Death to Deregulation

DSC_1886“A deregulated university system is an unfair system”.

Declan Murphy was one of the speakers at the protest against deregulation of university fees at Melbourne’s state library last week.

The protest was a part of a nationwide protest against the deregulation of university fees in Australia by the National Union of students.

The National Union of students has been the peak representative of students in Australia since 1987.

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The protest was in response to the proposed bill by the Liberal government, in the budget in 2015.

The bill was not passed but is to be revisited after the upcoming election, bringing its importance back into the public spotlight.

The deregulation of university fees would skyrocket the prices of university for Australian students.

This view was shared by hundreds of other students who walked through the streets of Melbourne on the 13th of April, who were inspired by Murphy’s words at the state library steps.

Murphy thought that the protest was successful “because when hundreds of students make a public stand like that we can affect public opinion and put pressure on government”.

He got into student activism by meeting with other activists at his university. While meeting with people he found something that he is passionate about.

“I became convinced of the necessity of power and protest”.

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The opinion towards this debate in Australia is not necessarily a one sided one.

The Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University, Glyn Davis, is a big supporter of the deregulation of university fees in Australia.

He explained why in a piece written for The Conversation.

“The idea of a public based university is worth defending, the term suggests commitment to merit-based and equitable entry,” he said.

He wrote about how a university could not technically be called ‘public’ when the majority of students are being helped by Commonwealth funding.

With the growing number of students in tertiary education the higher the costs are for the government. This has lead to the government’s unwillingness to fund current and future research projects for universities.

“Current funding rates mean the tertiary education offered to Australians at times falls short of global practice”.

“The federal cuts of 2012 and 2013 finally tipped the scales, turning idealists into reluctant pragmatists, now face the consequence of chronic underfunding. They know a poor education is no bargain, whatever the price”.

The price for university under a deregulated system is estimated to be in excess of $100,00 per degree in the future said ABC news.

Murphy “thinks that we should have a tertiary education system that is accessible for all people, regardless of how wealthy their parent are”.

And during the protest it was clearly shown that a large majority of current students would not be able to continue to study at that university if fees were increased.

The current HELP loan program could double the government’s own debt from $13 billion to $48 billion, in a recent report by PBO.

Evan Legg is a student advocate at Swinburne University of Technology and is currently studying a TAFE course.

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Legg, like many students in Australia is against the deregulation of University fees in Australia.

“The debate about deregulation of university fees is definitely a complex one, I’m not going to deny that. But raising the fees of universities to the point that some people can’t afford them, for better education for the few who can afford it. That’s just not something I am willing to stand for”

A study by the Grattan Institute written by Ittima Cherastidtham and Andrew Norton reviews the proposed plan of deregulation of university fees in Australia.

And found that it would exclude student who are not able to afford higher fees.

They have instead proposed their theoretical plan of lower HELP allowance that still allows for students to attend university comfortably.

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The debate about what we should be doing about the Australian higher education system in Australia is a completely different one, although one can’t help but think about what is to come of the higher education system.

Murphy said “the deregulated system of university will exclude the poorer from attending university and it will only entrench generational disadvantage”.

“A campaign built around protests such as this one can put the government on the back foot by making their policy of deregulation more unpopular”.

The policy, already highly unpopular among current university students, has been protested against all around Australia in the same week.

Murphy proudly explained that the power of protest brings information to the people and gets peoples voices heard.

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