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Greens seek funding for Wollongong Uni student union and uni

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 22 Feb 2012

Greens Senator and higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon is visiting the University of Wollongong for O-week today to meet with students and discuss funding for the student union and the university.

Senator Rhiannon is calling on the new Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings to stop stalling and commit to passing on to the student union funding collected from students as a result of legislative changes allowing the imposition of a student services and amenities fee.

"The University of NSW has agreed to share funding with their student union, but Wollongong is still refusing to even make an in principle commitment," Senator Rhiannon said.

Ms Sam Dixon a General Representative of the Wollongong Undergraduate Students' Organisation and UOW Convenor of the Young Greens said, "The student union has been starved of money as a result of Howard's voluntary student unionism and is struggling to re-establish essential student services.

"It's time we left the Howard years behind and reinvigorate services delivered by the student body such as subsidising day care, legal services, emergency loans and a book bank," Ms Dixon said.

The Greens are also campaigning for a minimum 10 per cent increase in base funding for the University of Wollongong, which has one of the highest rates of staff casualisation of any regional university in NSW.

"The University of Wollongong, like other universities across Australia, is struggling to provide the same level of quality education, student/staff ratios and student support services because of a lack of funding growth.

"The University has an excellent research profile, which the new Vice Chancellor Professor wants to grow, but being reliant on private rather than public funding makes its future more uncertain.

"It is important that we do not lose sight of the need to provide adequate resources to maintain teaching quality.

"The Greens will put a motion to federal parliament next week to increase base funding by a minimum of 10 percent and in the medium term to commit to match the OECD average investment in higher education to a minimum of 1 per cent of GDP in the medium term

"This institution suffers from one of the highest rates of staff casualisation of any regional university in NSW.

"Management may judge that this increases 'flexibility', but casual and short term contracts mean staff face an uncertain and vulnerable future.

"Like many universities, Wollongong has an ageing workforce with many set for retirement, opening the possibility of sub-standard employment conditions for new staff," Senator Rhiannon said.

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