Media release: GSA strongly opposes education minister’s latest fee-change plan

Friday 19 June 2020

The University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association (GSA) strongly opposes Education Minister Dan Tehan’s fee-change plan announced earlier today – which proposed that some degree costs be reduced while more than doubling the cost of others.

GSA calls for the government to value and fully fund higher education appropriately, rather than devaluing and attacking it. The areas that are most are threatened by the changes, such as humanities, law, creative arts, communications and commerce, are all crucial for both our society and economy.

GSA does not see the minister’s rationale for increasing fees of these disciplines, other than wilfully punishing students with exorbitant fees. While some degrees are set to come down in price, this should not be at the expense of other students.

Improving employment rates hinges on the creation of jobs. Ostensibly, the government’s plan is aimed at increasing the rate of graduate employment. However, the plan does not achieve this – instead, it reallocates the cost of education in a way that defunds and devalues some pathways in order to prop up others, favouring those which are presumed or stereotyped to lead to better employment outcomes. The proposal does not create more jobs, and does not protect or improve quality of education.

Rather than being based on evidence, the government’s plan leans on misunderstandings about the career value of degrees.

“This plan rests on stereotyped thinking that wilfully miscategorises arts degrees as pointless, and seeks to punish them as a result of that stereotype, causing severe damage to real and tangible economic contributions from the humanities,” says GSA President Jeremy Waite.

GSA endorses the statement released by the National Union of Students (NUS), which outlines why the proposal is flawed and includes support from many leaders in the education sector.

GSA will be undertaking further analysis of this fee-change announcement, and will continue advocating for affordable, high-quality higher education. Please visit our website over the next few weeks for more information.

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