Deregulation bill defeat: Victorious students face another fight

Sydney uni students lock on to Vice Chancellor's door in protest against fee deregulation.

After nearly four months of protesting, students have helped defeat the Higher Education Reform Bill for the second time.

However, Education Minister Christopher Pyne has promised that he “won’t give up”, indicating that the bill will be put before the Senate once again, with further concessions to crossbenchers.

Members of the NSW Education Action Network (EAN), locked themselves onto the door of the office of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Micheal Spence, on March 16 to pressure him to come out against the bill. As it stands, Spence still supports the bill.

At the University of Technology Sydney, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance (RYSA), in collaboration with the Students Association, have so far gathered 2000 signatures calling on Vice Chancellor Atilla Brungs to come out against the bill.

Brungs had previously promised that if he were given a petition with 10% of the student body — 5000 signatures — opposing fee deregulation, he would come out against it.

On February 15, RYSA members, in collaboration with EAN, protested against the bill outside Sydney’s Masonic Centre where Pyne was speaking. They were pepper-sprayed by police without warning.

On February 9, EAN protested against the bill at PM Tony Abbott’s office, where staffers turned off the power, trapping them in a lift for 45 minutes.
Across the country, RYSA members have been working hard to build the National Union of Students’ National Day of Action on March 25.

Students are not prepared to give up. RYSA will campaign around new demands, including rallying against the additional 20% funding cut to universities, which has passed parliament.

They will push the government for increased funding for the research sector, increases in Centrelink payments for students, free education for international and domestic university students and TAFE students, as well as a boost to TAFE funding.