Melbourne Uni Students Are Protesting The Hell Out Of Higher Education Fees By Locking Themselves To Stuff


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The Senate is due to debate the government’s controversial higher education reforms later today, which would deregulate uni course fees and give students less government assistance. To show their lack of enthusiasm for the idea, two Melbourne Uni students, Joshua Tynan and Maggie Dunleavy, have taken matters into their own hands by snapping D-locks around their necks and locking themselves to a ladder on campus.

Tynan and Dunleavy, who are still locked on inside Melbourne Uni’s Future Students Info Centre, have been there for over two hours at the time of writing, and plan to stay there “indefinitely”. Maggie is a history major, while Josh studies horticulture.

“Deregulating uni fees will make uni even more inaccessible than it already is,” Dunleavy told Junkee via phone with a heavy-duty lock around her neck. “Education isn’t a privilege, it should be for everyone.”

They also have good couples-banter.

Also, Maggie’s got a pretty decent singing voice.

A number of Melbourne university campuses have had lock-on protests of their own over the last few weeks. Earlier this month Monash students staged a protest using plumbing pipes and D-locks, while on October 20 five La Trobe students locked down outside Vice Chancellor John Dewar’s office in memory of Gough Whitlam, who introduced free higher education during his Prime Ministership.

The actions have generated a heap of interest, with politicians and commentators tweeting out their support via the hashtag #freeeducation.

Yesterday Pyne spruiked the government’s higher education reforms in Question Time, saying that they would create opportunities for 80,000 young Australians year-on-year once they were introduced.

Pyne’s reforms have a lot of top-heavy support; despite vocal protests from students and staff groups, uni deregulation is supported by Universities Australia, the Group of 8, the Regional Uni Network and the Council of Private Higher Education. University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence said yesterday that letting unis charge higher fees for courses would let unis give out more scholarships, a concept that didn’t go down particularly well with a lot of people.

Despite Pyne’s tough talk, the government hasn’t made much leeway in securing support for its controversial reforms. A few days ago the Herald reported that the government is considering significantly watering down the reforms to secure the necessary crossbench support, but even that doesn’t look like it will be enough. Clive Palmer came out yesterday reiterating that the Palmer United Party will not vote for uni fee deregulation, leaving the government with seriously limited means of finding the numbers it needs in the Senate.

Maggie and Josh’s sympathies were limited.

Feature image via @joshua_tynan/Twitter.