"The Turnbull Government is inviting students, parents, employers, higher education providers and peak bodies to consult on its proposed changes to higher education – including slashing federal funding and fee deregulation for flagship courses.
"Let's leave no doubt in the committee's mind what the community thinks about the Coalition's privatisation agenda for public education. Will you make a submission before the deadline this coming Monday 25 July?"
I have written the following email, but not yet pressed send. I'm hoping it's sufficiently polite as well as adequately forceful. While I doubt submissions that aren't accompanied by large sums of money will sway anyone on the committee, Feedback would be appreciated - and please, if you care about this issue, please follow the link above and make a submission of your own by Monday. Thank you.
To the members of the Government Inquiry into Higher Education Funding,
I am a lecturer and tutor at the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University, and I have first hand experience of what has already been done to the universities by making them increasingly dependent on up-front fees. Classes are nearly twice the size they were a mere four years ago, and the number of tutorials per semester has been reduced, purely for budgetary reasons. Rather than pay tutors for the hours needed to mark twice as many assignments, assessment has been reduced from two assignments per semester to one - meaning that students no longer have a concrete indication of their progress in a course until the end of semester, a week before the exam. Tutorials are being replaced by lectures, meaning that students receive less individual attention. Administrative staff have been downsized, and the academic staff have had to shoulder the burden of the extra administrative work on top of the demands of teaching and grading the increased number of students. The current system is already unfair to both students and teaching staff, and the proposed short-sighted changes would make it far worse.
Australia's economy can not afford to rely on mining booms and the demand for its non-renewable resources. As automation reduces the need for human labour, leading to a decrease in job security and rising underemployment, this country will need a greater proportion of educated, innovative people to ensure our future.
Stephen Dedman PhD