Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Morrison Government's class warfare sees this hard right group closing the door to students from low income families and cutting funding to universities


SBS News, 20 June 2020:

Mr Tehan outlined the coalition's latest plan for rejigging university funding in a speech to the National Press Club on Friday afternoon. He is offering to increase the number of university places by 39,000 over the next three years, rising to 100,000 more by 2030. 

The coalition had effectively capped places over the past couple of years by freezing its funding at 2018 levels. 

The trade-off in the new deal is changing what students and taxpayers pay. 

A three-year humanities degree would more than double in cost for students, from about $20,000 now to $43,500. The government's contribution would drop to $3300. 

 Fees for law degrees, typically four years, would jump from $44,620 now to $58,000. 

Conversely, the government would contribute more and charge students less for courses it says are more likely to lead to jobs. 

Agriculture and maths fees would drop from nearly $28,600 over three years to $11,100. 

Fees would also be cut for teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, science, health, architecture, IT, engineering and English courses.....


From January 2021 students entering Humanities courses such as Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts & Business, Bachelor of International Studies, Bachelor of Politics Philosophy & Economics, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts/
Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Languages), fees will more than double, putting them alongside law and commerce in the highest price band of $14,500 a year or est. $43,500 for a completed degree. Making these courses more expensive than studying medicine.

The Australian, 22 June 2020:

Universities will be paid less to teach courses such as maths and engineering under the Morrison government’s overhaul of higher education funding — despite those programs being promoted by Education Minister Dan Tehan as post-pandemic job creators. 

Education Department data shows the commonwealth will cut university funding for each enrolment in those courses while also cutting how much those students pay to study. 

The reforms are intended to push students towards high-­priority courses such as maths, teaching, science and engineering by lowering how much students, through the HECS-HELP loan scheme, pay. 

Universities currently receive $28,958 a year for each science course enrolment, made up of $19,260 paid by the student through the HECS-HELP loan scheme and $9698 from the commonwealth. 

Under the new system, however, students will contribute $7700 and the commonwealth will pay $16,500, leaving universities with $4758 less revenue for each science student enrolled. 

Universities will lose a similar amount for each student enrolled in an engineering course under the reforms announced by Mr Tehan on Friday, and lose $3444 per student in an agriculture subject, one of the key areas where the government is hoping to drive enrolment growth. 

That’s because while the commonwealth is increasing its payment per student from $24,446 to $27,000, that does not compensate for the fall in student contributions from $9698 to $3700. 

Frank Larkins, a researcher at Melbourne University’s Centre for Higher Education, said the fall in overall revenues per student in high-priority areas was likely to make it more difficult for universities to teach more students in those job-creating subjects. 

“It appears there are two mess­ages here. The government wants students to go into nursing, teaching and STEM subjects, but they also think those courses are overfunded,” Professor Larkins told The Australian on Sunday. 

“Agriculture — one of the areas they want more students — would retain its funding in the present scheme, but it’s cut by 17 per cent in this new one. It’s a curious situation. 

“The areas of study we are touting as the national interest are actually diminishing under these changes. 

Every university will have a different reaction, but these changes are almost disguising a cut in funding for some of these courses the government is promoting.”....


ABC News, 21 June 2020: 

If you were thinking about starting a university degree in the future, you've got a new fee structure to take into account. The Government has announced an overhaul of the university fee system, slashing the price of courses it says are more likely to get you a job and hiking up fees for courses in the humanities. 

The changes will mainly apply to future students, with no current student to pay increased fees for the duration of their degree. 

However, if you're a current student enrolled in a course that is getting cheaper, you'll pay less from next year. 

Many of you told us the changes will affect your choice of study, and for some it will deter you from going to university altogether.... 

Robert H: "My son is in grade 11 and he picked his subjects for grades 10 to 12 at the end of grade 9. So even if he wanted to pivot towards the cheaper STEM degrees, he would need to go back in time to the end of year 9 to reselect his subjects. So much for a fair go." 

