joining the national protest against university funding cuts

No ifs, no buts, no education cuts.

After Julia Gillard announced the intention of the Labor Government to cut over $2 billion of funding from Australian universities, who already struggle enough on their limited funding, to redirect it towards primary and secondary schools, there was a major uproar. Protests sprung up all over the country, and students were terrified that their already exorbitantly priced education would become even more unattainable. So they set a date for a national protest – May 14th.

The idea was to go on strike and not attend classes, and then to gather for a series of protests in the city to get the message across. I wasn’t particularly set on attending the protest in the city, and used the strike as more an excuse to skip class than as an actual protest, but even I cannot deny that their cause is valid. The government has put out publications and acknowledged other studies which have found that improvements are needed in this area, and yet they give us cuts.

So what does this mean for individual universities? Well, for starters the business model they already work on will have to focus even more on the bottom line – which affects staffing selections and thus the variety and number of courses and subjects available to students. Additionally, the funding cut takes away the up-front discounts in the HECs payment system and also converts the Student Start Up Scholarship to a mere loan – which essentially, just increases the debt a university student will face once they graduate and hit the workforce. Not really a great way to boost an economy in a climate where recession has been narrowly avoided and other countries are still battling (especially since the way out of/to avoid recession is generally through increased spending from consumers).

So thanks for that new budget, Julia Gillard. You’re really making life swell.

Here’s a small video I got off the NTEU website which was filmed at my university – and it clearly outlines how a single university will be affected by this new budget.

So while I hovered around the edges of the rally for a few minutes and observed some of the protesters in action during the miserable weather that Melbourne brought them, I still see this as an issue we all face. I’m just reserved about the effectiveness of national protesting, since it feels kind of feeble and pointless. Plus, asking students to skip class with only a few weeks to exams is kind of a big deal.

However, I hope the issue doesn’t just fade off after this.

(Most of my information comes from the STEU website.)

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