The student organisation Students Against Cuts (SAC) is holding protests at Victoria University of Wellington and at Massey’s Pukeahu campus to express their anger at staff and course cuts at their universities. “Today is Open Day at Victoria University and Massey University Wellington. The universities will try to attract prospective students with promises of a world-class education and present a glossy picture of the student experience they provide,” explains Matt Russel, a SAC spokesperson from Massey University’s Manawatu campus, “the actual state of affairs is that tertiary education in New Zealand is sustaining real damage at the hands of university management and the government.”
“Allowing for inflation, the current Labour government has driven through the deepest annual cuts to funding of New Zealand universities since 1984. Rather than addressing this issue at its root, university management have instead chosen to make students and staff bear the cost of this through short-sighted job and course cuts. The cumulative effect of the cuts being carried out by university management nationwide could end up amounting to the removal of one entire university.”
Students at Victoria University and Massey University’s Wellington campus will be holding demonstrations and covering their campuses with posters, leaflets and banners to express their frustration at the disparity between the images presented by university advertising and the reality of tertiary education for students. “We are sick of seeing universities sell themselves as these amazing, welcoming places that value learning, while at the same time they hack away at staffing, courses and services,” says Serah Alison, a SAC spokesperson from Victoria University. “students have to go into crippling debt, live in cold, damp, overpriced accommodation, and to try to scrape by on tiny allowances, only to be told that they can’t get the education they were promised. The courses have been cut, their teachers are losing their jobs, and face-to-face learning is being replaced with online learning. If the universities keep going along this course, all their big promises will just be false advertising.” According to SAC, many students are worried they will not be able to complete their chosen qualifications at all, and university management is not providing the information that students require to plan their degrees.
“Massey University and Victoria University see prospective students as dollar signs, and Open Days as an opportunity to sell their brand,” says Massey Wellington SAC spokesperson Romany Tasker-Poland. “We have a different view. We see Open Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about the attacks that are happening at universities across the country, and to encourage current and prospective students to stand up and demand better.”
Students Against Cuts is an organisation of students from Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University who are organising against staff and course cuts at their universities, and for a sustainably funded tertiary education system that serves the needs of students, staff and the wider community.