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Thousands of students rally against fee deregulation

Andrew Passarello reports on today’s National Day of Action.

Thousands of university students marched across the Sydney CBD today for the National Union of Students’ National Day of Action (NDA), protesting against the Federal Government’s proposals for cuts to university funding and the deregulation of fees.

Students from Sydney University (USyd), UNSW, UTS and other university campuses forced partial closures of City Road, Broadway, and George Street as they marched towards Town Hall, participating in various sit-ins and blocking traffic.

Over 400 students gathered in front of Fisher Library at 1:30pm to take part in the USyd contingent of the protest. Speeches were made by various representatives, including political economy Professor Frank Stilwell, International Students’ Officer Emma Lau, and NTEU representative Nick Riemer. The students proceeded to march down to Michael Spence’s office in the Quadrangle, continuing the demonstration towards UTS to join the bulk of the action.

Prior to the protest taking place on campus, Vice Chancellor Michael Spence sent an email to all students saying that “the University has not yet determined our final position on these [fee deregulation] changes”, including uncertainty on whether the University would increase fees.

Eventually protesters were largely dispersed across George and Bathurst Street, as those remaining were forcibly pushed towards Hyde Park. Riot squad police had been on duty throughout the protest, with at least two arrests made at George Street.

Watch this space for Honi Soit’s comprehensive follow-up to the National Day Action.