The University of New South Wales acting vice chancellor Iain Martin cancelled a Town Hall meeting on September 3, organised to brief staff on the University’s response to proposed fee deregulation.
UNSW students had planned to protest their exclusion from the meeting.
In cancelling the meeting, Martin told staff: “We have been advised this morning by police and security that the meeting was being targeted by protest groups, which we understand were predominately external to UNSW. Our advice is that the intention was to disrupt the Town Hall.”
Despite the cancellation, students went ahead with their planned protest on the Library Lawn. UNSW student representative council President Joel Wilson told the student protest that all students wanted was to be permitted to attend the meeting, given it was discussing a matter that would affect them.
The UNSW National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch held a stall outside the library on the day, promoting the union’s campaign against fee deregulation and its protected action ballot.
Many staff and students signed NTEU postcards and collected information about the impact of the government's proposal on fees. Incoming branch secretary, Sam Russell addressed the rally, which was also attended by members of staff.
Students have now launched a petition calling on the acting vice chancellor to convene an open forum to debate the University’s stance on fee deregulation.
The petition notes the DVC and VC’s public support for fee deregulation. But it says “The gravity of these proposed reforms compels the University and its governing Council to afford all students, staff, and alumni the opportunity to express their diverse opinions on fee deregulation.”
The petition will be presented to the next UNSW Council meeting on October 20.
[For more information about the impacts of fee deregulation, visit National Tertiary Education Union online.]