Greens launch new discussion paper on future of universities

Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has today launched a new discussion paper, The University of the Future: Higher Education Built on Democracy and Equity. The policy ideas and research in the paper will provide a starting point for richer, more radical conversations about the future of universities.

Contained in the report is Parliamentary Library data analysed by the Greens has revealed that over the past twenty years, the number of elected members on the governing bodies of Australian universities has decreased by 43% from 274 elected members in 2000 to 155 elected members in 2020. As a proportion, in 2000, more than one-third of positions on these bodies were elected. By 2020, it was down to fewer than one in four.

The paper presents research and proposes a number of policy ideas, discussion questions and political actions relating to:

  • University democracy and reclaiming campuses for staff and students; Secure jobs and reversing casualisation;
  • Encouraging student activism and campuses as political spaces;
  • Equity and anti-racism;
  • First Nations knowledges, research, and leadership;
  • Academic freedom; and
  • Free education and abolishing student debt.

Senator Faruqi said:

“For too long, short-sighted governments and private interests have dominated conversations about what higher education should look like in this country.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and reimagine the very purpose of universities. And we have to take the power back from the anti-intellectual governments and private interests that currently run the show.

“The corporatisation of universities by government and neoliberal university management has occurred while staff and student representation on governing bodies has shrunk massively.

“Universities are at a crossroads. They can continue hurtling down a path of corporatisation, austerity and job insecurity, or they can chart a new course based on principles of democracy and equity.

“Universities are a public good. It’s time to start treating them this way once more.”

The full report is available here.

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