Around hundred students and University staff gathered today in the Auchmuty Courtyard to protest proposed Federal Government cuts to education and increases in HECS fees. Federal Budget outlines a 25% increase in HECS fees and a plan to lower the HECS payback threshold to yearly earnings of $42,000.
The protest is another in a long line of student actions to take place under the National Union of Students’ Make Education Free Again campaign. The national body is lobbying the Federal Government to return to a free tertiary education scheme.
NUSA Welfare Officer Aesha Awan addressed students: “the last time we had free education we had it because students fought for it.
“Do you know why we don’t have university deregulation in 2014? Because students stood up and fought back!”
Protesting students in Auchmuty Courtyard (Photo: jarrod melmeth, 2nurFM)
“NUSA condemns the Federal Government’s plan to cut spending in the tertiary education sector and believes in free tuition for all. A 25% increase in HECS is another step in this government’s plan towards corporate universities,” NUSA said in a media release.
“These arrangements can see thousands of low socioeconomic status (SES) students locked out of tertiary education for generations. Meanwhile, those currently undertaking degrees are left with thousands of additional dollars of debt.”
“It’s not just enough to be against $100,000 degrees; we are against any fees for university education,” NUSA President Michael Labone told Opus.
External guests included Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon, who addressed the crowd. Opus understands that Labor will attempt to block the funding cuts when they appear before Parliament and the Senate.
The National Union of Students’ petition against fee increases and funding cuts can be found here: https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/stop-the-war-on-students
Story image: Jarrod Melmeth, 2NUR FM