Education Minister Dan Tehan has told upcoming school leavers aggrieved about sudden fee hikes for their chosen university degrees that the new system will be fairer and still majority-funded by taxpayers who have mostly not benefited from a university education.
The fee overhaul, which has increased fees for some courses while dropping the cost of “job-relevant” degrees, will be in place from next year and has triggered concerns for school students who have picked year 11 and 12 subjects based on the degrees they have committed to.
Education Minister Dan Tehan has called on concerned students to consider that the new system is fairer. Alex Ellinghausen
Responding to the complaints, Mr Tehan said Australia was facing the greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression and the government wanted students to think about choosing university subjects that would boost their employment prospects.
“You will not pay one cent upfront – you have access to the best HELP loan scheme in the world. And we want to ensure that in choices you make getting a job is one of the key considerations,” he said.
“We want you to think about not just looking at your degree as a silo. Look at it as an opportunity to diversify across disciplines.”
Mr Tehan said the funding system would be fairer because the government was matching government and student contributions to universities with the actual cost of teaching courses.
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“Students also need to understand that the cost of degree here in Australia is less than the cost of a degree in the UK and US,” he said.
“And also that 60 per cent of Australian taxpayers have never been to university and they still make a contribution which is greater than 50 per cent to higher education.”
Under the shake-up, the cost of humanities and communications courses will more than double, with a year of full-time study costing $14,500 from next year, up from $6804. Fees for law and commerce will increase 28 per cent to $14,500 a year, up from $11,155.
Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English, languages, maths and agriculture courses will cost $3700 a year, down by 46 to 62 per cent. Fees for science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering will drop 20 per cent, with a year of study costing $7700.