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Australia’s university fee overhaul to make STEM courses cheaper than arts

australia university fees
Australia's workforce needs more scientists, nurses, and other health professionals. Could a university fee overhaul encourage more enrolments in these fields? Source: William West/Pool/AFP

The Australian government has proposed a university fee overhaul that will see reduced rates for STEM courses, but increased rates for arts and humanities courses.

This plan aims to increase overall student contribution by 6%, thus creating more places at university without increasing government funding.

Education Minister Dan Tehan presented this plan in a speech to the National Press Club on Friday, 19 June. By encouraging “job-relevant” courses, the government hopes to attract more Australian students to get their qualifications and join the workforce to restore the economy post-COVID-19.

Will a university fee overhaul create job-ready graduates?

australia university fees

Demand for healthcare, science and technology, education and construction jobs are expected to increase in the next five years. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Most Australian university students take a government loan to pay for their studies and repay later through tax.

Although the government’s main aim is to restore jobs for its citizens, these revised fees could also be positive for international students who want to study STEM in one of the country’s many institutions.

Under this plan, fees for agriculture and maths courses would drop from nearly 28,600 Australian dollars over three years to A$11,100. Similar reductions will be applied for teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, science, health, architecture, information technology (IT), and engineering.

On the other hand, fees for arts and humanities courses could double. For example, degrees in history or cultural studies could increase by 113%.

The university fee overhaul is based on the government’s prediction of high-growth industries in the next five years. Simply put, Australia wants more graduates in healthcare, science, technology, education and construction.

Australia university fees 2021: Who will be affected?

australia university fees

Fees for nursing courses are anticipated to reduce from A$6,804 to A$3,700 annually. Source: Ina Fassbender/AFP

As an international student, you should know that these changes will only apply to those who enrol in 2021. University course fees for current students will remain.

Another important detail to note is that the changes “are based at a unit level, not a degree level,” Tehan said.

He went on to explain, “So if you are going to do philosophy, we want you to think about doing a language. If you are going to do ancient Greek, do IT with it. Just make sure that you are thinking about getting the skills that you’ll need to get a job beyond your degree.”

See the list of revised course fees here:

Course field  Current yearly student fee (A$)

Proposed yearly student fee (A$)

Food and hospitality 11,355 14,500
Management and commerce 11,355 14,500
Mixed fields 11,355 14,500
Law and Economics 11,355 14,500
Humanities 6,804 14,500
English 6,804 3,700
Architecture & building 9,698 7,400
IT 9,698 7,400
Mathematics 9,698 3,700
Health 9,698 7,400
Society and Culture 6,804 14,500
Education 6,804 3,700
Clinical Psychology 6,804 3,700
Communications 6,804 14,500
Languages 6,804 3,700
Creative arts 6,804 11,300
Allied health 9,698 7,400
Nursing 6,804 3,700
Engineering 9,698 7,400
Science 9,698 7,400
Agriculture 9,698 3,700
Dentall 11,355 11,300
Environmental studies 9,698 7,400
Medical science 11,355 7,400
Medicine 11,355 11,300
Vet science 11,355 11,300

Source: The Guardian Australia

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