Why Australia is doubling the fees for arts degrees
It is supported by a survey conducted by the University of Melbourne investigating the experiences of freshmen between 1994 and 2014. When students were asked their main reason for enrolling, intrinsic interest in their subject was consistently highest, before improving employment prospects. In 1994, 94% considered interest in their field to be an important reason to study, a figure that rose to 96% in 2014.
“I think the idea that you can persuade the student who is interested in the philosophy to go into engineering just isn’t how it’s going to work,” says Joel Barnes, public history researcher at the ‘Sydney University of Technology. Then there are also reasons beyond interest and job prospects that go into a student’s choice to choose an area of study. For example, people with learning disabilities may face additional challenges if they are forced to choose courses that do not correspond to their best way of learning or that are not taught in a way that is conducive to learning. their learning.
Sheehy points out that earlier education reforms in Australia made law degrees more expensive, yet universities continue to see a steady increase in the number of law graduates. Conrad Liveris, labor market economist, said ABC News that while the change may cause more students to at least think about taking job preparation courses, “whether or not they continue is another thing.”
Brown and Barnes recognize, however, that students from low-income backgrounds may end up factoring in price in their decision-making. Barnes fears that the “demographics” of the humanities will change to include fewer people from the working class or less privileged backgrounds, which he says would be a great shame. “If the humanities become something that is reserved only for the privileged, they will become less diverse, less critical and less interesting.
This is a sentiment shared by Tiana Sixsmith, a third year anthropology and human rights student at Monash University in Melbourne. “What we think we’re seeing is that those who don’t have to worry about the fees aren’t going to worry about it,” says Sixsmith. But she is aware that fee increases are already prompting people from disadvantaged socio-economic groups to reconsider studying particular subjects, based on conversations she has had with student activist groups and Facebook group discussions oppose the change in fees.
Culture war or common sense?
Sixsmith also raises a question that has sparked heated debate in the Australian higher education community – whether change is a “ideological jab in the artsOr a solid plan that will “really support students and universities after the pandemic”. Barnes, in a recent article, described the changes as the latest battle in a “decades-old” cultural war against the humanities waged by those who perceive them “as generally antagonistic to political interests”.