“Ripping out our Hearts”- VCA students oppose HECS hike

VCA students ripped [sheeps] hearts from their chests in St Kilda Road this morning to dramatise the effects of an intended 25% increase in tuition fees due to be debated by Council this afternoon.

From a media release issued by the Victorian College of Arts Student Union yesterday (Tuesday):

On Wednesday June 29th, during the university calendar mid-year break, Victorian College of the Arts Council intends to increase domestic VCA student tuition fees by 25%, and international student fees by a further 5%. When measured against the VCA’s 2006 enrolment target this will equate to a $666, 936 increase to College’s earnings whilst it will be students who feel a very real squeeze – now and well into the future.
In 2004 VCA Council decided NOT to increase fees when many other institutions did, largely due to a hard fought campaign by VCA students. However VCA did introduce up front fee places for the first time for domestic undergraduate students at that time – approx $13000 per year.
With students already at risk of losing their student organizations, due to the government’s draconian Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) Legislation, the VCA Council issued a media release refuting the government’s VSU proposal. VCA Council say they support students. These current actions clearly demonstrate otherwise.
The chances of the majority of VCA Graduates paying off their HECS debts are very slim. Many students face great difficulties finding significant employment related to courses they have studied at the VCA, and arts jobs are notoriously low paid. Reduced income potential and ever increasing student debts makes it hard to get car or home loans, etc
“Emergency student loans have been at an all time high this year. VCA cannot keep making students pay more and more – at some point this has to stop,” said Jim Rimmer, VCA Student Union Community Development Officer. Kanishka Karunaratne, VCASU Education Officer, has commented, “The fact that the VCA Council waited until the holidays to try and push through the increase shows that they know students are not going to be happy with this decision. It is the students that make the VCA and the College Council need to remember that. Student fees are already unaffordable and any increase will unduly add to this already significant burden. They can not expect students to pay any more.” “Students are already going to suffer from the governments rampage to lower their working conditions and this can only mean further decreases in student’s living standards. The VCA Council moving to increase HECS fees by an additional 25% contributes further to this assault,” added Alison Hogg, President of the VCA Student Union. Felix Elridge, National Union of Students President exclaimed “It is no surprise that the VCA Council are attempting to increase HECS at a time when students are battling the government’s attacks on student unions. With universities across Australia seeing increasing class sizes, HECS increases, and massive cuts to Government support, this is when students need their student organisations the most!”

Students of the college were planning a further action for 4.30pm, timed to coincide with the Council meeting: turning over-sized cogs and holding up factory walls and smoke stacks to symbolise the turning of universities into degree factories.

Ripping their hearts out:

Students in blooded white overalls simulating ripping out their own hearts

The VCA degree factory:

Cardboard 'factory'