Staff and students call on Government to dump Budget cuts and fee hikes

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Posted 8 August 2017 by Andrew MacDonald (NTEU National Office)

On campuses around the country today, during a designated National Day of Protest, staff and students rallied to urge the Turnbull Government to scrap planned cuts to higher education and increases in student fees.

Meetings endorsed a statement calling on the Australian Senate to reject all cuts to higher education in the 2017 Federal Budget, as well as the proposed increases in the HECS HELP rates and decreases in the debt repayment threshold.

The Federal Budget confirmed the Government intends to swindle students by charging more for degrees at the same time as cutting teaching funding to universities, which is why this day of protest was necessary,” said NTEU National President Jeannie Rea.

“With the Australian Parliament scheduled to receive the report of the Senate committee inquiry into the Government’s higher education package tomorrow we have now sent a clear message to politicians, that they must heed the united calls of the sector and oppose these cuts.”

The endorsed statement also called upon university managements to not only actively reject the higher education package, but to also stop the excessive use of insecure forms of employment and negotiate collective bargaining agreements that strengthen job security.

“In a welcome demonstration of sector wide unity, vice chancellors and their advocacy groups are also lobbying against the Government’s higher education package. However, vice chancellors have also told their staff that if the cuts go through more jobs will go,” explained Rea.

“There is already excessive casualisation of academic work and increasing precarity in all higher education occupations, which is fast jeopardising the quality of Australia’s higher education and research effort. We agree with the vice chancellors that the sector cannot absorb any further cuts.

“While we are the first to criticise vice chancellors’ excessive remuneration packages, we also maintain that Senator Birmingham is disingenuous in focussing upon senior management remuneration to avoid the widespread criticism of the $2.3billion cut to public investment in higher education,” concluded Rea.

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