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Protecting universities from coalition interference

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H igher E ducation and E mployment S ervices B74 T H E H O N . P E T E R B A L D W I N M . P . 4/11/92


The Government today introduced a number of amendments to the Higher Education Funding Act, including a previously unsuccessful proposal to protect universities from any State Government interference in relation to the provision of student services.

Under these amendments any State Government interfering in university decisions on the provision of student services would have to make good any costs so imposed on a university.

Earlier attempts (December 1990) to introduce the new provisions failed due to a lack of support from the Democrats. Higher Education Minister, Peter Baldwin reintroduced the Bill following a change of heart by the Democrats who have now decided to support the amendments.

"Student organisations provide a wide range of services to their members - including counselling, sporting, health and careers services" Mr Baldwin, said.

"In the past, some States have interfered with the rights of institutions to make their own decisions about imposing or collecting fees for the provision of these services.

"I emphasise that these amendments do not impose compulsory membership of student organisations. Membership decisions properly belong to individual institutions. This is the Labor Party's consistent position.

The Liberal Party, on the other hand, wants to conduct a political vendetta against student organisations, and is prepared to massively invade university autonomy to do i t '

"Under Liberal policy, universities could charge fees for services they provide themselves - but not for any service provided by a student organisation.

Under proposed amendments I have obtained from Liberal Party sources, they would define a 'student organisation' as any organisation with students comprising 25 percent or more of its board membership.-— ---------------------------------- ------- _------------------------------------------------------- ---

"Under the Liberals, even university-provided services could not have effective student representation on the governing board.

"It is clear that the Liberals' purpose in this is purely political - the destruction of student representative bodies. They would be prepared to sacrifice university autonomy and other student services to achieve this end.

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