Over the recent Labour Day weekend in Canberra, students from around the country came together at the EduFactory conference to discuss the current situation of Australian universities, to swap strategies and understanding and to foster links between campaigns and collectives.
The conference was the result of dedicated work by grassroots organisers and included current and former, undergraduate and post-graduate students from a wide range of political persuasions.
Students reported to attendees about what is happening in their universities and regions. The most commonly mentioned issues were cuts to faculties and the poor or non-existent allocation of Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) funding by university administration. Several groups who reported receiving a small or no percentage of their SSAF funds also pointed out that the mandatory student consultation periods had proved insufficient.
Over the conference’s three days there were many workshops with topics ranging from: studying and working (including discussion of resistance to exploitation of students in the workplace), Foucault’s critique of Neoliberalism, the pedagogy of social change, and the nature of the university and the impact of this
upon administrative decisions and radical responses.
Some speakers addressed the conference via Skype so that students might learn about campaigns even if the speakers couldn’t attend in person.
At the conclusion of the conference, all had made new friends and connections and there was a feeling of reinvigoration and inspiration after a particularly gruelling year for university activism.
Several Sydney-based students spoke of starting to organise next year’s EduFactory conference and Victorian-based students are planning to collaborate on campaigns in the immediate future.
A special mention must be made for Sean Munro, Emma Mezzatesta and others whose organising work over the last year made EduFactory a possibility and a success. We are also grateful for the work of the Grievance Committee to provide a safe space for all attendees.