The mission statement of Universities Australia, the peak industry group for the sector, describes in lofty terms the purpose of universities: “For hundreds of years”, it reads, “universities have existed as institutions that seek to further human endeavour through the distribution of knowledge and the embodiment of the ideals of free inquiry, equality and independence”.
Ruling classes have a long tradition of foot-in-mouth comments that reveal their disdain for the people they rule over. From Marie Antoinette’s “Let them eat cake” to Henry Ford complaining, “Every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached”, the people in charge can’t help telling us what they really think.
Sydney University was the site of a serious police crackdown on 28 August, as students gathered to protest against the latest round of cuts and restructures to higher education. Around 80 police, including mounted and riot squad, swept through the campus, dispersing the demonstration and arresting or fining at least 10 protesters.