As Australia faces what is potentially its biggest employment crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the government is set to announce a major overhaul of tertiary education.
The aim is to increase the employability of graduates and enhance key parts of the economy that can fuel national growth prospects.
To funnel students into the industries that the government believes will help drive growth and job opportunities, there will be significant fee incentives for students to take pursue certain courses of study. Similarly, there will be notable fee increases to discourage study in other fields.
Cost of humanities studies up by 113%
More detail is expected to be given today (Friday, 19 June) when Education Minister Dan Tehan addresses the National Press Club.
Hardest hit by the fee increases will be the humanities, where the cost of an arts degree, for example, will rise by a whopping 113%.
This puts humanities alongside law and commerce degrees in the highest price band. Law and commerce studies will themselves rise by 28%.
But substantial decreases for some courses
On the other side of the equation, there are substantial decreases in fees for courses the government thinks will grow the economy and help to get it back on track after the massive economic impact of the pandemic.
In addition to the decreases, the government is to increase the contribution that it makes to these courses, so students will pay between $3 700 and $7 700 per annum.
The biggest decreases are for agriculture and maths degrees, which go down by a substantial 62%. Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages degrees will drop by 46%.
Science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering degrees get a 20% decrease. Courses in medicine, dental and veterinary science degrees remain unchanged.
Current students won’t pay more to study
Tehan is expected to tell the Press Club that students will have a choice. “Their degree will be cheaper if they choose to study in areas where there is expected growth in job opportunities.”
In order not to disadvantage students already enrolled in a particular course, fee increases for existing students are to be frozen. But students who enrol in courses that are decreasing in cost will be able to take advantage of the fee reductions from next year.