The Australian government has unveiled plans to make some university degrees cheaper or more expensive.
The aim is to encourage people to do courses that will eventually make themselves ‘job ready’ at the end of the degree.
As a result, some arts programs will have their fees skyrocket, while degrees relating to teaching, nursing, psychology, architecture, maths, science and engineering will be much cheaper.
Students wanting to study humanities degrees will have their fees jump by 113 per cent, while those choosing law and commerce will pay 28 per cent more. Some humanities courses will cost as much as $14,500 a year.
Medicine, dental and veterinary science degrees won’t change in price.
According to the Guardian, Education Minister Dan Tehan hopes this new directive will create 39,000 more university spots by 2023 and 100,000 by 2030.
“We are facing the biggest employment challenge since the Great Depression,” Mr Tehan is expected to say in a speech to the National Press Club today.
“And the biggest impact will be felt by young Australians. They are relying on us to give them the opportunity to succeed in the jobs of the future.
“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.”
However, the government has copped a serious serve from commentators about the project.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has welcomed cheaper fares for some degrees but slammed the idea that education is just a factory for the future.
“Universities are not job factories and tailoring fees around that premise will hurt our sector in a time where we are already facing billions of dollars lost and hundreds of staff cuts,” the union said in a statement.
“We need funding, not attacks on students.
“Being a student should not be a debt sentence, but the Government has decided to force tomorrow’s workers into a lifetime of further debt.”
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) president Alison Barnes added: “The future of Australian research and learning demands a substantial funding package, not a cynical attempt to gouge certain cohorts of students for more money.
“Dan Tehan has effectively told students studying humanities, law and commerce that they should fund the cost of the pandemic. This is unconscionable.”
The program is hoped to address the skills and jobs shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
While Year 12 students will still have four or five years to complete their course, their jobs will be necessary in a post-pandemic Australia.
However, it doesn’t take into account all the people who want to explore courses that might not have guaranteed jobs waiting for them at the end of the road.
Funnily enough, four Australian Prime Ministers, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull and Bob Hawke all had a bachelor’s degree in humanities.