by Selwyn Manning
Police evicted around 60 rebel Auckland University students at 5am today. The students had occupied a university building to protest against raising student fees and rates.
Yesterday's protest saw around 100 students force their way into the university clocktower. A rotating student presence involving around 700 students continued throughout yesterday, leaving 60 protesters "sleeping over".
The move has divided Auckland University students and the Auckland University Student's Association has condemned the sit-in as irresponsible.
spokesperson Kane Forbes, says the tertiary sector requires
increase in funding to avoid further fee increases: "That students clearly cannot afford, and also to provide quality education. New Zealand Universities are in severe danger of producing graduates with Mickey Mouse degrees," he says.
The students were also calling for improved access to tertiary education.
ensuring through lower fees that everyone can attend
institutions rather than making these institutions a playground for the rich.
"The current government must take responsibility for the crisis in the tertiary sector that clearly has manifested itself through declining first year enrolments and in over $3 billion in student debt," Mr Forbes says.
But the protesters are not supported by the representative student's union.
AUSA executive members yesterday "disassociated" themselves from the protest action.
The AUSA's vice president, Sherid Thackwray, issued this statement to Scoop: "Both the Association and the University itself have taken great pains to build up a positive working relationship, and this action by a small group merely undermines those efforts.
small group should in no way be seen to represent the
majority of opinion,
either of students, or of AUSA executive members," Ms Thackwray says.
And president elect Kane Stanford says: "Many students are concerned by the actions of the group, whose actions could call into question much of the hard work which has been done to improve the role of students within this University."
Meanwhile the rebel students are demanding that Terciary Minister Max Bradford resign his portfolio.