Why aren’t uni students jumping to the Left?

You'd think the debate over fee regulation would send student politicians Leftward, but the reality is very different, write Sally Whyte and Myriam Robin.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has unveiled one of the most dramatic plans to reshape education in recent memory. Fee deregulation could mean today’s students could soon graduate with far more debt than they would have carried before the deregulation was announced.


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6 thoughts on “Why aren’t uni students jumping to the Left?

  1. Stand Up Shill

    Withers seems out of touch if she thinks the University of Melbourne election campaigns were not focusing on changes to tertiary education. Most of ignite’s campaigners at University of Melbourne were spruiking opposition to fee deregulation as one of their main party platforms. Their president was a bit of a wildcard with her opposition to overtly political policy, in favour of events and parties, instead. Her association with More Activities and a clubs and societies on campus made her a bit of a BNOC and this was largely how she was elected. So I don’t think unions across Australia are lurching to the right or becoming more apolitical; Withers represents a party opposed to fee dereg, the other major party at UniMelb (Stand Up) is also against fee dereg, and this was one of the main platforms for both parties. Additionally, Left Action (aligned with Socialist Alternative) ran a very political campaign this year, focusing on the Abbott government. Meanwhile, Fresh (the Liberal aligned ticket) picked up less votes this year than they did last year and they didn’t even campaign last year! Political leanings definitely does matter.

  2. Kyle Webb


    I’m a currently serving OB at UMSU, and from my perspective (as an independent), there has certainly been a lot of interest from students in how the union engages with the broader campus community. Having said that, most of the factions involved in this election are against fee deregulation, and I believe that to be a wider trend at unimelb. I would say that opposition towards fee deregulation is quite strong, even if students don’t necessarily hit the streets for an old fashioned rally. Nor do I think that fee deregulation is necessarily a thing of the ‘left’.

  3. The Old Bill

    Ah the youth of today. In my time we were too busy sinking kegs and having sit ins, plus the odd punch up with the Tony Abbott wimps from the young libs. These days however, you end up owing money and perhaps even interest on it for the rest of your life, so you have to concentrate on passing everything instead. Caring for solo mothers and social justice isn’t a viable option for a student anymore. Time wasted on such causes will add at least $50,000 to your HECS debt.

  4. Scott

    I think Winston Churchill said it best

    “If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart..if you are not a conservative at 40 you have no brain”

    Obviously liberal in this context is left wing…I was much the same in the younger years…railing against the corporate giants and the injustice of it all. And then you become part of the corporate world and realise it isn’t that unjust at all.

  5. AR

    Many radical lefties march to a different drum once they have hostages to fortune – ie children, debts, mortgage not necessarily in that order.
    Wonder if conscription would wake them up?

  6. Chris Hartwell

    Oh it’s still unjust. You just shut up because it’s that injustice that puts food on your table. Don’t bite the hand that feeds and all that.

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