The finish of trimester 2 has been a collective sigh of relief for tired and stressed students, not least myself. For me I am just feeling very tired at the end of the trimester. For those of you that know me, student, farmer, husband and father, keeping the balls in the air this year has been challenging. Time and rain are my most the limiting factors at the moment – so, may I have an extra day a week and can I order a couple of inches of rain this week. The federal election has thrown up changes. The new federal education minister, Chris Pyne, hit the ground running and went off like a bomb in the first few weeks of this new coalition government. Tertiary education reform was on his agenda, although his colleagues did not seem to have the same enthusiasm for it. Some of the brain explosions have been: capping university places that are most likely to affect school leavers and does have ring of elitism; comparing SSAF to compulsory unionism and misrepresenting and confusing SSAF with the former general service fee; and the biggy: privatisation of HECS debt which would mean tertiary education would be for sale to the highest bidder. All these can be described as policy on the run and all of it damaging to UNE students, the future problem-solvers. It will be a long three years for regional universities if the first month is anything to go by.
The wheels continue to turn slowly for the students’ association, student clubs and societies. Goalposts have over the last eighteen months continuously changed. And the student representatives and UNESA have identified and resolved issues big and small at every turn. Mistakenly, I believe the administration in its monolithic way expects the students’ association to give up. I believe there is nothing malicious in what is going on; it is the symptom of change and an administration not capable or adaptable to the student voice. It is with a wry grin that I contemplate the irony of resistance.
To my mind there seems to be a dissonance between the current objects and the necessary outcomes of tertiary education at UNE. We pay homage to reputation and value the brand that is a UNE degree of past graduates. The creation of the current legacy of a great outcome is in no way insured for a generation of students who have been subject to massive changes, changes that affect the fundamental premise of tertiary education as career preparation of a critical thinker. It is hard enough to be a clear thinker let alone a critical thinker without communication strategy that is bound in respect.
The UNESA board has been working hard to build the foundations of a resilient student voice at UNE. Take the opportunity to drop us a line with your thoughts and ideas for what we are doing well and how we might do this better. Nucleus is another avenue to make your voice heard and I am sure the editors will welcome your contributions.
For those embarking on trimester 3 good luck and I hope trimester 2 results are all you wished for.
It is worth remembering ‘Reaction in others is often a reflection of you.’
- David Mailler, UNESA President