SRC Reports, Week 13, Semester 1

All your SRC news from Week 13.

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President’s Report: Jen Light

This July the National Union of Students (NUS) will be hosting their annual education conference.

NUS is the peak representative body for undergraduate students in Australia. NUS works to protect the rights of students across Australia, organises national campaigns on issues affecting students in a range of different areas, and makes sure that the student voice is heard by the government, the media, and the public.

The education conference is designed to get students together from across the country to talk about current issues affecting higher education. The conference will allow an opportunity to discuss previous campaigns run this year, as well as workshop future campaigns around education rights.

NUS was the co-ordinator of the 2 National Days of Action this semester, the first in March prior to the budget, and the emergency NDA held on 21st of May against the proposed changes to higher education. This year more than ever students across the country need to bind together and fight against the Abbott Government.

The Abbott Government’s budget that was recently released will be most damaging to students. It states the implementation of deregulated fees, which will allow universities the freedom to charge whatever price they want for your degree. Deregulated fees will turn a $10,000 degree into a $100,000 degree, increasing in accessibility for students from low SES backgrounds. We will also be seeing the addition of interest rates on our HECS debt attributing to thousands of dollars of extra debt.

This years budget will be detrimental to students which is why this years education conference is so important. The education conference is a great opportunity for student activists around the county to network and share experiences and skills.

This years education conference will be held from the 9-11th July in Perth at the University of Western Australia.

General Secretary’s Report: James Leeder

It has certainly been a busy time on campus since my last report. We have seen the potential policy decisions of universities illuminated in the wake of fee deregulation illuminated in the media, as well as the campus being physically illuminated as part of the Vivid festival. Students, collectively, have been busy taking part in and organising demonstrations such as the National Day of Action (NDA) against fee deregulation on
May 21.

Despite seeing thousands of students mobilise at the most recent NDA, there are still thousands more students on the campus who remain politically unengaged. Some lack of engagement is understandable as the harms of deregulation can be hard to conceptualise since universities have total control over their own price, which means we can’t easily predict how much universities will decide to raise fees until it actually happens.

However, we can predict a few things. If these changes do go ahead we will see all courses receive, at minimum, 20% less funding. Fee deregulation as it stands is accompanied with large numbers of cuts to university funding across the board as well. This has lead both our Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence, and Melbourne’s VC Glyn Davis, to announce that under current predictions the fees for degrees such as science, engineering and medicine would need to rise by $5000 a year in order for universities to maintain their current levels of funding. Current and potential students need to let the government know just how angry they are over deregulation, and demonstrations like the NDA are a great way to do that.

Some, like journalist Annabel Crabb, have claimed that student demonstrations are ineffective but this is not true. The demonstrations have not only mobilised thousands of students but they have been featured on TV, within newspapers, in the jokes of the ABC’s Clarke and Dawe, and have drawn vast amounts of attention to a crucial issue. Their success is in the spotlight that they shine onto the issue, and as such, it is crucial that students ensure that scrutiny on the government over changes to universities is maintained.

Rallies and lobbying have more impact the more people are involved. Whilst it has been current students and staff expressing most of the discontent, they should not be the only ones. Other proposed changes, such as the proposed 6% interest rate, affect students both currently and retrospectively meaning that graduates would face increased financial burdens as well. I hope to see current, past and future students unite in a campaign against changes to higher education to ensure that it is still an equitable and accessible system.

Maintaining the rage can be difficult, particular when facing exams, but if the current policy decisions of the Abbott government are anything to go by I doubt we’ll have a problem.

Education Officers’ Report: Eleanor Morley & Ridah Hassan

The National Day of Action against Abbott and Pyne’s attacks on higher education on May 21 saw thousands of students hit the streets in the biggest student rally in Sydney in almost a decade! At Sydney Uni 1000 students heard from a variety of speakers discussing how the budget will affect students and the fightback we need before marching through the quad, and to join other campuses from NSW at UTS.

Sydney Uni has a vibrant history of student radicalism, and it is fantastic to see these traditions being revived in response to Abbott’s class war budget. We have made it clear we will not accept these attacks on education, healthcare and welfare, and we will continue to protest, occupy and disrupt until we win.

