The committee who will decide the speaking list at the University of Sydney’s upcoming town hall-style meeting to discuss higher education reform will now consult with senators and student leaders.
According to Undergraduate Senate Fellow Patrick Massarani, the Senior Executive Group (SEG) working party (headed by Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Stephen Garton) will now formally consult with the Presidents of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and the Sydney University Postgraduate Representatives Association (SUPRA), as well as Senate Fellows.
“The SEG working party, which is charged with running the consultation process, will sign off on the final speakers with concern for representatives from all interested parties and a wide range of views … [a] speaker’s time will be limited to 2 minutes to allow both adequate expression of views and the maximum number of speakers to contribute,” a University spokesperson said.
“I’m incredibly proud to have been able to channel the concerns of students into a formally negotiated and concrete outcome,” said Massarani.
“[This is] undoubtedly the most genuine consultation process of any uni in the country. I’d challenge all Australian universities and their Vice-Chancellors to deliver this genuine level of debate and dialogue.”
“It is a fantastic move from the university to allow a genuine debate which is now a lot more transparent,” said SRC President Jennifer Light.
SUPRA President Timothy Scriven said it was a “very positive development, though the system is still far from perfect. Scriven also stated that the speaking time of 50 minutes “just isn’t enough”.
When asked if speakers who had publicly opposed fee deregulation, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said it would be odd “if the protest voice were missing”. Spence had suggested SEG may be compared to “North Korea” with respect to the level of control it would have over the speaking list. Popular perceptions of the SEG as a “tiny cabal of a limited number” were an “unfortunate semiotic consequence” of its name, he said.
The event will be held on August 25. Current students, staff and alumni are all eligible to attend.