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### Australian Labor Government’s Business-Friendly Education Overhaul Debated at Rank-and-File Forum

Education Minister Jason Clare together with Professor Mary O’Kane AC [Photo: X/@JasonClareMP]

An online forum was hosted last week by the Rank-and-File Committee at Macquarie University in Sydney to address the extensive implications of the final report of the Australian Labor government’s Universities Accord on all levels of education.

Established by supporters of the Socialist Equality Party last year, the committee is drawing attention to the genuine content of the report, which is being concealed by both the corporate media and education trade union leaders.

Under the guise of “reform,” the Accord document advocates for an accelerated corporate restructuring of tertiary education to meet the employment and research needs of major corporations and the increasing militaristic stance of the Albanese Labor government.

The forum saw participation from both school teachers and university educators. It was evident from the discussions, including questions and comments from teachers, that the militaristic agenda outlined in the Accord report is also being imposed in schools through related “outreach” programs and competitions.

During the forum’s opening report, Carolyn Kennett, a prominent member of the Macquarie University Rank-and-File Committee, cautioned that university educators and students are already feeling pressured to engage in these profit-driven and war-oriented programs. This pressure manifests through changes in courses, workloads, performance metrics, and career prospects.

Kennett emphasized that the core of the Accord aligns with the pro-business agenda of the Albanese government, its support for US war initiatives, and its involvement in the US-backed atrocities in Gaza, where most of the enclave’s educational institutions have been destroyed.

The Accord’s initial discussion paper, as cited by Kennett, asserts that the Australian Government aims to establish an Australian Universities Accord to ensure lasting alignment between the country’s high-quality higher education system and national requirements.

In this context, “national needs” refer to the profit-driven, geostrategic, and militaristic demands of the capitalist class, particularly emphasizing vocational training to meet specific employer demands and directing research towards commercial and military objectives.

While the report suggests modifications to the HELP student fee system, its primary goal is to steer students towards industry-linked courses, including placements for higher degree research within industries.

Furthermore, the Accord final report advocates for a transition to “microcredentials” tailored to meet employer needs and “work-integrated learning” programs that immerse students in industry throughout their academic journey, featuring linked “degree apprenticeships.”

The report highlights collaborations such as the University of South Australia’s partnership with the South Australian Labor state government, the Australian Industry Group, and the defense industry to establish university degree apprenticeships supporting the construction of AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines.

Kennett underscored that the AUKUS alliance contributes to a significant military buildup targeting China, identified as the primary threat to US global dominance by American imperial strategists.

To advance its agenda, the report proposes a revamped funding model that binds universities to negotiated “mission compacts” overseen by a new entity named the Australian Tertiary Education Commission, involving key stakeholders from the business and government sectors.

Kennett pointed out that universities are increasingly catering to the research needs of the Australian and US militaries through multimillion-dollar deals with major arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.

For instance, the $370 million “Trailblazer” project initiated in 2022 focuses on research that drives commercial outcomes and fosters industry engagement, particularly in defense, space technology, rocket production, satellite systems, and renewable energy.

The Trailblazer initiatives extend to schools, ensuring a steady supply of students prepared to contribute to the war efforts of the Albanese government. This militarization of education is not unique to Australia, as similar trends are observed globally, including in the UK and the United States.

Kennett criticized the leaders of the main campus unions, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), for aligning with Labor’s agenda, which prioritizes business interests and militarism.

Educators and students are urged to establish independent rank-and-file committees to resist these detrimental policies, emphasizing the need to unite with workers globally through the International Workers’ Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees in a broader struggle against capitalism and its pursuit of corporate profits and warfare.

For further inquiries, please reach out to the Committee for Public Education (CFPE), the network of rank-and-file educators:




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