Four decades of marketisation has all but ruined our universities. Vice-chancellors pay themselves huge salaries while presiding over wage theft of their employees. Universities charge higher fees than ever yet offer a worse education. Overworked, under-paid casual employees take on more and more of the teaching, marking and administration, knowing that they will have no income at the end of semester. Meanwhile, permanent academics face spiralling workloads and the constant fear of another round of redundancies. Vice-chancellors cry poor while building their universities’ real estate portfolios, only to post a budget surplus each year. Of course, our universities need more federal funding – but they also need to break with the market and profit-oriented model of education they have become addicted to. Because Victorian universities operate under state legislation, the state government has an important role to play in ensuring that our universities serve the public good. Higher education is a human right and a social good, not a commodity.
What we think
- Universities provide a public good and should not be privately owned, market-oriented or run on a for-profit basis.
- Access to higher education is a social right.
- University workers deserve job security, good conditions, reasonable workloads and to be paid fairly.
- University research should not be dictated by market needs.
- Universities should be democratised; students and university workers should have a say in how universities are run.
- Technical and Further Education (TAFE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) are essential parts of the higher education system and should be funded accordingly.
What we'll fight for
Save our universities
- Conduct an immediate investigation into wage theft, encompassing all types of wage theft alleged by casual university workers, and require universities to compensate affected workers.
- Make permanent positions available to all casual university workers who have worked for three months or more non-continuously in the last year.
- Reduce workloads on academic and professional staff, and reduce research output requirements.
- Audit university finances and holdings to discover hidden revenue available for immediate reinvestment in staff, education and research.
- Amend laws governing universities to:
- Ban profit-seeking and revenue accumulation, and require universities to reinvest all proceeds into education.
- Ban universities from employing more than 5 percent of staff on a casual basis.
- Cap management salaries and peg all increases to university workers’ wage increases.
- Ban higher fees for international students.
- Ban universities from claiming research unless they compensate or employ the author/s.
- Shift away from competitive metrics such as journal rankings, numbers of citations, publications, etc. in assessing job applicants, and emphasise qualitative forms of evaluation.
- Mandate elections for all university council positions. Restrict for-profit research partnerships between universities and businesses; all research funding must be publicly controlled.
- Demand the federal government boost funding to meet the costs of the above and to expand research funding. Where genuine funding shortfalls exist, give universities state grants to cover them.
- Demand the federal government abolish all university fees and reinstate free tertiary education.
Vocational education and training and community education
- Audit the VET sector to identify and deregister low-quality and dodgy private providers, particularly those with links to the JobActive system.
- Boost funding to the TAFE sector to ensure that the majority of VET providers are publicly funded and controlled.
- Require non-government Registered Training Organisations to operate on a not-for-profit basis.
- Democratise TAFEs, with councils elected by staff and students.
- Have apprentices paid full wages.
- Fund community and adult education providers to make short courses widely available.
- Demand that the federal government cancel all outstanding student debts.
- Demand that the federal government make Austudy available to everyone in tertiary education and raise it to the poverty line. Short of this, grant students a supplementary allowance to compensate.
- Build high-quality, not-for-profit student housing near campuses.