8   +   4   =  

In June, the Federal Government announced a major shakeup in the structure of university fees. The proposal sees a decrease in the cost to study disciplines such as nursing, teaching, healthcare, science and engineering for new students—but the price to complete a degree in the humanities and behavioural sciences will double.

Education Minister Dan Tehan says the goal is to encourage students to select study paths that will guarantee a job after they graduate. Based on economic projections, the Government is predicting a boom in certain industries and is trying to encourage this.

Based on the Government’s outline, new students in disciplines benefitting from the restructure will pay anywhere from $3,700 to $7,700 per year while they study. Humanities course fees will jump to $14,500 per year, a 113 per cent rise.

These changes mean humanities students will pay more for their degree than medical students. A person studying a humanities degree will owe almost as much money after completion as it costs to teach it.

Students already enrolled in humanities degrees will have their fees locked, meaning their payments won’t increase in cost. Current students studying disciplines whose fee rate is about to drop will pay the new, lower amounts.

Tehan also stated that 39,000 new university placements will be created and funded by the Government by 2023.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many Year 12 students have been forced to re-evaluate their plans for 2021. More than 20,000 extra students nationwide are applying for university spots while international travel bans are still in place.

There is an outcry from humanities academics and they are criticising the Government’s announcement. Many have labelled it a business-focused decision, while others are concerned about job security.

Professor Susan Forde, a member of Griffith University’s journalism department, voiced her disappointment on Twitter writing ‘…another blow to the humanities when we need to understand our world more than ever’. Other university professionals are getting behind her and are stating their shock on social media.

The National Union of Students has created a petition to protest the fee increases. The rise will lead to an excessive number of workers in one industry, like nursing. It also comes at the expense of students who come from lower socio-economic and minority backgrounds. Many of these students would have to go into a lifetime of debt if they are set on a tertiary education in the arts.

Credit: Curtin Student Guild

For more information and resources on this topic, check out the below links:

Doubling university fees for the arts will leave Australia less equipped for our complex world

Government’s university fee changes mean humanities students will pay the entire cost of their degrees

Hands Off Our Education: Rally Against Uni Fee Hikes

Stop the Fee Hikes Dan!

University fees to be overhauled, some course costs to double as domestic student places boosted