The Victorian Greens have introduced a motion calling for an inquiry into the suitability of the laws that govern public universities in Victoria.
Students, staff, unions and other advocates have been raising concerns about the governance of these huge public institutions for years.
The Greens believe it’s time to make sure that the structure and governance is fit for purpose. Universities should be places for knowledge creation, not corporate for-profit entities.
A parliamentary inquiry into the legislated governance of the eight public universities would provide the opportunity to ensure that these valuable public institutions are run for the benefit of students and staff in a transparent and democratic way.
Victorian universities are increasingly being run like big corporations. Students are funnelled through like cash cows, and staff are facing insecure tenure, mass casualisation and wage theft, while the governing bodies are being run by corporate elites.
We need to return universities to their core business of providing high quality education and research opportunities.
This inquiry would provide an opportunity to update and modernise the governance of universities to ensure they function in a transparent way that benefits staff and students.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens education spokesperson, Sam Hibbins MP:
“It’s time the concerns of university staff and students were heard, and that these important public institutions are run with their best interests at their heart.
“For too long universities have been corporatised and run as businesses rather than educational institutions.”
Quotes attributable to NTEU Branch President at the University of Melbourne, Annette Herrera:
"While most Victorian universities are posting record profits, wage theft is rampant, Vice Chancellors refuse to bargain and thousands of staff are having real wages pushed down.
“This on top of the fact that our best and brightest researchers are leaving the sector because of a gig economy funding model.
“We are desperately overdue for an inquiry to ensure accountable executive, fiscal and academic decision-making at our publicly funded universities."
Quotes attributable to Public Universities Australia:
“Public Universities Australia is an alliance of organisations and individuals concerned about the current state and future of Australian universities.
“While Australian universities need a new government funding model which does not rely on international student fees and casualisation of academic work and which adequately funds research and teaching, there is a need to re-establish public confidence in our universities.
“This requires changes to Federal and State legislation and regulations so that our universities’ governance is based on collegial, transparent and accountable decision making and assured academic freedom and therefore PUA supports this motion for an inquiry.”