Humanities degree fee hike is 'grossly unfair', says Templeman

Mandurah MP and Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman says the decision to increase the costs of humanities degrees is "grossly unfair". Photo: File image.
Mandurah MP and Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman says the decision to increase the costs of humanities degrees is "grossly unfair". Photo: File image.

The federal government's plan to more than double the cost of humanities courses as part of sweeping changes to higher education policy has disappointed many in the Peel region.

As part of the reforms a three-year humanities degree would more than double in cost for students, from about $20,000 now to $43,500.

Fees for law degrees, typically four years, would also jump from $44,620 now to $58,000.

Mandurah MP David Templeman, who is the Minister for Culture and the Arts, said the decision to increase the cost of humanities subjects by 113 per cent was "unfair".

"I think it is grossly unfair to discriminate between university degrees," he said.

"The humanities shape our modern and civic society and it is really disappointing the Liberal federal government cannot understand this."

Murdoch University film and digital studies lecturer Mark Regan says the humanities degree fee hike will directly impact his job. Photo: Supplied.

Murdoch University film and digital studies lecturer Mark Regan says the humanities degree fee hike will directly impact his job. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah filmmaker Mark Regan, who also teaches film and digital studies at Murdoch University, echoed this view as he said humanities contribute significantly to society.

"Humanities degrees create many important jobs in our society that boost our economy," he said.

"Humanities degrees help create the people we listen to on radio, the comedians that make us laugh, the artists that paint murals on buildings, and the journalists who keep our democracy intact."

The humanities shape our modern and civic society and it is really disappointing the Liberal federal government cannot understand this.

Mandurah MP David Templeman

Mr Regan, who has a career as a direct result of humanities degrees, said the reforms would mean "less jobs" for people like himself.

"Being a full time teacher for the last 15 years has enabled me to share my passion of film making with university students but also pay my mortgages and household bills," he said.

"But with extra fees deterring people from studying humanities, it will mean less jobs for people like me."

Education minister Dan Tehan says the reforms incentivise students to make more 'job-relevant' decisions about their education. Photo: File image.

Education minister Dan Tehan says the reforms incentivise students to make more 'job-relevant' decisions about their education. Photo: File image.

Announcing the reforms, Education minister Dan Tehan said it would incentivise students to make more 'job-relevant' decisions about their education.

"One of the sad things when you have a recession is that youth unemployment does grow and we've got to make sure that we skill young Australians so when the jobs are there, they can take them," he told ABC television last Friday.

As part of the plans, costs would be reduced for courses in teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages, agriculture, maths, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering.

In a time where universities across the world are seeing the benefit in mixing skill sets to create more holistic graduates and asking all students to take units outside their degree, Australia is punishing students for taking humanities units.

UWA Bachelor of Arts graduate Jamieson Kay

Those doing the more expensive degrees will be able to cut their costs by taking up courses in the cheaper, more "useful" areas.

UWA Bachelor of Arts graduate Jamieson Kay says doubling the price of humanities degrees punishes people wanting a more holistic education. Photo: Supplied.

UWA Bachelor of Arts graduate Jamieson Kay says doubling the price of humanities degrees punishes people wanting a more holistic education. Photo: Supplied.

But Murray UWA graduate Jamieson Kay, who studied English language and cultural studies, and political science and international relations, said humanities degrees were just as job-relevant as STEM courses.

"The current trend in the job market is to seek out good communication skills, critical thinking and analysis skills, as well as strong writing and editing all of which are essentially the bread and butter of the humanities," the Coolup woman said.

"Bachelor of Arts are also stepping stones to post graduate courses, which are job ready so they are now making it harder for people to access these job ready courses.

Read more:

"In a time where universities across the world are seeing the benefit in mixing skill sets to create more holistic graduates and asking all students to take units outside their degree, Australia is punishing students for taking humanities units, which just prevents people from getting a well rounded education.

"The government could help create a less hostile job market for graduates rather than try to force graduates into jobs which may or may not be there in five years when they graduate."