BY LUCAS BAIRD
The University of Sydney Student Representative Council (SRC) has prepared a legal challenge against the University’s decisions surrounding the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA).
The challenge, which will be issued early next week, concerns sections 18, 21, 60, and 267 of Australian Consumer Law. These sections of the ACL include distribution of unconscionable conduct.
The SRC’s legal team claim that by moving the SCA from Callan Park to the Camperdown Campus, cutting courses and jobs, the University will be in breach of all four sections.
SRC legal counsel, Thomas McLoughlin said that approximately 150 students have complained to the SRC. With many concerns indicating that SCA students will not get what they signed up for and that the SCA is making a $4.3 million surplus and is therefore financially viable.
Mr McLoughlin said that the SRC had a “sound basis” for a case.
“The backflip on the previous decision was because they found out it was unlawful, this is a similar situation,” he told City Hub.
“There is a very serious consumer law case there.”
Mr McLoughlin claimed that information in the 2015 UAC Course description for the Bachelor of Visual Arts was now wrong and thus violated section 18.
Section 18 covers the consumer’s right not to be fed misleading information, regardless of whether this information is knowingly distributed or not.
The description promises screen art and jewellry courses, and “extensive studio facilities, workshops and digital laboratories”. The future of these courses remains uncertain.
Other sections of dispute cover unconscionable conduct (section 21), the failure to deliver the promised education (section 60), and a possible reimbursement for students (section 267).
However, a University of Sydney spokesperson told City Hub that the university did not violate any parts of the law and that it fulfilled their legal obligations.
While the spokesperson said they would not comment further on the legal issues, they did take issue with the assumption by the SRC and students that the SCA is making a $4.3 million surplus per year.
They said the $4.3 million figure was calculated before costs associated with running the SCA were deducted and claimed that when done the SCA is significantly in debt.
Though, the impending legal situation has not stopped Unions NSW in throwing their support behind the students in the last week.
The Union joined Greens MPs, Jamie Parker and Mehreen Faruqi, Federal Labor Frontbencher, Anthony Albanese, and Friends of Callan Park in support of the Let SCA Stay movement.
Union Secretary, Mark Morey said they would continue to support the students through this issue.
“Unions NSW will continue to support the students, teachers and the National Tertiary Education Union and its members through coordinating relevant community actions and promoting the campaign through our channels.”
“University management’s decision to cut funding and teaching positions ignores the self-sustainability of the SCA and is just a cut chasing profit and neglecting education,” he said.