Students get organised to defend their rights

Saturday, May 31, 2014
Members of the UWS Education Action Group. Photo: Mia Sanders

The savage cuts to education announced in early May have stirred students into action across Australia.

On May 28, the University of Western Sydney Education Action Group (EAG) held a meeting on the Bankstown campus to organise students, and work with staff to defend quality tertiary education.

With two-thirds of Australian university students living below the poverty line and one in five students skipping meals, students are among the most financially vulnerable sectors.

The Abbott government’s decision to lower assistance to HELP debt (formerly known as HECS) by 20%; increase the interest rate on HELP debt and allow a rapacious market to dictate the rate; deregulate and remove caps on fees so that university administrations can hit students with inflated fees and channel public funds to private providers, thereby diverting them from public education, are students’ main fears and points of campaign.

Treasurer Joe Hockey tried to justify the cuts as “[an end to] the age of entitlement”, but that will not sedate the masses of students whose belts cannot be tightened any further.

A “Beat the Budget Blues BBQ” on May 13 collected expressions of interest for the reformation of the EAG and organised a contingent to support the National Union of Students day of action on May 21 against the cuts.

The National Tertiary Education Union sent representatives to support the students’ campaign to the first EAG meeting, where a motion to support the Unions NSW Bust the Budget rally in Parramatta on June 5 was agreed.

[To get involved in the UWS Education Action Group, contact Mia on 0406 160 496.]

From GLW issue 1011