Over the past couple of weeks, every time a Liberal MP has stepped onto a University campus across the country they have been met with the angry chants of students. Here in Sydney we have targeted Julie Bishop (twice!), Christopher Pyne and George Brandis, and we will continue to do so for as long as these parasites try to demolish public education.

Unfortunately, our University administration has decided to do the dirty work of the Abbott government by issuing a student activist with a one month campus ban for participating in the protest against Bishop. This is a worrying attack on free speech; we have the right to protest to protect our education.

Annabel Crabb, Amanda Vanstone and others may denounce our actions, but our actions have garnered majority support from the rest of the country. The next anti-Abbott action that you can get involved with is the Bust the Budget rally on June 28, meeting outside Town Hall at 1pm.

This is only the beginning of our campaign against Abbott, and we hope to see all those who joined the rally on May 21 to come back out early next semester when we will be holding another National Day of Action against this budget.

Wom*n’s Officers’ Report: Julia Readett, Georgia Cranko & Phoebe Moloney

Over the past week, we’ve felt so lucky to end the semester with a bit of a bang. Our autonomously edited and written edition of Honi Soit was released on Tuesday and we can’t thank all the wonderful editors and contributors enough for coming together and producing a wonderful publication to share with fellow students, friends and family. We also held a joint launch party with the Indigenous Collective, which involved pizza, poetry slams and a beautiful bunch of people who came along to support our editions of Honi Soit. A big shout out the Indigenous Edition’s Editor in Chief, Madison McIvor, whose strength and passion was absolutely inspiring.

We heard from over ten performers who shared with us the power of words, the power of voice and the power of coming together to hear each other’s differing experiences. Our hosts Bridget Harilaou and Sonia Feng educated us on poetry slam etiquette and we were clicking our fingers in absolute awe of the stories and words shared by the poets. As we looked around the room we could see people clicking because they could totally empathise, clicking because they’d just learnt something new, and clicking

This week has highlighted to us that to be part of creating change; the sharing of stories and personal narratives holds incredible power, especially the stories of those who are often disenfranchised or silenced. Aimee Stanford and Charlie Jackson-Martin led us in an autonomous queer story sharing evening and we’re looking forward to organizing a number of intersectionality workshops over the holidays and the semester to come.

International Student Officers’ Report: Emma Liu, Sherry Vanbo, Xinchen Liu & James Wang

This semester has been eventful. We launched our Fair Fare campaign at the International Festival in late April, and one of our officers spoke at the May 21 rally about how the budget will affect international students.

The Fair Fare campaign is a collaborative effort of international student collectives at this university and UNSW. It seeks to raise public awareness of the currently unfair travel concession scheme. We have collected 50 photo from students and received more than 300 likes on our Facebook page.

International students are legal students in NSW yet we are only entitled to limited travel concession. We are eligible for a discount between 24 to 35 per cent for a quarterly or yearly MyMulti 2 or 3. In order to access these discounts, students need to pay for these tickets upfront, with price starting from $425. Access to these tickets is controlled education provider: students need to retain a one-time code from the university and use it to purchase tickets online.

This scheme not only brings unfairness, but also safety concerns. Students, out of financial considerations, will choose to walk home alone during night time than catching a bus or train. Buying a full price ticket everyday costs a considerable amount of money for a student. We call for all students, local and international, to support this campaign. You can simply ‘like’ and share our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fairfarensw), or participate in our ongoing photo shoot.

We wholeheartedly support the rally against cuts to higher education, because we believe that it will affect International Students. One of our officers, Emma, spoke at the USYD rally about how the federal budget will compromise teaching quality and its consequences. International Students are not cash cows and we will not pay for the education that does not value as much as it costs. Current students, though immune from fee deregulation, will suffer as the Australian government compromise education quality.  Future students will be rational enough to analyse their choices for education destination. Australia will hence become a less attractive destination when tuition fees increases as well as living expenses.

We are passionate about all issues concerning International Students. Please feel free to contact any of us if you have any questions or concerns, or if you’d like to get involved in our campaigns. Simply shoot us an email at international.officers@src.usyd.edu.au, or leave a comment in our Facebook group: search for ‘USYD Students Representative Council(SRC) International Students Officers’.

Filed under:
Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

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