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The Liberal Government’s attempt to completely deregulate universities has focused attention once again on the privatising of universities, the loss of standards, the level of corporate control, the desperate and corrupt grab for revenue and the rampant managerialism that now characterises university life.
This move is only the latest in a trend that now extends back over 40 years to convert universities from public good institutions to institutes that serve the interests of corporations and extreme neoliberal ideologies.
Friends of the Earth Emerging Tech Project, the Ngara Institute and the NTEU are co-hosting a conference in November – Challenging the Privatised University – that seeks to begin the process of reclaiming universities and revitalising their public and intellectual importance.
The Conference will bring together academics, students and civil society organisations to examine the ways in which privatisation, neoliberal ideology, corporate funding and influence have changed the nature of universities from public good to private interest institutions.
The conference will also, importantly, look at what can be done to reclaim universities and to begin the process of organising for the kinds of changes that are needed.
The two-day conference will be highly participatory and participants will determine the issues they want to discuss and work on.
For one of the conference organisers, Dr Kristen Lyons from the University of Queensland, the conference is long overdue. ‘The privatising of universities has been going on for almost 40 years. Every year it gets worse. More corporate money, less independent science, less collegiality and sharing of knowledge and more censorship. Many academics know this needs to change – and we’re hoping this conference will help that happen.’
Details, including speakers, program and registration, can be found at www.privatiseduni.com.