The International Students for Social Equality opposes the planned destruction of hundreds of academic and professional jobs at the University of Sydney. The actions of the university administration are being driven by the Labor government’s pro-market “education revolution” and signify a new stage in its implementation. The Gillard government’s aim is to slash spending per student and deepen the transformation of universities from institutions of academic and intellectual achievement into profit-driven corporate concerns.
On Wednesday, members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and University and College Union (UCU) took 24-hour strike action in London to protest cuts in pension rights.
The stoppages were to have been part of a day of national strike action involving over half a million workers in several trade unions, including the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), the fifth largest in the UK with 290,000 members. Instead the action was isolated and restricted to London only by the education unions, while the PCS called off all action.
The UCU said the strike had affected 46 colleges and 16 universities in the capital. The NUT has 55,000 members across London’s 2,500 schools and said that the affect of its strike would vary from borough to borough.
The department of education said that one-fifth of schools were completely closed and two-fifths had lessons cancelled.
March 28, 2012 by International Students for Social Equality
The International Students for Social Equality condemns the police killing of Roberto Laudisio Curti in Sydney’s CBD on March 18. The young Brazilian student was chased, capsicum sprayed and repeatedly Tasered by six police officers, who were apparently looking for someone who had stolen a packet of biscuits. He posed no threat to police or others and committed no crime.
Young people in Australia, Brazil and around the world are rightly disgusted over the police actions and Laudisio Curti’s tragic death. But the response of the Australian authorities indicates that there will be no justice for the Brazilian student. New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell immediately defended the police and confirmed the continued use of potentially lethal Tasers.
The following comment was first published in French on March 22 in a slightly different form as part of a WSWS/ISSE special bulletin on the Quebec student strike. The bulletin was distributed at that day’s protest march in Montreal. (See: Quebec: Mammoth demonstration in support of strike against university fee hikes.) More than 200,000 Quebec university and CEGEP (pre-university and technical college) students are currently boycotting their classes to oppose the provincial Liberal government’s plan to raise university tuition fees by 75 percent over five years, starting this September.
According to a federal government agency, student loan debt in the US surpassed 1 trillion dollars “several months ago.” The finding, reported by a spokesman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to a banking conference in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, is “much larger” (in his words) than other recent estimates.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York issued a study in early March suggesting that the total student debt had reached $870 billion. The new figure is 16 percent higher than that estimate. This staggering amount is greater than the total owed by Americans on their credit cards or auto loans.
The CFPB announcement, which signifies that a considerable portion of the younger generation will be condemned to decades of debt, will not create a ripple within the American political and media establishment.