Students gather for uni fees protest

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A police officer watches over the protesters. Photo: Tomas Kuru

TOMAS KURU

Students, politicians and members of the Nation Tertiary Education Union marched through Brisbane CBD on Tuesday to protest increasing fees and lowering of the HECS threshold.

The march started in King George Square then, with a police escort, snaked it’s way around the city, ending in front of the Parliament Offices at Waterfront Place.

Similar protests took place simultaneously in every major city around Australia as well as Woolongong and Cairns.

As of July 2018 the threshold for HECS, the student loan system in Australia, will be lowered from $55,000 to $42,000, meaning students will have to pay back university debts sooner.

University fees will also increase 1.8% every year until 2021 when it will total at 7.5%.

Although the focus of the protest was on the increase in fees, attendees of the protest waved banners calling for an end to uni fees altogether.

National Union of Students (NUS) member Reeshan Yameen said she felt that the new fees were unfair.

“A small 8% increase here, a $2.8 million cut there will lead to bigger attacks on students,” Ms Yameen said.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts.”

 

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Demonstrators sit down on the Queen/Edward Street intersection. Photo: Tomas Kuru

Greens Senate hopeful Andrew Bartlett said affordable education in Australia is a long time coming.

“I’m one of those fortunate people who did get their university degrees for free before it was changed,” Mr Bartlett said.

“It’s all gone in one direction since, but we can reverse that direction.”

Demonstrators remained optimistic that their voice and opinions will be heard by politicians and onlookers.

NUS Queer officer Lauren Sau reminded everyone about successful protests against fee deregulation by the Liberal government in 2014.

“When 10,000 students marched across the nation, we stopped $100,000 degrees from becoming reality” Ms Sau said.

“Free education in Australia is totally doable and totally possible.”

Out of all the major parties, only the Greens are dedicated to free tertiary education.

 

 

 

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