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visual communication practice

Free Education


Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

After reading 5000 Years Of Debt, the following points in the essay made an impression on me

- Debt was adopted by the state, itself a divine institution
- Social debt- to pay one’s debt to society
- Money is the concrete form of social debt
- If money is debt than debt is slavery
- A relation between (debt and obligation) between human beings

The points have broadened my perspective, no longer is debt seen as an economic matter, debt effects everyone, morally and socially.

International students have been labelled the cash cows of Australian education. In 2008, the estimated worth of international students was estimated at $15 billion. They are the third largest export after coal and iron ore. Around the world tertiary education is fast becoming a means of profit- universities are run like businesses, rather than purposes of education.

In Australia between the years 1974 and 1986 tertiary students had the privilege of a free education. The implementation of this reform was to encourage lower classes the opportunity to further education. Unfortunately, the reform did not change the socio-economic background of students attending as only a low percentage paid fees and most had commonwealth scholarships. Free Education was abolished in 1989 and HECS (Higher Education Scheme) was introduced by the Hawke Government.

Although the Free Education reform was not successful 38 years ago does not mean it will not work today. Spies-Butcher (2004), writes, ‘implementing free education will depend on how the policy is specified and also consideration must be had to issues such as abolishing student fees, increasing funding to enhance the quality of education and to increase student places; and increasing income support to students’.

POSTER: Free Education

Queensland Parliament House sits in front of a barcode. The barcode is a universal symbol. In use with this poster it connotes restrictions our government imposes on the tertiary education system and students. The smashed bars are a call of action to free education, in the sense of students and a new reform.

As a student I can relate to the restrictions and effects that the price of education has costed me. The notion of being indebted to someone for any given amount of money is one reason I averted enrolling at university straight after high school. The plan of action for visual communication are a series of posters outlining the call for free education- why it is worth considering. The posters (set of two) should create awareness and cause discussion and action.

Reference List

australian review of public affairs, 2004, the university of sydney, sydney, viewed 24 April 2012, <http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2004/09/spies-butcher.html>

davis, g, 2007, ‘fairness, fees and equity in higher education’, AFR higher education summit, viewed 24 April 2012, <www.unimelb.edu.au/speeches/transcripts/davis20070403.doc>

lewis, s 2011, crackdown on student debt, the courier-mail, viewed 24 april 2012

naked capitalism, 2011, what is debt? An interview with david graeber, viewed 12 April 2012, <http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/08/what-is-debt-–-an-interview-with-economic-anthropologist-david-graeber.html>

direct action, 2009, international students cash cows for australian capitalism, viewed 12 april 2012, <http://directaction.org.au/issue16/international_students_cash_cows_for_australian_capitalism>

relly, t, 2008, students turn to sex work to help pay for university fees, the age, viewed 14 April 2012

councils of australian postgraduate associations (CAPA), 2003, research paper, the social and economic impact of student debt, viewed 12 April 2012, <http://www.capa.edu.au/briefing-papers/--/social-and-economic-impact-student-debt>

What kind of communication approach do you use?

My prime target audience are school leavers, university students and parents. The hypothetical campaign - Free Education is fundamentally used to raise awareness.
Posters are timeless and highly regarded as an effective form of communication. The availability and advancement of the internet enable these posters to reach a wider audience.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

Community awareness and the freedom of choice. Awareness of the situation leads to groups asking for alternative options.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

Social debt and social obligation never occurred to me before as an issue of debt. Reading 5000 Years Of Debt has given me a fresh perspective and interest in the topic. As a student there is an unsaid moral obligation to my parents in regards to my education- getting a tertiary education and the role they have had in raising me.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

The poster is designed with the purpose of creating discussion and action within the community. Free education has a certain appeal to it. School leavers and current students are made aware that there is an alternate pathway to tertiary education for all groups regardless of socio-background.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

Universities in Australia. A mass cooperation of students as a union has the ability to be heard in governments.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

not that I am aware of.


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Entry details


Free Education


The Price of Education

Concept author(s)

Patricia Beni

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

student designer



Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University