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Rob Elshire

PhD candidate says some post-grad students should be let in as essential workers | RNZ News

Back in 2016 there was talk of international education as NZ's 5th biggest export industry. Growth was forcast to be $5 Billion per annum by 2025. This year we are reading about losses in that industry. More about University Funding.

So here, in 2020, we find ourselves in a neoliberal dystopia where everything is a business, using just-in-time methods, commoditizing everything, and just making a general mess of things. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the lack of resilience in this very, very brittle system. Nearly no one is winning here. Possibly some highly paid management types (using titles borrowed from the church centuries ago). Maybe they are still making bank and have secure positions.

So, maybe, just maybe some post-grad students should be let back in as essential workers. Well, we have been told they are students, not workers. Surely, if they were workers, they would be paid at least minimum wage like our other essential workers (e.g. supermarket checkout staff). Oh, but that would muck up the finances of the universities (not to mention the CRIs). So, we can not call them workers.

With everyone talking about the tertiary education export industry, might we suggest a rebrand to a very popular industry segment? Tertiary education is clearly a primary industry which milks and fleeces the students while externalizing the expenses to those early in their careers. What a beautiful example of neoliberal economics in action. Well done Tertiary Education Industry!