A proposed fee hike for some university disciplines has been described as ‘absolutely bonkers’ by Tasmania’s student union, who remain opposed to the changes.
Tasmanian University Union president Braydon Broad said the changes did not make sense for Tasmanians.
The changes were proposed by federal Education Minister Dan Tehan in June, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are deeply troubled by the government’s proposed overhaul [of university fees],” Mr Broad said.
“University of Tasmania graduates are more likely to receive a job offer in the humanities space in Tasmania than they are in the sectors the government is trying to provide market incentives for.”
The strong outcomes for Tasmanian humanities graduates in the state were echoed by University of Tasmania vice-chancellor Rufus Black.
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Professor Black said humanities graduates were more likely than science graduates to receive a job offer in their chosen field in Tasmania.
The proposed changes, which still need to pass Parliament, would see fees for humanities courses increase 113 per cent, while law and commerce degrees would cost 28 per cent more.
The changes accommodate for decreases in fees for units involving teaching, nursing, agriculture, maths, English and languages, environmental science, health, architecture, IT and engineering.
Professor Black said UTAS had received some feedback from students regarding the proposed changes.
University of Tasmania graduates are more likely to receive a job offer in the humanities space in Tasmania than they are in the sectors the government is trying to provide market incentives for.
TUU president Braydon Broad
“The main piece people are concerned about is the change with the mix between the HECs component and the component the government provides,” Professor Black said.
Students studying economics, business, humanities and social work had expressed concern to UTAS about the proposed fee changes.
However, Professor Black said he hoped the proposal wouldn’t deter students from studying those disciplines.
“Here in Tasmania we certainly hope it doesn’t discourage people from doing the humanities because people in the humanities in Tasmania get high levels of employment at the end of their degrees,” Professor Black said.
Mr Braydon said the changes might “make sense at other universities” but it didn’t make sense in Tasmania.
“It’s absolutely bonkers for students in Tasmania, but especially for year 12 students, who have already chosen their pre-tertiary subjects and have no prospect of adapting to the changes the government is pushing,” he said.
Professor Black said rates of employment for humanities graduates in Tasmania were higher than the national average in terms of jobs and income.
However, he said he wanted to assure current and future students that humanities were still a valued part of UTAS’ curriculum and students should not change plans.
“We want to keep the message out there that there are jobs of that type in Tasmania and the outcomes are good,” he said.
“People also need to remember they don’t have to repay their HECs debt until they earn above the average income. So it shouldn’t deter them because they don’t have to repay it if it’s not getting them a better job.
There has been no impact on enrolments at UTAS.
Bass MHR Bridget Archer and Tasmanian senators Jonathon Duniam, Claire Chandler and Eric Abetz have all said previously they support the proposed changes.