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More people choosing to study humanities despite price hike

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More Australian students are applying for humanities degrees, despite price hikes that the Coalition government implemented in 2020.

Sydney Morning Herald reported a nine per cent rise in admissions for humanities. Some people choose these courses simply because of personal interest.

Australia National University (ANU) higher education policy professor, Andrew Norton criticised Coalitions’ push toward certain courses:

Why would you do something that doesn’t interest you, just to have (A)$10,000 to $30,000 [debt] over a lifetime? Even though it hasn’t changed the choices of prospective students it does mean they’ll have many extra years of HELP [Higher Education Loan Program] repayments.

Coalition raised humanities fees during pandemic

In response to COVID in 2020 – 2021, the Coalition Government shook up university course fees.

The (supposed) aim was for future students to choose ‘job ready’ courses. As a result, degrees fees for courses, including teaching, clinical psychology and nursing decreased 42 per cent.

However, other courses’ fees skyrocketed. Humanities and Communications went up 113 per cent. Law degrees went up 28 per cent.

One of the reasons why fees to degrees like Arts rose so drastically was because Government contribution to the fees had plummeted.

How did universities view the changes?

Opinions on these changes varied among universities. Regional universities favoured the changes, largely because the Coalition Government dedicated 3.5 per cent increase in funding. As a result, more student places were available.

Many universities showed mild concern. However, no university wanted to rock the boat by protesting, due to wanting the funding increase.

Was this an attack on free speech?

Were these changes simply about funding courses based on need? Maybe. I think it was a bit more sinister.

The hikes in fees aimed courses that often explore sociology, culture and politics.

And, university politics are seen as far left-leaning. I can’t help this was part of the reason why humanities and Communications wer hit so hard.

Universities have been pressured by the Menzies Institute to be more ‘balanced’ an$ promote Western values.

Now, I can’t say for sure the pressure from the Menzies’ Institute is directly linked to the rises in some fees, but I still wonder. I mean, why not just decrease some fees, but leave the others? This is why I get a niggling that culture wars were a factor in this decision.

Young people already have enough debt

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It’s almost universal that young people in the West will have debts. It might be a car loan, credit cards, and later, house loan and mortgage. Unfortunately, university fees have become another massive debt.

Financial adviser, Max Phelps told news.com.au that while HELP debt was important, so were others. He said that credit cards and personal loans should be given priority over HELP debt

So, what if HELP loans are never paid back? This would backfire on students, universities and the government, wouldn’t it? It’s a no – win situation.

Going back to what Professor Andrew Norton told Sydney Morning Herald, of course students – school leavers and mature – aged students – are always going to choose courses that would interest them. So, the fee rises on Humanities and Communications were for nothing.

What are your thoughts on the fee changes? Fair? Unfair? Let me know what you think below.

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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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