The COVID-19 pandemic has seen universities
across the country plunge into financial crisis, with the higher education
sector set to lose up to $6 billion and UWA is facing a loss of $64 million
from its core revenue. Despite this, the Federal Government has refused to step
up, and with budgets becoming tighter it’s no secret that higher education will
be first on the line for funding cuts.
However, this crisis hasn’t just created problems within the sector, it has exposed the flaws of the current Australian model that has resulted in a reliance on private investment as Government funding is progressively cut. It’s time for a reformation of Higher Ed in Australia.
This semester at UWA, we have seen a rapid shift to online learning, and a decrease in the quality of our educational experience. Online lectures, tutorials and practical classes simply do not match up to the experience of face-to-face learning. Staff have had to work to quickly adjust to these changes, many of whom are severely burnt-out from the extremely demanding circumstances we face. While these changes to teaching were necessary given the pandemic, students can agree that their learning experience has suffered as a result. We must work to ensure University learning conditions and educational quality bounce back as rapidly as possible.
However, with lack of Government support as well as Universities losing massive amounts of revenue, cuts to staff seem almost inevitable. In our current educational state, staff and students can’t afford further decreases to our quality of education or teaching conditions. Students and educators deserve a stable future and a better outcome, and we should not have to be the ones to bear the cost of the pandemic. We know that cuts are coming to UWA and as students, we stand against them.
As students, it’s important that we stand in solidarity with our staff and fight for better outcomes. Staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions and it won’t be long before we see these cuts negatively impact our University experience.
So as a student studying at UWA, how will these cuts affect you? Some potential outcomes include:
· Fewer unit selections
· Fewer class availabilities
· Cancellation of courses
· Larger class sizes
· Less face-to-face contact hours
· Smaller tutor to student ratio
· Diminishing student services
· Higher tuition fees
To raise awareness about staff cuts as well as fight for a higher quality education for UWA Students, the UWA Student Guild has created a UWA Students Against Cuts Campaign which encompass the following demands:
1. Oppose all cuts to educational quality at UWA: including cuts to courses, pre-recorded lectures, cuts to contact hours
2. Solidarity with UWA staff and opposition to all reductions to staff conditions and pay including KPI’s and benchmarking for staff.
3. Free and fully funded higher education
So far this semester we have hosted a Solidarity with Staff Sit-In as well as our very first Open EAN Meeting to discuss our upcoming campaign. If you want to get more involved, make sure you like UWA Students Against Cuts, like Education Action Network UWA and join the UWA Education Action Network group to keep up to date.
BRE SHANAHAN & EMMA MEZGER
Guild President & Education Council President