Jacqui Lambie’s Savage Take-Down Of Uni Fee Hikes Is Super Relevant During COVID

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

If you’re a student (or planning to be one), then you’ve probably already heard about how the government recently announced a university fee overhaul that would see arts and communications cost the same as medical degrees.

The proposed fee hikes have caused mass anxiety and outrage as high school students who are already affected by coronavirus are now worried about the viability of studying at university.

However, in a pleasantly surprising twist of events, Jacqui Lambie has come out with a savage take down of the proposed university fee hikes, proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

In a fierce statement (shown above), Senator Lambie took no prisoners as she called out how the hikes unfairly target and victimise poor students, and how the government is rigging university fees to favour the wealthy.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the vote that tells the country that poor people don’t get dream jobs,” she said.

“It just means the wealthier you are, the cheaper university becomes. It’s just a good break for those who’ve enjoyed more than a few good breaks.”

In regards to the proposal that effectively kicks out students that fail half their subjects in first year, Jacquie Lambie criticised it as contradictory to the idea of giving people a fair go, noting that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are more affected by this than others.

She also called out the fact that it’s usually wealthier kids that can afford to study full time and live on campus away from home who then perform better, and so the move is inherently rigged to support rich students.

“I can’t support a bill that reserves its harshest hits for our poorest kids.”

When discussing the decreasing of other university courses, Lambie said she was down for some fee overhauls, but noted “we’re not going to get to that point if every step along the way we’re just indulging these weird and obscure culture wars where universities are the enemy and the working class are collateral damage.”

I never thought I’d say this, but go off sis!

Jacqui Lambie’s criticisms of the fee hikes are super relevant at the moment considering how badly our government has been handling issues of poverty during the current pandemic.

With our government leaving international students with no income or financial aid (despite bringing in BILLIONS to our economy), slashing of JobKeeper payments this week and maintaining a welfare payment that’s below the poverty line, poverty among students is becoming worse.

Pair this with our government’s insistence that the economy is the priority (over, you know, real human lives), and it’s pretty hard to not be disillusioned by the people that run our country.

There’s actually been new research released that shows just how badly the pandemic has hit students, and it’s a reminder that fighting the uni fee hikes needs to be a priority to support students in these tough times.

Instructure surveyed over 7000 students and then released a report discussing the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education students, and it’s about as crappy as you’d think.

Nearly 68 per cent of Australian students reported that they’re falling behind on their studies because of the pandemic, and unsurprisingly, the affects are disproportionately negative on lower-income students.

Students who identified as growing up in wealthier households were 3.2x more likely to report feeling super engaged in their coursework than their poorer peers (39 per cent vs 12 per cent).

As COVID-19 forced students to move from in-person to online, people from financially disadvantaged homes were 5.8x times more likely to report struggling to stay engaged during remote learning, compared to their wealthier peers (53 per cent vs. 9 per cent).

Considering poorer students also don’t have the same access to resources as wealthier students (stable internet, a quiet space to study, a personal device to access content from), it makes sense that online courses are harder.

Poor students are already suffering under coronavirus, and we don’t know how long these remote learning measures are going to be here for. Most of us university students have still been paying the same price for uni experience that’s quality has significantly dropped, and that’ll only get worse if the fee hikes go through.

At the moment, Jacquie Lambie is a minority fighting the bill, and she’s hardly reliable in terms of her previous stances. Let’s hope that there’s more resistance to such a classist and elitist bill.

Image sources: Twitter.

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