Despite facing backlash, protests, and worrying One Nation deals, the government has officially passed their university funding cuts. Expect your Arts degree to become a lot more expensive.
Earlier this week, the university funding cuts the Liberal Government has been threatening for months passed the Senate, with support from Centre Alliance and One Nation.
The cuts will hit humanitarian, environmental, and law courses the hardest, with some degrees expected to cost up to 113% more than they currently do.
The bill will see an overall cut in government contribution to universities from 58% to 52%, however, some courses such as Science will actually become cheaper under the new system.
The bill has seen widespread backlash from critics who believe it will make it more difficult for disadvantaged Australian’s to attend university. Speaking in front of parliament, Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi said, “This bill is cruel. This bill is punitive. This bill is an irredeemable mess. This bill is shit.”
We won’t rest until the uni fee hikes are repealed and uni and TAFE are free for all. pic.twitter.com/rCvhcY8dpR
— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) October 9, 2020
Shadow education minister Tanya Plibersek also heavily criticised the bill, warning that Year 12 students who have already had to suffer the struggles of a coronavirus-impacted final year of high school will now be facing “American-sized university debt at a time when the unemployment market is the worst it’s been in decades“.
In order to pass the bill, concessions with both Centre Alliance and One Nation were made. Centre Alliance requested a funding increase for South Australian universities and One Nation supported the bill on the basis it would include protection to freedom of speech that will make it harder for universities to discipline racist or sexist academics. Yikes.
The introduction of the bill also lead to widespread protests at Sydney University. The peaceful protests were met with police violence as students were dragged and thrown to the ground by members of the NSW police force.
In a statement from the University, the Dean of Sydney University’s School of Law said, “Like many students and staff, I was shocked by the events that occurred on campus yesterday”.
The actions of the police were recorded by student news organisation Honi Soit and attendees of the protest, who posted videos of the violence on their social media on Wednesday.
Police officers violently force students from the road, throwing one young woman to the ground. pic.twitter.com/egb5DkIFyM
— Honi Soit (@honi_soit) October 14, 2020
Students and staff violently suppressed by police for protesting cuts to courses and fee increases #highereducation #auspol #USyd pic.twitter.com/1yQD6CoGea
— jazz (@opinionatedleft) October 14, 2020
Sydney University students are currently fundraising to pay the fines handed out to students for protesting.