Thousands of Australian students took to city streets on Wednesday to protest against the federal government's proposed deregulation of higher education fees.
The National Union of Students (NUS) organized the marches across the country to highlight the impact of the controversial deregulation bill, and give voice to their fears that undergraduate degrees could soon cost upwards of six figures.
The legislation would result in government funding to tertiary institutions being cut and the NUS fears universities would make up this funding shortfall by charging students more for their degrees.
The reforms have twice been rejected by the senate, but Education Minister Christopher Pyne has said he will "never give up" until the bill had been passed.
March organizers praised the 1000-strong crowd of students that gathered on Wednesday outside the State Library in Victoria to march for fairer reforms, with thousands more marching across other cities, including Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.
The NUS is pushing for the abolition of deregulated fees on undergraduate degrees, a fairer student income support system and better funding for universities across the nation.
Under the proposed changes, the cap on the amount of money students can borrow under the Higher Education Contributions Scheme (HECS) would be removed, and interest would be charged on the amount borrowed by the students.
The NUS is concerned some undergraduate degrees would take years to pay off, and the changes would burden students with massive debt before they secured a full time job.
With reduced government funding, universities fear they would have to increase class sizes, shed staff, close campuses and discontinue some courses.