Thank you for allowing me to attend the Education Conference at UNSW last week. It was a productive week where I learned about the experiences many other student guilds, unions and councils have had across a range of educational issues from the fight with the government over deregulation to smaller matters like anonymous marking. I will present a full and proper summary of the conference at a later date to council.
One of the things coming out the the conference that really motivated me was the lack of transparency around the university’s finances. What I do know is that Murdoch posted a loss last year and that they use the fees of undergraduate students, particularly international students, to subsidise research, in the pursuit of higher university rankings. They also cross subsidise various undergraduate courses, with the less prestigious or cheaper to teach courses used as cash cows to fund flagship programs. Now I’m not against cross subsidies as a principle but I think as students if we demand a greater level of accountability about where are money is going and how the university is using it then we can gain traction to demand better quality teaching and services from the university. I hope to gain the support of student members of Academic Council, School Boards and the NTEU in pursuit of this goal. I hope I can count on council support also.
There is an exciting protest against deregulation coming up on the 19th of August. In case councilors were unaware, despite my pre budget prediction, deregulation remains in the federal government’s budget papers and parliamentary spies believe will be re-introduced to the parliament in August. We had a great turnout last year, the first time deregulation was on the line and I hope we can rally good numbers of students against higher university fees. Posters advertising the rally will be going up this week but for the benefit of council, it will be 2pm at Murray St Mall on the 19th of August. Bring your friends and smash the state.
The Guild Wiki project remains stalled due to exams, leave and conferences. I take full responsibility and promise to deliver this important service in time for the start of next semester. It is my number one priority. I hope I can count on council to help spread the word when it is ready to go. There will be Sir Walter’s vouchers available for students who help create content on the wiki.
The general secretary and myself met with the interim director of the library a few weeks ago in response to the pressing demands of students who are fed up with the library’s woefully inadequate after hours study space.l Of course the library has a plan but it is literally years away from fruition and will no doubt be altered 20 times before ever being realised. Murdoch appears to be satisfied in being least least provisioned public university in the state with the lowest quality of student amenities. I would like to thank the clubs officer and Guild member David Giang for their assistance with the petition.