Students around the nation have taken to the streets in a second round of protests against the Abbott government’s plans to deregulate the university sector.
Hundreds of demonstrators converged on city centres in Sydney and Melbourne, where they set alight cardboard effigies of the Education Minister Christopher Pyne and wore red felt squares as signs of protest.
The national day of action was organised by the National Union of Students and targeted the reforms announced in May’s budget, which would allow universities to adopt a US-type model by allowing them to dictate the cost of degrees.
Science student Gabrielle Pei Tiatia said she believed the moves would push poorer students out of tertiary education.
“For many people it can deter them from going to university, people don’t want to be drowning in debt for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Sydney University education officer Ridah Hassan believed that the protests were working.
“We have overwhelming public and student support on our side, and we’re committed to campaigning until all the proposed reforms are scrapped altogether,” she said.
Mr Pyne has signalled that he would compromise on some of the reforms following opposition from Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party.
The current proposals include full deregulation of the higher education sector, a 20 per cent cut to education funding and a rise in the interest rates of student HECS loans.