A free breakfast is on offer tomorrow between 9.30 and 11am for the Guild-organised rally “Save Our Tute-Free Weeks”. It’s happening outside Building 100—check the Facebook event for more information.

In an email update sent to all students, the Curtin Student Guild has announced that the Academic Board is “poised to pass changes” to the academic calendar.

All student members and two staff members on the Academic Services Committee voted against the proposed changes to the semester structure, but it passed 14 to six nonetheless. The Guild’s proposed amendment to restore two tute-free weeks was defeated six to 12.

The Committee’s proposed changes include losing one tuition-free week in both semesters, the maintenance of two weeks of exams per semester and a break of only one week between semester two and the eight-week summer school.

Tomorrow, the Academic Board will decide whether to approve these changes.

“After that there is no turning back,” said the Guild, “We need to take action together to defeat this.”

The Guild calls the Committee’s vote “a significant attempt by the University to undermine quality of education”.

But Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said that the Guild’s proposed amendment—to reinstate the tute-free weeks—was not adopted by the Committee because it would impact on the overall viability of the new calendar and on student flexibility.

Regardless, the Guild have made a call to reach 10,000 signatures on their petition before their rally, which now sits at 11,665 signatures. They created a sample letter that can be sent to the Academic Board, which requests that they consider that tuition-free weeks are essential to completing assignments, undertaking part-time work and maintaining a social life.

But the University maintains that, among other benefits, the proposal will provide more flexible study options for students, including the potential to complete a degree in a shorter timeframe; complete a degree in the same timeframe but with a reduced load in each period; or to catch up on missed, or failed, units.

“The [vote] follows extensive discussion, town hall meetings, and formal university-wide consultation, which resulted in 105 responses,” said Terry, “a number of refinements have been made to the proposal that was initially circulated by the University earlier this year.”

The Guild said that they defeated the original trimester proposal, and that they will continue to work in the interest of Curtin’s students. 

“We will not accept this attempt to diminish our university experience,” they stated.