By Tang Li
Students across the country have united to protest the federal government’s push for university fee deregulation.
The National Union of Students (NUS) coordinated the National Day of Action (NDA) which saw demonstrations in capital cities across Australia on Wednesday March 25.
Despite the Senate’s continuous rejections, and recent polling that revealed 80 percent of Australians do not support deregulation, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and the federal government still plan to re-introduce the bill until it is passed.
Ridah Hassan, NSW Education Officer for the NUS said that students protested because they “vehemently oppose a privatised US-style education system and $100,000 degrees”.
“Chris Pyne with all his private school, born-to-rule sense of entitlement has said he will ‘never give up’ on deregulation. We will never give up on fighting it – no amount of pepper spray will hold us back,” she said.
Rose Steele, NUS President and Brighter Future campaign spokesperson said that student voices represented the majority of the people affected by the proposed reforms yet had not been taken seriously.
“Our NDA marks an important milestone in our campaign, where our on-ground activities will kick off to keep the pressure on the government to listen to the key stakeholders in this issue: students and their families,” she said.
“A government that ignores our voice is not a government that represents us. We deserve better than that.”
The NSW President for the NUS, Chloe Smith, said Mr Pyne had been pursuing deregulation for over 18 months despite it being strongly opposed to by the public and the Senate.
“He has spent millions of dollars on an advertising campaign which hasn’t convinced anyone. On every front, Pyne has been a total failure. He’s just got to go,” she said.