Categories
Opinion/Commentary

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.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Is going to TAFE instead of university still stigmatised?

Mortarboard graduation hat
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Some Queensland and New South Wales universities have come under fire for allowing teaching applicants with a dramatically low ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).

ATAR scores of students that have been allegedly accepted into teaching courses has been as low as 17.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, exclaimed that these revelations set off  ‘alarm bells’.

Hearing and reading about this made me wonder whether paths other than university or being a mature – aged student (over twenty – one), is getting a bad rap again.

From the time I was in Year 10 in 2005, TAFE was becoming  seen as a reputable alternative to university. University pathways and using credits from TAFE was also being seen as a legitimate education and career path. Is that still the case, or are students pressured into thinking that university straight out of school is the only way?

 

I’ve got something to say to students who may have been told that message – university straight out of school is NOT the only way. TAFE is a reputable option. Being a mature – aged student isn’t aomething to be ashamed of. Working and travelling is another good path that many young people take. You don’t have to jump straight into a three or four year degree atraight away if your not ready. Allow yourself to grow, explore, gain real – world experience.

I went to TAFE a year after I left school and did Certificate II in Business Adminostration. I also did some volunteer work at a disability transport service in admin, at a preschool and a solicitors’ office (again, doing admin tasks). These experiences after school, among others (i.e. participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp in 2015), made me who I am today. All these experiences allowed me to grow as a person.

TAFE courses (when properly funded and maintained by the government, of course), offer valuable skills and knowledge in the relevant field. A fee years ago, I attempted to do the Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and there was great information about the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and other frameworks that encompassed the National Quality Framework/ National Quality Standards. If I completed that course, I could have gotten credits if I wanted to do the Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. Could an aspiring future primary school teacher study early childhood first, gain experience and go in  as a mature age student? It’d help, wouldn’t it?

Also, what does this ATAR controversy say about teaching? Yes, it’s undervalued. Teachers often have to deal with so much, through both government expectations and parental demands. Too often, teachers perform tasks that are really beyond their role, like providing breakfast for students. Too many teachers are bombarded with bureaucratic red tape, so much so, that it can take away from the joy many teachers get in seeing students learn and grow.

 

To me this issue goes way beyond ATAR scores and what’s needed to become a teacher (either Bachelor or Master’s degree). I think what we really need is an overhaul in the way we view education. We need to value our teachers and allow them to perform the duties they are trained to do. Then, maybe some universities may require students have decent marks to be able to get in.

 

 

Categories
Politics

Budget announced – no guts or glory

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The Coalition Government has announced the Budget

 

The Coalition has announced it’s 2017 Budget. Not everyone is happy (well, everyone has a gripe with it, I think). Andrew Bolt has slammed it as a ‘Labor budget’. In today’s Herald Sun, columnist Susie O’Brien has called it a ‘fairytale’.

I call it a toothless tiger. It’s clear to me that the Coalition are still scarred by the backlash against Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in 2014. They aimed to cut welfare, even though much of it was knocked back in the Senate. Some cuts were made, including over $500 million dollars from Aboriginal health services. There was also a proposed plan for a six month freeze on New Start payments and compulsory interviews and ‘activities’ for Disability Support Pension recipients. Due to public backlash, Abbott and Hockey pedalled back on the Newstart  freeze, making potential recipients only wait for a month. There is also spending on education, health and infrastructure projects.

 

I call this year’s Budget a toothless tiger. Gutless really. Unlike Abbott/ Hockey, the Turnbull/ (Scott) Morrison Government went for the middle income earners, the banks and multinationals. The only group that has been targeted and fought back are university students, who will be forced to pay seven per cent more on their HECS – HELP loans, which will be due to be paid back when a graduate will earn just over $40,000 rather than $52,000 a year. Other than that, who, (at least theoretically), would protest the big four banks being targeted? Or multinationals? That’s what I mean by toothless tiger. They went for easy targets, with many concessions (railways, a new Sydney airport, etc). This has caused rumours on a possible election before 2019.

 

This Budget was gutless. While things like the tax cuts for small businesses are OK, there isn’t too much else to go on except to say that it’s infuriated traditional Coalition supporters. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

What did you think of the Budget announcement?