No Fees for Degrees!
26-06-2020: Not content with running Universities into the ground through decades of funding cuts, the Federal Government is now blatantly embarking on another multi-pronged attack on the higher education sector. In a speech to the National Press Club, Liberal National Party (LNP) Minister for Education Dan Tehan announced massive fee hikes for Arts, Law and Commerce degrees alongside large fee reductions for degrees in Maths and Agriculture (by 62%). Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages fees will drop by 46%. In an obviously targeted blast, tuition fees for Humanities degrees will more than double (by 113%). Fees for Law and Commerce degrees will increase by 28%, while fees for medical, dentistry and veterinary science will not change. Science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and Engineering degrees will cost 20% less than what they were previously.
Falling behind Red China
Some have commented that conservative governments routinely denigrate faculties such as the Humanities as “useless”, and favour University studies for “real” work like Engineering, and this latest move is a continuation of that trend. Though there is much in this critique that is true, it is also the case that the booming socialist economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)– despite being saddled with a conservative and nationalist political leadership – is leaving the flailing economies of the capitalist West in the dust. This is particularly apparent in the stupendous advances in science and technology that the PRC is demonstrating on a regular basis. For example, no country has been able to attempt, let alone effect, a soft landing on the dark side of the moon – apart from the PRC. In early January 2019 the China National Space Administration (CNSA) successfully landed the lunar rover Chang’e-4 on the far side of the moon, where the USA and the USSR never managed to tread. The PRC is now a scientific power, accompanying its rise as an economic and, therefore, political power.
The PRC aims to become a global innovator by 2050, and its largely collectivised and planned economy enables billions of yuan (China’s currency) to be fed into state backed science and technology research and development. The results are plain to see. It is estimated that by 2017, some 8 million students had graduated from Chinese universities, which was a ten-fold increase over the previous 20-year period, and doubled the number graduating from US universities. China’s share of global scientific papers virtually tripled from 6.4% in 2003 to 18.2% in 2013 – second only to the US at 18.8%. A glance at such stats reveals some of the real basis for Western anti-China hysteria.
Australia’s lack of student performance in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) is largely a result of the dire lack of tertiary education funding, for which both Labor and Liberal governments have been to blame. This crisis has alarmed sections of the Australian ruling class itself, as it was glaring. As far back as 2015, the Australian Industry Group explicitly called for the implementation of strategies to increase the number of undergraduates in the STEM disciplines.
Coronavirus used as a false pretext
Covid-19 manufactured hysteria is clearly being used as a cover for the most severe attack on working class people since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Inhumane and life-taking lockdowns, economic shutdowns, and wave after wave of job cuts have been blamed on a “virus”. It is nothing of the sort. Covid-19 is, at worst, a mild illness which may possibly contribute to a slightly increased danger for those with very advanced age and/or chronic adverse health conditions. In reality, the ruling elites of the West have been gunning for imperialist war against China, Russia, Iran and others for at least ten years. Having been blocked in this quest by Russia, Syria, Iran and the DPRK, the billionaire class used the opportunity of a coronavirus to instead wage war against “their own” workers. The current assault by Canberra on the right of working people to tertiary education should be seen in this context.
This is the main reason why all those who stand in opposition to the latest funding cuts to higher education must at the same time shed any allegiance to the fake “pandemic” narrative. The very same politicians that are now ripping more taxpayer dollars from Universities are the very same ones which have enacted a totalitarian nightmare against the masses from one end of the country to another. These very same politicians who are now attempting to discourage students from studying the Humanities are the very same ones who have effectively abolished freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement under the truthless slogan of “staying safe”. Infatuated with the amount of power handed to them, these politicians have attempted to enforce blind and unthinking submission to authority on a disoriented populace.
Without exception, and without asking, the corporate politicians have received willing assistance in the waging of a vicious attack on working people by treacherous Union officials and the clueless parties of the “lockdown left”. Abandoning even a display of token defiance to the capitalism they claim to oppose, these charlatans have been the most enthusiastic enforcers of the absurd and logic-defying Covid-19 rules such as isolation of the healthy and “social-distancing”. That is, they did not hesitate to act as state troopers against workers who so much as questioned the coronavirus fairytales.
Education is a right which must be fought for. It must be free, from kindergarten to the most advanced University tuition. Students should not be burdened with onerous debts while the 600 largest corporations in Australia pay little or no tax. If capitalism in the 21st century cannot provide free education, then let it perish. What is required is a working-class fightback against every manifestation of the onslaught waged under the cover of a pathogen, from lockdowns to job cuts, to university fee hikes, to imperialist war. Socialism offers the only salvation from a world in crisis, but it must be built by workers who are free from those who would force them to wear face masks – the mark of a slave. NO FEES FOR DEGREES! FOR FREE EDUCATION!
PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012
 (Australian Industry Group – Progressing STEM Skills in Australia (2015))