Fees protest at VCA – 17 June

(First posted at Melbourne Indymedia.)

VCA students staged a small (about 40) but lively protest in St Kilda Road today – which was supposed to be the day Council would meet to decide on HECS increases. But the meeting was shifted to 6 July – safely into vacation time …

Media release from VCA students:

For immediate release: Thursday 17th June

VCA Student Protest: How low can you go?

Dance students from the Victorian College of the Arts will today put on a colourful protest in front of the Arts Centre and “do the limbo” under a plank emblazoned with “student poverty line”. Accompanied by music students, the performance will highlight the theme “How low can you go?”, commenting on governance concerns, student poverty and cuts to arts education.

June 17th was widely advertised amongst the VCA community as the day of VCA Council’s decision on HECS increases and the possible introduction of upfront fees for domestic undergraduates. The meeting was consequently moved to July 6th, during semester break. Fee increases are a concern for VCA students with recent Australia Council for the Arts figures demonstrating that more than half of Australia’s creative artists earn less than $7,300 per annum. The resolution of VCA’s funding crisis created by the Nelson’s reforms is still being negotiated between DEST, the University of Melbourne and VCA.

“This is the feared ‘death by one thousand cuts’”, said Jacqueline Grenfell VCASU president, “Nelson ripped $5.4 million out of VCA’s funding, the State government has failed to renew funding previously forwarded to stave off the introduction of upfront fees, HECS increases of 25% are imminent – these financial factors could have a devastating effect on the VCA and wider arts community.”

Graham Smith, VCASU’s Education Officer stated: “What we are seeing at VCA is financial blackmail. The Howard government is withholding 35% of the college’s funding in order to bully the VCA Council into hiking up fees for students to plug the shortfall.”

Students marching with 'poverty line'  - yellow tape

The Poverty Line

Dog with t-shirt - D-Day for VCA

The dog visible on the previous photo:

Students performing 'poverty line limbo' -under the yellow tape

Poverty-Line Limbo outside the Arts Centre

No-fees banners at Arts Centre balcony

Banner drop at Arts Centre

(The original post included a very brief video clip of the ‘Poverty Line Limbo’ which unfortunately has to be omitted here.)