Universities across the nation face $2.2 billion in cuts as a result of the government’s plan to cap the number of Commonwealth Supported Places at 2017 levels.
The government has tried several times to pass education cuts before, beginning with the Labor government’s plan to cut $2.3 billion from higher education in 2013. This proposed cut began a dangerous trend of attempted attacks on students’ education but was also the beginning of the student fightback against education cuts.
Since then, the government has been repeatedly attacking students’ education. In 2014, the government tried to deregulate university fees. Students faced $100,000 degrees, and the proposal was only defeated after a sustained campaign led by the National Union of Students.
Last year, the government attempted to cut $2.8 billion from higher education, but they were unable to pass the cuts through parliament after another NUS-led fightback.
Despite the fact that mass student protests have stopped education cuts three times in a row, they are trying to attack students’ rights again.
The Liberal government has now passed the latest cuts without having to confront parliament.
Proposed measures such as a lifetime borrowing limit for students and a lower repayment threshold still require parliamentary approval, and still have a chance to be stopped.
At the same time the government is cutting funding to education they are putting $3.6 billion into military spending.
The NUS has called for National Days of Action on March 26 for Western Australia, and held them on March 21 for the rest of the nation, for students to protest the cuts and demand that their education is protected. The goals of the NDAs are to force the government to repeal the cuts that have already gone through and prevent the proposed measures from receiving support in parliament.
NUS Education Officer Con Karavias says that the funding cuts will directly impact students:
“Without this funding, universities around Australia will be stretched, and forced to cut resources, courses and staff”.
Curtin University alone will suffer $86 million in cuts—the highest cuts in Western Australia.
Curtin Student Guild Councillor Caitlin Egloff-Barr says Curtin students need to come to the National Day of Action in order to fight the education cuts.
“We need to use the power that students have,” said Egloff-Barr, “and have a mass movement which says that they are very strongly against these cuts.”
The Curtin section of the National Day of Action will meet at 1pm outside the Curtin Student Guild offices and will join the central protest at 2pm in Solidarity Park, West Perth.