Uni staff, students protest cuts

March 28, 2014
Students against education cuts, March 26. Photo: Peter Boyle

University students and staff protested proposed cuts to tertiary education in Sydney’s CBD on March 26.

The event involved about 200 people from various faculties, who marched against the proposed $2.3 billion dollar cuts to their universities.

Students from as far away as the University of Newcastle, gathered outside the University of Technology Sydney Broadway campus.

The cuts had been the initiative of the former Labor government, who claimed it would redirect funds to the Gonski school reforms. However the Coalition has decided to continue with these cuts, without following through with the Gonski reforms.

The cuts are to be implemented through the capping of university places, the privatisation of HECS and requiring students undertaking high-level degrees such as law and medicine to make upfront payments.

UTS staff member and Greens candidate for the federal seat of Sydney Dianne Hiles said: “It’s ironic that the generation that had free education is the one that’s trying to stop it happening any more. It’s just a matter of allocation and distribution. There’s enough money to go around, it’s just how it’s allocated.”

Many students are worried about the way in which the quality of their education is given such low priority. UTS communications and international studies student Lara Paijmans said: “I think it’s terrible, especially when the government is spending so much money on things like funding the mining industry and locking people up in detention and at the same time is cutting education which I think is really poor.”

The protesters marched down George Street with a police escort, bringing traffic to a standstill.

There was an array of signs to show the student’s distress, including “Pyne wants to kill me”, “What the HECS” and “Cut Tony not Education”.

Other protests organised by the National Union of Students took place in Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Sean Brocklehurst reported from Melbourne that about 1000 students joined the protest, followed by a march to parliament house. There was a large police presence.

Ellie Thomas reported from Adelaide that several hundred students rallied at an event organised by student unions. Protesters then went on an impromptu march to Adelaide University where students took the opportunity to speak about the education cuts, how they would affect them, and what they meant for other students. Security locked the doors to stop them moving inside the Adelaide university hub building, preventing students from entering or exiting.

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