Farrago analyses higher ed: protest chants

Thursday, 22 May, 2014

Words by Michelle See-Tho


Bullshit, come off it
Our education is not for profit

The “bullshit” in this chant most likely refers to the fact that universities might increase student contributions if fees are deregulated. Fee deregulation means universities are free to set their own prices. Many fear that this will result in universities simply increasing the prices to gain “profit”.



Cuts, job losses
Money for the bosses

This refers to “cuts” to government funding for education. These cuts might potentially lead to “job losses”. Again we return to the issue of fee deregulation, and the chance that universities might increase fees—hence generating more “money for the bosses”. It’s a more descriptive chant, which tells the story of what’s happening in education right now, in a sarcastic way.



No cuts, no fees,
No corporate universities

Unlike 2., this chant is calling for the government not to cut funding to education. It is also calling for “no fees”—possibly completely free education (which hasn’t been on the cards in the past few years). Lastly it calls for “no corporate universities”, assuming that universities, if they were to manage their own fees, would become corporations. Unless they’re talking about corporate universities in the American sense, which operate out of big companies—like McDonald’s Hamburger University. That’s a bit of a stretch, but hyperbole is known as a persuasive technique.



Education is a right not a privilege
No we won’t pay, no we won’t pay

This is sung to the tune of ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’. It calls for completely free education in a kind of bratty way. Outright refusing to pay for education is okay. But in the context of recent protests, it doesn’t make much sense. If the government deregulates fees altogether (and the chants are obviously against it), there will be close to no hope for free education. Why not just settle for a happy medium instead?

Personally, I prefer this one. Much happier:



They say warfare
We say welfare
They say ‘cut back’
We say ‘fight back’

This one has been conveniently recycled from the Ghost of Protests Past. “Warfare” seems to be the amount of money the government is spending on its defence force. It’s probably also useful now that fighter jets have entered the equation. But the chant calls for the money to go to welfare instead (also convenient for protestors given the Budget changes to welfare payments for young people).

But if you don’t want “warfare”, perhaps “fighting back” isn’t the best response.



Chris Pyne get out
We know what you’re all about

Education minister Christopher Pyne gets an honourable mention here. The chant implies that he’s hiding something sinister and that students actually do “know what he’s all about”. But whatever that is isn’t specified in the chant. Presumably it’s meant to hint at him gaining more money, or not caring about students.



When education is under attack,
What do we do? Stand up, fight back

Bang the drums, scream it loud, be very upset about it. This chant always seems to be shouted with a lot of passion. It implies the government has specifically sought to “attack” education—and that students need to “fight back” against it. Apparently the best way to do that is to cause inconveniences to the public—who are also affected by the government protesters hate so much.

It’s always good to hear students’ perspectives on higher education. We’re giving them a slightly louder voice with ‘Farrago analyses higher education’—a spin-off of our higher ed series. You can read more analysis here