Sunday, April 27, 2008

Howard Government destroyed our youth with user pays

It will take years - possibly decades - for the wickedness of the Howard Government to loosen its grip on Australian society. And it is our young brightest minds, our ‘future’ who are paying the highest price.

In today’s Sunday Pravda we learn that the La Trobe University women’s football team had to forgo trips to Vietnam and Thailand because they had to pay $700 to go to the Gold Coast in Queensland to play football. Prior to the Howard Government’s abolition of compulsory student union fees they could have got to the Gold Coast for only $300 with the remaining portion of their costs then being cross subsidised by non-sports playing students. At this cost they could afford to go to Queensland and take an overseas trip.

It is worse than this elsewhere – the Deakin University volleyball club has folded.

It just isn’t fair! Hang your head in shame, John Howard. Shame! Shame! Shame!.....


rabee said...

OK have you noticed the change in university student culture?

University student culture traditionally provides extracurricular education that's rather important. Notice the difference between students that simply attend lectures and spend the rest of their time working and students that live a university life. Those that engage in university life seem to be better rounded intellectuals.

My feeling is that we are losing the intellectual ambiance of our universities. Not because of the way we teach, but because students seem to hang around less at universities than they used to.

I'm worried about this phenomenon.

Simon said...

I was one of those who had to work my way through uni. Lo, now as a consequence I find that I'm a less well rounded intellectual.Maybe I should have spent more time at the uni coffee shop.

davidp said...

Hi Rabee,

I think there is evidence that students work more but this is a trend that began a long time ago - well before VSU.

I feel I have far too little contact with students to assess any changes in intellectual ambience.

My memories of being an undergraduate (and one who was pretty engaged in uni-life for a commuter student) is that there were people who were engaged in university life who had broader interests and those who were engaged in uni life who didn't (certain residential colleges certainly didn't have a reputation for rounding the intellectual life of their students).

It is probably easier for students to find information and arguments outside of uni than was the case pre-WWW so perhaps it is not surprising uni is less of a focus now - even for those with the inclination to become more rounded.

Just a few thoughts...

Francis Xavier Holden said...

The only time I went to uni was as a post grad - no undergrad qual - with kids , mortgage, and a fulltime job.

I was required to pay an absurd amount to student union personed by upper middleclass snobs of a kneejerk leftist bent - an absurd amount of this monies I was taxed eended up paying for booze grounds, trips and facilities for sports/misogynist clubs - I was less concercerned that greens, libs, nazis, labs and assorted immature political nuts got some monies. And was even less concerned that a few decent bands were given gigs and paid for.

I think I got a free sausage each year for my $300+ fees. I do know that when I needed to access their services once about challenging admin I was treated with appropriate disdain and condescension deserved to a besuited male by a female private school knee jerk lefty student employee/politician.

Yes campus life possibly has gone downhill but VSU was doing fuck all to support it anyway.

The Worst of Perth said...

Like FX H, I've always found it a bit hard to have sympathy for the guilds as they all seem to be such wankers. (That is the elected types rather than the paid full time staff who are usually pretty good.) I suppose you have to be a wanker to be elected at any level of society, and we begrudge giving them any money accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Harry's logic could be applied to taxes overall.

Like the last writer I disliked paying it as I got little out of it but I voted for change in elections.

Unfortunately not a lot of other students agreed with me.

Same with Federal elections.

It is strange what the majority vote for sometimes but that is democracy.

Harry obviously doesn't like nor did Howard.

patrick said...

Those that engage in university life seem to be better rounded intellectuals.

That is pure shite. The only way they were better rounded was in knowing more about beer, spirits and maybe even wine. If that.

Sad sook.

rabee said...

Hi David,

One thing that one can experience from being engaged in a university environment is sustained focused debate. The type that can go on for days and years. University student politics is one example; but there are a broad spectrum of important issues being debated by students outside lecture rooms but on university campus. This is perhaps one of the more important aspects of university life.

The WWW really is no substitute for this. Reading blogs is basically a passive activity---allowing brief sniping in the form of comments. There is no opportunity to debate issues for any reasonable length of time.

Prior to the WWW and prior to the "Eternal September" (see wiki) usenet used to come close to mimicking the intellectual environment one can perhaps still experience in a university.

I do feel that VSU'ism was one of many policies that have diminished our universities.

Anonymous said...

As someone who spent a lot of time buried in books (I was a very shy late-bloomer), the sheer number of formal ECAs available on campus was overwhelming; and I was thrilled to have had access to them. I did my undergrad pre-VSU, and while the fees seemed quite high to me, I can see why it was worth it.

University clubs and societies provide a service not just to students in the form of a more rounded education, as mentioned, or in the formation of campus student culture. They also provide the surrounding community access to these resource (yes, it pays higher fees for the access, but at least the activities are available). Some activities, like sailing, are sometimes otherwise inaccessible because of high costs involved in participating outside. Some are hardly available outside a uni setting or a professional context.

An example is the Melbourne University Choral Society, which has a number of long-serving members who are in the workforce and not Melbourne Uni students. Some were students and stayed on for years or even decades after. They give freely of their time, and volunteer in helping the running of the society and concerts. In turn, it provides them the rare opportunity to learn and perform in a professional setting, large and complex choral works.

These activities give students the fora and common ground and context in which to form friendships, build rapport and relationships with each other and with the outside world, and vice versa; to be exposed to a variety of people, etc etc. For those who have not been exposed to the working world and "real-world" issues, these settings provide these students a chance to build the springboard they'll need to face them confidently.

Uni is a place to try things and test oneself, and I like that uni campuses provide that kind of serendipity and exposure. I also think it's great that the setting allows people to "catch up" in areas in which they were underdeveloped before, or wanted to upskill in. And if VSU narrows that scope of exposure, it's sad.

Having said that, I share the dissatisfaction of some of the posters here with funds misuse. I think the use of money by the student union should be and always have been subject to strict transparency and reporting rules; stricter, even, if only because in some cases they were being handled by irresponsible children.

- Marie

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