ALTHOUGH university price changes will see agricultural degrees 43 percent cheaper next year, the 113 percent increase has some arts students and graduates questioning underlying course values.
For 19-year-old Siobhan Griffin of Inverloch, studying humanities has been a life-long dream.
Siobhan completed her VCE at Wonthaggi Secondary College in 2019, receiving a clear entry into her desired course at Melbourne University.
“I knew that to get into the course I wanted I had to get at least an 85 ATAR and studied really hard especially towards and during exams and I ended up getting an ATAR of 88,” Siobhan said.
“For VCE I did English, further maths, biology, health and human development, PE and global politics by distance Ed as the school didn’t offer it,” she said.
Siobhan is set on completing her Arts Degree, even with the 113 per cent $7,956 (per year) price hike.
She questioned Education Minister Dan Tehan, as to why the cost of her course had more than doubled.
“It doesn’t sit well with me that the Education Minister has a Master’s … in international relations but wants to raise the cost of that type of degree,” Siobhan said.
Humanities and Social Sciences Master’s graduate Joe Alexander asked why some course funding has been halved.
“The change isn’t as simple as the out of pocket for students,” Joe said.
He found the price changes to be misleading and feared course outcomes would be the real cost.
“Courses haven’t changed in cost, they have changed in
value,” Joe said.
“University courses are paid for in varying contributions from students and Commonwealth funding,” he said.
Joe graduated from Mary Mackillop in 2011, going on to study at Melbourne University.
“The issue is that some of the courses that now have decreased fees, have also lost a lot of government funding too, meaning courses will have less total funding to put towards classes and practical lessons.
“These students will graduate with less HECS debt, but they won’t have the breadth of skills that are really needed,” Joe said.
Education Minister Dan Tehan stated universities must teach Australians the skills needed to succeed in the jobs of the future.
Joe believes future jobs will require adaptable skill sets.
“Having the ability to think analytically, critically and problem solve are skills that are developed in Arts and Humanities degrees,” he said.
“They are exactly the soft skills taught disciplines in HASS sciences and STEM (Science technology English and Maths).”
“The incentivised courses are not teaching fundamental thinking skills,” Joe said.
University price changes, value doesn’t