What does the overhaul of uni fees in Australia mean for students?


Another blow to the humanities.

The Australian Government announced a huge overhaul of university fees today, and, disappointingly, the cost of studying humanities is set to double, while fees for courses deemed to be more job-relevant will be slashed.

With international travel ground to a halt for the foreseeable future and fewer jobs available for young people entering the workforce, Australian universities are expecting around 20,000 extra enrolments next year from students who would have deferred and taken gap years otherwise.

The changes will see student contribution amounts for law and commerce units increase by 28 per cent and for the humanities by a whopping 113 per cent. Many have been expressing their frustration with this move, worrying that it will further entrench economic inequity and lock marginalised groups out of careers in related industries, especially media.

The Director of Wellbeing at St Catherine’s, an Anglican girls’ school, Daisy Turnbull Brown wrote on Twitter, “More than doubling the cost of humanities degrees is sad. They teach critical thinking, research skills, and broaden our worldview. It is easy to rip into them for not being ‘job-specific’, but that ignores [that] they are the scaffold to everything we know about our society.”

Others are concerned about the disproportionate effects that this new policy may have on the economic futures of women. ANU Economics Professor Ben Phillips wrote on Twitter, “One unfortunate outcome of doubling the cost of Arts degrees (female-dominated) is that many women will continue paying HECS (up to 10 per cent of income) at the same time as paying childcare fees and therefore adding to effective tax rates and lowering workforce incentives for women.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as other female-dominated fields like teaching, nursing, languages and clinical psychology will see a 46 per cent fee reduction. Those studying agriculture and maths will see their fees reduced by 62 per cent and there will be a 20 per cent reduction for those studying science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering.

This comes after modelling showing that most job growth in the next five years will be in health care, science and technology, education and construction. Moreover, the government has announced the funding of an extra 39,000 university places for Australian students by 2023.


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