Oh Snap31 May 2013
The National Union of Students (NUS) held snap rallies on 17 April to protest $2.3 billion worth of cuts made by the Gillard Government to fund the Gonski education reforms for primary and secondary schools.
The cuts include wipeouts of payment discounts for upfront HECS–HELP repayments, conversion of Student Start Up Scholarships to HECS style loans and reduced funding to universities over the next two years under ‘efficiency dividends’.
The cuts mean that the University of Melbourne stands to lose up to $52 million worth of funding in 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, students receiving start-up scholarships at the beginning of each semester to cover university costs will now have to repay them, presumably once their income reaches the HECS repayment threshold.
Melbourne University students gathered on South Lawn to sign petitions against the cuts before marching to RMIT where the Melbourne NUS protest took place.
“This time round, there is something that will really affect students,” Education Public Officer John Lister told Farrago. “There is $2.3 billion being taken from students, that’s what they should know,” he said.
The University of Melbourne is one of several campuses across the country collecting signatures to protest the Gillard government’s decision to remove funds from the tertiary sector to implement the recommendations of the Gonski education review. While Julia Gillard has told press that education reforms were what got her into politics, banners at the NUS Protest asked her ‘Where’s our education revolution?’
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has been critical of the Gillard government’s decision. In an open letter, she directed signatures to the Greens’ own petition and said “Everyone in Australia deserves a first class education from start to finish … cutting university funding to better fund schools doesn’t add up.”
“It’s a lot of dollars being ripped out, and not a lot of sense from the government,” Lister said.