Monika O: "This is terrible. We need to encourage a variety of careers as we all have different gifts and abilities. It's not justified to discriminate and "punish" people who choose to study arts and humanities. These topics encourage critical thinking skills and communications skills — all much needed abilities. 

David D: "This an appalling idea. Prejudicing young people because their ability and passion are in the humanities, and rewarding those whose ability and passion just happens to be what business thinks they require now for jobs … Many businesses are actually crying out for workers with critical thinking and creative skills.".... 

Emma J: "Doubling humanities degree costs is appalling. These are the only degrees where you are taught to think for yourselves and where ideas and innovation are encouraged. Without social and political sciences and history and Indigenous studies, we're going to have a workforce which can only follow rules and can't think for themselves." Shane H: "Two of the most valued skills employers want is the ability to think critically and emotional intelligence. How many STEM subjects teach that?" 

Carolyn J: "Humanities subjects are foundational and help to produce people who understand the history and nuances of our society. They teach people how to communicate ideas, how to analyse language, image and thought. The arts themselves provide beauty, expression, reflection, critique, examination. They are vocations — sometimes compulsions — not job choices." 

Johny M: "More than doubling the cost of humanities degrees is not only sad, but grossly unfair. 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 they are the scaffold to everything we know about our society." Stefan P: This is absolutely tragic. The choice of which course to pursue within higher education should be entirely dependent on a student's desires, not their financial situation and the whims of the economy. Besides which, if the Federal Government acknowledges the difficulty of finding work as an arts student, then saddling them with even more debt is simply counterintuitive." 

Matt B: "I'm a Medsci student progressing into medicine, arguably an 'in demand' degree. However … the arts/humanities allows scientists to put the research in perspective of humanity and thus allows us to better communicate to the public and (science-ignorant) governments why we do what we do. Arts isn't a second thought; it's a priority, more so than learning chemistry and biology is for a doctor, because without the arts, we cannot communicate and appreciate the meaning of cancer beyond it being a mutation of cells.".... 

Lili K: "I'm just about to finish my honours degree in politics, and it has been the most rewarding and interesting years of my life. I know if this price hike happened when I was at my poor public country high school, I would have had to take a different path."....

 Anna G: "I have an arts degree. I work for the Government in a relatively senior role. My degree gave me essential critical-thinking, analytical and writing skills that equip me to do my job daily. It's frustrating to know that the Government thinks that my degree isn't 'job focused' when I use it to support and deliver its policies and programs.".... 

 Lana G: I am a business/politics (humanities) student. I am the first in my family to attend university, and all this does is make university (for the most part) unattainable. My degree is now going to be on par with the cost of a medical degree … Poorer kids are going to move away from economics, humanities and law."..... 

The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 2020: 

 The government will fund an extra 39,000 places by 2023 – an increase of about 6 per cent – as the recession prompts more school leavers to stay on in education (and avoid taking a gap year), but will compensate for this by cutting the amount of its funding per student. 

 According to calculations by Professor David Peetz, of Griffith University (whose former job as a senior federal bureaucrat helps him find where the bodies are buried), the government will cut its funding by an annual $1883 per student, with the average increase in tuition fees of $675 per student reducing the net loss to universities to $1208 per student. (The fee changes won't apply to existing students, however.).... 

Professor Ian Jacobs, boss of UNSW, who points to the perverse incentives the changes will create (assuming the Senate is mad enough to pass them). Unis will be tempted to offer most places in those courses with the widest gap between the high government-set tuition fee and the cost of running the course. They'll be pushing BAs harder than ever. 

This, of course, is exactly the way you'd expect the vice-chancellors to behave when you've taken government-owned and regulated agencies, spent 30 years pursuing a bipartisan policy of cutting their federal funding (from 86 per cent to 28 per cent of total receipts, in the case of Sydney University) and pretending they've been privatised.

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