education Action Network next Wednesday April 24 at 12 pm outside Fisher Library.

The EduFactory! Conference being held at the University of Sydney from this Thursday-Sunday (April 25-28th) will be an important opportunity to organise the national student strike. There will be over 300 activists from around the country all in one place, and the timing could not be better.

Check out the facebook event:

It’s not too late to register. And there has never been a better opportunity to get involved.

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