fee deregulation

Photo: NSW Education Action Network/Facebook. Students took to the streets on May 12, budget day, to call for free education and an end to the fee deregulation bill.
Rallies have been called in response to the federal government’s attack on education funding in the upcoming budget, and a big one is planned for Sydney on budget day, May 12. Although Christopher Pyne’s education policies have been repeatedly defeated in the Senate, he is determined to continue to try to “fix” the education system by reducing governmental funding and pushing for fee deregulation. The next chance he will have to do this is with mass education spending cutbacks in the budget.
On March 25 university students and supporters of accessible education participated in National Day of Action rallies against the ongoing attacks on education. There were rallies in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Tasmania and Wollongong.
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.
The Senate has voted down Christopher Pyne’s Higher Education Reform Bill, which would uncap university fees. This is the second time that the legislation has been struck down. It puts Tony Abbott’s government on aan uneasy footing. The defeat of the bill comes after Pyne spent weeks on a campaign to bully and threaten crossbenchers in parliament. This strategy included threatening to cut $150 million of research funding to the National Collaborative Research and Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) if the bill was not passed.
I am a political science student, two years into a bachelor degree at the University of Western Sydney. I major in Social and Cultural Analysis. I am also an activist, I campaign day-to-day on campus and on the streets, talking to students and workers. I am a young, unemployed, queer woman and activist from a working-class family. I am not the typical Legislative Council candidate — but that is exactly why I’m standing. Through my candidacy, I seek to actively challenge the notion that the 1% represents the 99%, or that you should be forced to vote for the “lesser evil”.

To date, Vice-Chancellor of University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Attila Brungs has supported Prime Minister Tony Abbott's fee deregulation legislation. Last year he said fee deregulation “could have some positive impacts” and result in “teaching quality going up”. Arguing that it is positive that students finish their course with $100,000 debt is a hard sell, and Brungs felt the heat as students at UTS signed petitions calling on him to oppose it.

The National Union of Students organises national days of action, in which students around the country take part in rallies to fight back against the latest round of attacks against public education. This year, students are continuing to fight the biggest attack on accessible education since HECS was introduced in 1989.
Fee deregulation will be resurrected this year. This gives education activists that general zombie-slayer feeling any sane human gets from fighting a piece of legislation you thought you had killed already. Last year, fee deregulation was booted out of the Senate, with student boots doing most of the kicking. But it doesn’t want to die and is set to return to parliament, presumably with enough amendments to appeal to the biggest fence sitters.
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