Students Take a Radical Look at Education

13 April 2018

Radical Education week is an initiative by the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU)’s environment department that ran in week five, from 26 to 29 March 2018.

This is the second time Rad Ed week has occurred. It aims to educate University of Melbourne students about radical ideas, and prompt them to think about their degrees in new ways. It hopes to challenge the growing corporatisation of Australian universities and universities around the world, and to create a critical dialogue about the capitalist systems that make this happen and how they affect students something which is not covered in general curriculums.

Several UMSU departments, including welfare, queer, women’s, education (public and academic) and People of Colour, held discussions and events throughout the week at the ‘Rad Ed Hub’, a venue on South Lawn. UMSU environment office bearers and organisers Lucy Turton and Callum Simpson were in the hub all week to help coordinate events and overseeing the catering provided by the Melbourne University Food Co-op. They spoke to Farrago on how it went.

“It was a fabulous week of workshops and conversations about radical ideas, theory, and how to re-vision our broken education systems,” said Turton and Simpson.

“It’s only all too clear that the corporatisation of our universities is corrupting our education system and our experience at uni. This impacts both students, who are being forced to pay ever-increasing fees while their needs aren’t met, and staff, with the tertiary education sector becoming increasingly casualised … As well as this, it means that Melbourne University feels that investing in the world’s biggest polluters and weapons manufacturers is an appropriate decision”

UMSU education (public) office bearer Conor Clements believes Radical Education week is of utmost importance, agreeing that students may be uninformed about the consequences of the increasing commercialisation of the University.

“The commercialisation of our university has a bunch of ramifications for its students—the most obvious of this is that it allows more of a corporate voice within the way universities teach.”

“One of the things that concerns me most about commercialisation is the impact it has on university services—the Uni are encouraged to spend big money marketing themselves, which leaves things like counselling and psychological services under increasing pressure to run as cheaply…to free up more of a budget for advertising,” said Clements.

Turton and Simpson would like to thank the workshop facilitators, volunteers and UMSU departments whose work made Radical Education week possible.

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