Uni cuts alarm students

STUDENTS from the University of Western Sydney rallied in Penrith yesterday to protest against proposed funding cuts while the executive were meeting to decide on the university's future.

The rally was held at the North Werrington campus and was attended by a large crowd of students and staff. It coincided with a meeting of the board of trustees who were deliberating on a motion which would mean cuts in funding to most faculties.

Deans were available after the meeting to speak to students and answer questions on the way the changes would affect them.

Student Representative Council member Christopher Wilson said the students were aiming to convince the executive to lengthen the proposal's consultation period.

"Ultimately we want all units to remain but we do realise there are units where attendance is low so they're not going to last," he said.

"It's the speed of the change . . . they've just proposed this in the last week of exams; we've had one week of consultation. We're hoping they'll put a delay on it, seek some consultation and take feedback."

SRC representatives said in a media release that they had seen leaked documents which indicated that the proposed changes would result in cuts to over 400 units.

The changes would affect humanities programs with majors expected to be cut from the arts and communications degrees, while half of the elective units in the law degree are also reportedly being cut.

The Student Learning Unit, which provides academic assistance, is also believed to be disbanding.

The bachelor of economics degree will be culled although students had recently been told that they are still able to study economics majors under the business degree.

Mr Wilson said statistics which were calculated from the university's budget indicate that the cuts could be avoided if money was re-allocated.

"Only 38.3 per cent of school income in 2012 was allocated to teaching as opposed to 62.5 per cent in 2003," he said. "It is believed that increasing this year's figure by 4 per cent would be enough to halt most of the proposed cuts."

SRC member Katie Shield said the cuts would be devastating for western Sydney students.

"They're [the university's executive] saying that it's necessary to streamline UWS degrees but what this is going to do is turn degrees into generic cardboard box degrees where there isn't going to be any specialisation," she said.

"UWS caters for everyone within western Sydney and denying people the ability to study certain subjects and degrees is wrong".

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