On Friday 19 June, the Minister for Education announced higher education reforms to increase the number of graduates in areas of expected employment growth and demand, lift the education attainment for students in regional Australia, and strengthen relationships with business to drive workforce participation and productivity.
The Government wants to keep Australians in jobs, and to educate the next generation of Australians to get a job.
As I said at my recent Press Club address, to secure Australia’s future we must leverage and build on our strengths, including an educated and highly-skilled workforce.
Projections prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that over the five years to 2024 it is expected that the overwhelming majority of new jobs will require tertiary qualifications – and almost half of all new jobs will go to someone with a bachelor or higher qualification.
Health care is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth, followed by:·
- Science and Technology,·
- Education, and·
These four industries are projected to provide 62 % of total employment growth over the next five years.
Universities must therefore teach Australians the skills needed to succeed in the jobs of the future.
To help in doing this we will make university degrees cheaper for students who study in areas of expected employment growth, encouraging students to make more job-relevant choices that lead to job-ready graduates.
From 2021, students will pay:
- 46 % less to study teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages
- 62 % less to study agriculture and maths, and
- 20 % less to study health, architecture, environmental science, IT, and engineering.
Medicine, dental and veterinary science students will see no change to their cost and around 60% of students will see a reduction or no change to the cost of their study.
The student contribution for Law and Commerce will increase by 28 %, for the Humanities it will be 113 %.
The changes are based at a unit level, not a degree level, and students can reduce their total student contribution by choosing electives such as maths and IT within their degree.
Australia’s Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) remains the world’s most generous income contingent loan scheme. There are no upfront fees for students and no student pays back their loan until they are earning a decent wage – currently, $46,620 for the 2020-21 financial year.
The Government will also provide an additional 39,000 university places by 2023 to meet the expected increase in demand because of COVID-19.
The package will restructure higher education funding to better align the cost and revenue of a university degree, with around 60 % of students seeing a reduction or no change in their student contribution.
Course fees for current students will be grandfathered, with the new funding model applied to students who commence their studies from 2021.