The National Party is demanding changes to the Morrison Government’s planned overhaul of the university system, warning a “glaring” design flaw could leave country students worse off. Source: ABC News.
The Coalition Government announced in June it planned to double the cost of humanities degrees, while slashing the course fees of “job-relevant” subjects.
Nationals MP and Minister for Regional Education, Andrew Gee, said his party, the junior party in the Coalition, was concerned the changes would deter students from studying social studies and behavioural science courses, which were set to become significantly more expensive.
He said that was a “glaring and potentially detrimental design flaw”.
“Given country Australia has been devastated by bushfires, floods, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that regional communities have easy access to mental health services and support,” he said in a statement.
“The proposed reforms, in their current state, recommend that a number of social work, behavioural science and mental health disciplines be classified in the humanities cluster, which is the highest-paying cluster for students.
“We believe this would only serve to further increase the maldistribution of mental health workers in country Australia.”
He also called for students who enrolled before the January 1, 2021, introduction of the changes to be exempt from paying higher fees, regardless of how long they took to finish their courses.
Education Minister Dan Tehan said the draft bill was now open to public consultation.
“We will consider all feedback as part of drafting the final legislation that is put to Parliament,” he said.
Nationals demand changes to controversial university fee hikes (By Jade Macmillan, ABC News)