A student-led rally was held on Thursday against the Times Higher Education (THE) World Academic Summit, calling for an end to course cuts, staff casualisation, and profiteering.
Outgoing Education Officers Yasmine Johnson (SAlt) and Ishbel Dunsmore (Grassroots) chaired the rally, leading demonstrators in chants of “no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities.”
The Times HIgher Education World Academic Summit is an annual global education event where over 550 delegates and vice-chancellors from over 50 countries meet to discuss the future of higher education policy, leadership and ambitions in global education systems.
This year the University of Sydney is the nominated host partnership where Mark Scott serves as the representative of the University of Sydney’s educational ethos.
Tickets for the summit ranged in price from $3000 – $5000, a major blow to staff and students facing a cost of living crisis.
Contingents from the Women’s Collective, Welfare Action Group, and Education Action Group (EAG) rallied outside F23, hearing from speakers who condemned the summit, course cuts, OLE/interdisciplinary units, and the University’s recent greenwashing.
Dunsmore said, “the university is steeped in course cuts, wrecked by corporate greed and staff are facing devastating examples of wage theft.”
Grace Street (Grassroots) outlined the rally’s five main demands; “we demand free education, no cuts to FASS and music courses, weapons and fossil fuels off campus, stop the silence against sexual violence, and access to paid placements.”
Demonstrators then marched to the Business School, where the summit was being held. Despite attempts to prevent students from entering, the rally pushed through a side door and descended upon the refreshments and seating area of the summit.
Followed by University security, and confronted by confused attendees, protestors chanted, “What do we want? Free education! When do we want it? Now!”
UNSW Education Officer Cherish Kuehlmann, arrested earlier this year for protesting at the Reserve Bank of Australia, attended the protest in solidarity with USyd students.
UNSW students led their own protest against Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs yesterday, following the Independent Commision Against Corruption (ICAC)’s investigation into Brungs’ hiring process and use of corporate benefits.
Kuehlmann said “these rallies are fighting to save courses from being cut, stand in solidarity with staff, and demand pay rises.”
Yasmine Johnson (SAlt) led the march with a statement, “we will fight every time the University chooses to prioritise profits over our education.”
Student activists continue to organise rallies around AUKUS, housing affordability, the cost of living crisis, and ending the University’s corporate ties with French weapons manufacturer, Thales.
When asked what the future of fighting corporatisation looks like, Dunsmore affirmed, “we will be back. We will always rally against the corporatisation of our university.”