Review paves way for PM to reduce fees for arts degrees

The doubling of university fees for some arts degrees in Australia has unfairly burdened women and Indigenous students most likely to study in these areas, according to a high-powered panel investigating whether HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) costs should be reduced to lower student debt, writes Paul Sakkal for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Education Minister Jason Clare has asked the panel to review fees as part of what he is billing as the most substantial reforms to the sector in more than a decade. In a speech in Canberra on Wednesday 22 February, Clare emphasised his intent to boost outcomes for disadvantaged students, whom the panel found were let down by the Coalition’s doubling of university fees for some humanities degrees, as well as commerce and law.

“In consultation to date, the panel has heard widespread concerns about elements of this package and its impact on both students and institutions,” the panel wrote in a discussion paper released on Tuesday 21 February, clearing the path for the government to reverse the changes. “A major issue raised with the panel is that the impact of changes to student contributions is not being felt evenly across different student groups, with female and First Nations students being most affected by the largest fee increases … This is because the fields of study with the highest increases in student contributions, such as humanities and communications, are fields in which these students are over-represented.”
Full report on The Sydney Morning Herald site