Brynn Daly, an arts student at the University of Sydney, said the cost of her course had little bearing on her degree choice and she was not surprised demand had risen despite fee hikes .
“I was pretty determined to study politics and French,” she said.
“What’s been frustrating as an arts student is that we’ve heard all these things about fee increases, but we’ve actually had a lot of reductions in subjects.”
Daly said introducing fee hikes as a way to discourage students from studying an arts degree was never going to work.
“Most people I know didn’t choose topics based on fees, we chose our topics based on their interests or future careers, but I know that comes from a bit of privilege,” she said.
“The humanities are so important, they taught me so many critical thinking skills and different ways to approach real-world issues.”
Professor Catharine Coleborne, chair of the Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, said that as well as passing the debt burden onto students, the fee hikes had also created problems for the funding for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. .
She said universities were receiving less revenue from STEM subjects under the changes, making it harder to deliver and sustain expensive courses.
“Students still choose [humanities] because there are a large number of people in the world of work who have studied these degrees and so it is proof that the workforce needs these skill sets, ”she said .
“The reforms have not led to much except a reorganization of budgets within universities.
“It might end up having the kind of longer-term impact of influencing students, but so far it hasn’t done anything at all.”
Norton said the new Labor government should quickly enact legislation to reduce fee hikes.
“Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to do a simple inversion….they can’t afford it in the current fiscal climate because of the extra subsidy it would require,” he said.
“But they can do a lesson exchange without a budget.”
Education Minister Jason Clare said waivers of fee hikes would be considered as part of the review of the work-ready graduate scheme to which the previous government had committed.
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