Next week is Radical Education Week at Sydney Uni, as well as the NUS National Day of Action on Wednesday August 24. So it seems like as good a time as any to examine the state of higher education in Australian and at our university.
Severe cuts to higher education funding are back on the table under the current federal government. This is nothing new: successive governments have cut funding to universities and other institutions like TAFE, striking a massive blow not just to students, but also to the broader community and economy. International research shows that for every public dollar invested in higher education, $6 are saved through lower unemployment benefits and higher taxes.
It seems odd that a government which based its broader election campaign around “innovation” and “agility” would be unwilling to fund the very institutions and researchers who provide innovative ideas and technologies.
So why is education, a public good with a great investment return, seen as less worthy of government funding than other department areas? And why is it seen as fair for students to shoulder the cost burden of education through higher fees, brought on to make up the funding cut shortfall?
Clearly, despite the principle societies like Australia have been built on, that everyone deserves the right to an education, higher education is increasingly seen as a commodity: increasingly seen not as a right but as a privilege, where the quality of education provided is dependent less on your ability and more on your bank account and postcode.
It seems barely possible that less than 50 years ago, university education was free in Australia. Now the idea of students shouldering extreme debt for years after graduating is accepted as part and parcel with a degree.
So what can we do? For starters, students need to be aware and engaged with these issues. You can do this by attending an SRC Education Action Group meeting and the NDA next week. Read as much as you can and look at the policies of the major parties around education funding. We may be some time off the next election but we know that public opinion can change policy – as we saw with the failure to pass fee deregulation. And don’t just accept the rhetoric – challenge the narrative and move the parameters of the debate. Because investing in higher education is too important for us as a society to ignore, both now and for future generations.
Get informed, get involved. See you at the NDA and enjoy week four!
Since last fortnight I have been able to make some real progress with the issues of Lecture recordings. I personally spoke to the Chair of Academic Board, Tony Masters and explained the issues as well as provided him with some details of real students experiences and issues in relation to lecture recordings. I also raised the issues at SEG ED last week which seemed to be well received by the board members there. A lot of the board seemed shocked by what I was telling them as they seemed unaware this issues was happening which is why it is so important we stand up and let management know what is going on in their University! I will, however, continue to work on this issue as it is fair from solved.
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in with the General Assembly at SCA where the students unanimously supported going on strike this Wednesday the 17th of August to stand against managements proposal to close SCA and move it to Camperdown/Darlighton campus while greatly reducing the offerings and specialized studio based practiced SCA is famous for. I encourage everyone to like the Facebook page ‘Let SCA Stay’ and to join the SCA students and your SRC reps on the 17th at 1pm at the Madsen Building to protest against the closure of SCA.
Another important rally coming up is the National Day of Action on the 24th of August where the Education Action Group will take a stand and fight against the governments cuts to higher education.
One last important thing is the Census date! The Census date for this semester is the 31st of August this is the deadline to withdraw from a subject and not have to pay! So right that one in your diary, but if you have any further concerns of questions about enrolment or withdrawing you can always come down to our office and see one of our dedicated caseworkers.
Aparna Balakumar, Elizabeth Mora, Lamya Rahman, & Adam Ursino
It’s been a busy year so far for the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) and things are only about to get busier. Following on from the success of our events last semester, such as ACAR revue and our collaboration with SUDS, this semester ACAR intends to further solidify our campus presence with the launch of the Ethno-cultural Space sometime in early September. The room, located in Manning and provided by the USU, is open to all ethno-cultural students on campus and is expected to be not only a place where ethno-cultural clubs, societies and collectives can freely run meetings and workshops, but also just a nice, safe, and autonomous space for ethno-cultural students to meet and hang out on campus. ACAR plans to take advantage of this great space as much as possible, with regular monthly collective meetings anticipated following the launch.
Additionally with semester two comes two big projects on ACAR’s creative agenda. The first is ACAR Honi, where for one week ACAR will take over the student newspaper, giving people of colour the chance to edit, produce, contribute, design, and write for an issue that amplifies and centre issues of race on campus and beyond. Since its first edition in 2014, ACAR Honi has given writers and designers of colour the rare opportunity to forefront their voices in student media, and this year we plan to go even bigger and better.
Second on the calendar is a first for ACAR – a performance show called Rehearsals for Life, running in conjunction with the USU’s Verge Festival. The theme of the show is expected to loosely cover the topics of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity, death/silence all from the unique perspectives of performers of colour. Each performer will give their take on the theme through different mediums including but not limiting to music, poetry, acting, and singing. ACAR is optimistic about our first ever performance show and excited for its first time run as it fills a creative gap not covered by ACAR Honi – we encourage all student performers coming from an ethno-cultural background to apply.
Both projects are expected to launch on the same night – October 13th.
To find out how you can get involved in ACAR please join our Facebook group, ‘Autonomous Collective Against Racism’ searchable in the main University of Sydney group or like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usydacar
With love and rage,
Your 2016 OBs,
Lamya Rahman, Adam Torres, Una Madura Verde, and Aparna Balakumar
Global Solidarity Officers
Declan Maher & Pelin Ersoy, Justine Amin & Michelle Picone
The release of the Nauru Files has once again shone light on the horrendous treatment of refugees by the Australian government. This does not come as a surprise to anyone – it has been the policy of both Liberal and Labor for some years now to subject refugees to brutal torture in offshore concentration camps as a “deterrent”, that is, making them worse than wars, persecution and poverty that Australia is directly or indirectly complicit in causing. A policy so central to the project of both parties can only be defeated through mass action and by literally tearing down the fences imprisoning refugees, as happened in Woomera in 2002. The next rally to free the refugees is on August 27th, starting at 1pm at Town Hall.
The 2016 Rio Olympics is all over the news, along with little mention of protests that have surrounded the event, drawing attention to huge wealth inequality, the poor state of education, the clearing of favelas and other issues. As the torch approached the Opening Ceremony, it was headed by riot police firing rubber bullets at those who stood in its way. The event itself, however, hasn’t been completely apolitical – USA’s swimming gold medalist in Simone Manuel used her platform to speak out about police brutality in her home country. She said to the media on her victory, ”it means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My colour comes with the territory.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has, in recent months, found footing in Australia after a number of large rallies, particularly in light of the report on the Don Dale prison in the Northern Territory, where predominantly Indigenous boys have been subject to various forms of torture from tear gas to restraining chairs to isolation. This is just another episode in the 228 year history of racism and genocide that is the Australian state. The Global Solidarity office will continue to support this struggle of Indigenous people against racism and oppression.