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USyd students protest Bishop

Justin Pen and Lane Sainty were on the scene.

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Students protested against Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s presence on campus and the Abbott government’s proposed changes to tertiary education on Thursday afternoon.

After hearing that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was apparently on campus in order to attend his daughter’s graduation, a group of protesters met at Fisher Library and moved to the Quad with plans to protest.

The group stormed MacLaurin Hall, breaking through campus security in order to enter, only to find no sign of Abbott. However, after exiting through another door, the group met Julie Bishop coming up a set of stairs.

Bishop was on campus to meet students participating in the New Colombo Plan, a scheme that offers scholarships and grants to Australian undergraduates to study and intern in the Indo Pacific region.

A lengthy scuffle broke out between student protestors, campus security and the men who accompanied Bishop, during which Bishop entered MacLaurin Hall. After several minutes, campus security secured the door to MacLaurin Hall while the protest moved downstairs and outside.

The protest, then reaching approximately 80 people, moved back into the Quad building and chanted outside the Nicholson Museum for approximately 20 minutes. They heard from the SRC Education Officers and National Tertiary Education Union NSW Secretary Genevieve Kelly.

“The NTEU is fully in support of student action,” said Kelly.

Video footage by Brigitte Garozzo.

The students then moved outside the Quad and staked out beside cars thought to be the ones Bishop arrived in until the protest disbanded.

SRC Education Officer Eleanor Morley was pleased with the snap action rally.

“We think it’s disgraceful that any Liberal politician has the gall to walk on to a university campus, when they’ve just launched an all-out attack against students,” she said.

Similar protests have occurred at other universities across the nation since the Budget was handed down. Some of the changes to be implemented in 2016 include the deregulation of university fees and a 20 per cent increase in the student contribution to fees.

“In Adelaide, student activists protested Christopher Pyne during a speech he was making at Adelaide University,” Morley said. “And in Brisbane, students rallied against Joe Hockey.”

A Sydney University media spokesperson told Honi Soit that to her knowledge, Tony Abbott was not on campus nor scheduled to be on campus today.

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