School leavers who are hoping to study humanities will either have to foot a bill double that of their predecessors or pick different subjects under a new scheme announced by Minister for Education Dan Tehan.
On the flip side of the coin, those who want to study nursing will pay 46 per cent less for their degree than those studying this year.
Under the plan, the government will fund an extra 39,000 university places by 2023 and will restructure the fees for courses to push students towards “areas where there is expected growth in job opportunities”.
The move would see the cost of studying a humanities degree soar by 113 per cent. Law, commerce and communications and would also come with a higher price tag.
The bill for agriculture and maths will drop 62 per cent while people studying science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering will pay 20 per cent less for their degree.
“We know we’re going to need more teachers, we’re going to need more nurses… we know there are jobs there,” Tehan told the National Press Club today.
“A cheaper degree in an area where there’s a job is a win-win for students.”
When asked at the National Press club whether the scheme will work as intended and see students take up cheaper degrees instead of those with pumped up fees, Tehan pointed to the recently offered microcredentials. “We saw when we offered discounts in those areas that students have voted with their feet and sought out those courses,” he said.
“We think that with the price incentives… students will pay attention to them.”
Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association president Karen Booth welcomed the move, calling it a major boost to the profession. “It will attract many more students into nursing by making their university education more affordable,” Booth said.
“It also helps to address Australia’s predicted shortage of 123,000 nurses by 2030. Increasing the workforce pipeline is an important first step that needs to be supported by quality student placements, particularly in primary health care settings such as general practice and aged care.”
Critics of the move have pointed out that Tehan himself holds a Bachelor of Arts and studied humanities.
When asked whether the new humanities price tag would have deterred him from his study path, Tehan said: “I would have looked at it and said, ‘What do I need to do to make sure that I’m going to have the skills I need to get a job afterwards?’
“I think it would have helped me with my ability to get a job.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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