catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Voting on VSU

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The VSU bill is due to go to the Senate on Thursday morning, but with political personality of the year Barnaby Joyce unlikely to vote for it Brendan Nelson is facing a defeat. Luckily for him he has a rabbit in his hat – a university-by-university student referendum on the issue.

The choices will be limited. For example, it looks like the status quo won’t be an option. Instead, the alternatives would be ‘pure’ VSU of no compulsory charges, or ‘Victorian model’ VSU of a compulsory charge restricted to financing non-political activities. The latter model is the ‘compromise’ suggested by the National Party, neatly putting their dissident Senators in a political bind. I suspect that they want to defend rural universities from VSU regardless of student opinion, but referendums are hard to reject in principle.

Personally, I think this should be a market rather than a political decision. Universities should be able to offer whatever bundle of services they think appropriate, and if students don’t like it they can study somewhere else. But if we are going to decide this matter politically, referendums are a better method than more centralised conformity imposed by Canberra. At least we are likely to see some diversity around the country.

For universities, however, the bigger agenda should be abolishing the price cap on the student contribution amount. If they can get more money from student contributions, loss of the amenities fee won’t be such a problem.

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Written by Admin

December 5, 2005 at 9:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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