NTEU INTERNATIONAL POLICY STATEMENT
NTEU affirms Education International’s policy on the critical role that education plays in combating poverty, in promoting peace, social justice, human rights, democracy, cultural diversity and environmental awareness.
NTEU believes that education is the key to uniting nations and overcoming divisions between people, societies and cultures. The Union believes that it is important to recognise the crucial role of education in contributing to building a culture of peace. We condemn those instances in which education is undermined in order to attack democracy, equality and human rights.
A culture of peace and non-violence goes to the substance of fundamental human rights: social justice, democracy, literacy, respect and dignity for all, international solidarity, emancipation, respect for workers’ rights and core labour standards, children rights, gender equality, cultural identity and diversity, the rights of first nation peoples and minorities, and the preservation of the natural environment. A society that, at its core, values and promotes teaching and education, has a direct and positive impact on these fundamental human rights and social justice issues.
NTEU notes that higher education (and universities in particular) have long been an international public good based on the free movement and exchange of ideas, research, staff and students. Universities are increasingly exposed to trade, market and commercial pressures, and globalisation has encouraged national governments to privatise public universities and colleges, and to remove barriers to foreign investment and trade in education services.
NTEU notes that the privatisation and commercialisation of further and higher education continues to expand in Australia and globally with consequent exacerbation of class, race, cultural, and gender inequalities, which run contrary to the purported purpose of expanding access to decent education as a major contributor to increased universal equality, prosperity and peace.
Internationally the privatisation and commercialisation of education has become a major issue for Education International as companies expand from the further and higher education sector to seeking profit through control of school education by establishing private schools and monopolising provision of education resources. In addition, private companies are successfully tendering for the provision of assessment and accountability systems from governments and public agencies.
For Australian universities internationalisation has meant the rapid expansion of offshore campuses and facilities, and a growing (and unhealthy) dependence on overseas student fee income. The rapid commercial growth of Australian international education has industrial and policy implications for NTEU members, as well as having potentially adverse consequences for the development of strong, domestic higher education systems in the poorer countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Council also notes that NTEU’s commitment to the defence of academic, trade union and human rights requires an international perspective given the widespread abuse of these rights in many universities and countries around the world.
Council recognises that NTEU opposition to free trade in education and research services is based not only on the interests of Australian universities and their staff, but also on the interests of universities and university staff in poorer and developing countries.
Council directs the National Executive and Officers to further expand and develop NTEU’s international work, with a specific brief to:
- Monitor Australian universities’ offshore activities, including the policy and industrial implications for NTEU members and for host countries;
- Monitor and respond to abuses of academic freedom, trade union and human rights in universities in the major regions of the world, and maintain affiliations with relevant international organisations including the, Scholars at Risk and Amnesty International;
- Develop international networks of higher education unions, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region and through Education International;
- Contribute to the global and Australian trade union response to free trade and globalisation; and
- Campaign to exclude education and research services from transnational and bilateral trade agreements; and to develop alternative non-market forms of transnational higher education provision.