2024-25 Budget

Posted in Statements on 21 May 2024

The government delivered its budget on 14 May. While DASSH welcomes the government’s announcement that it will be implementing a needs-based funding scheme to come into effect from January 2026, the government has missed an opportunity to reform the Job-ready Graduates scheme which has unfairly targeted students in the humanities, arts and social sciences. 

The government has indicated that it will be adopting the target put forward by the Universities Accord Review Panel to reach 80 per cent of the working age population obtaining a tertiary qualification by 2050. As we have argued, a needs-based funding scheme is necessary to drive this higher rate of participation.

A needs-based approach will help increase the number of students attending university, particularly for regional, low-SES and Indigenous students as well as those living with a disability. Many of these students can be found in the humanities, arts and social sciences.

Department of Education figures show that in 2022 there were more than 30,000 remote and regional students and almost 30,000 students from low socio-economic families who studied society and culture courses, many of which are in the Arts field, including the humanities. Nearly 5,000 First Nations students and around 28,000 students who have a disability were also enrolled.

While a needs-based approach will support students enrolled in our disciplines, those studying humanities, arts and social sciences degrees are still being penalised with higher fees as part of the Job-ready Graduates (JRG) scheme which the Government failed to address.

In 2024, many of these students will be charged $16,323 for a year of tuition, compared with $12,720 for medicine and $8,948 for engineering.

JRG has not succeeded in its purpose of redirecting student preferences. DASSH calls on the government to replace JRG with a model that centres on students’ needs and social equity.

Other policies outlined in the budget and announced recently by the government include:

  • Lowering HECS indexation, removing around $3 million in student debt
  • Students studying social work, nursing, midwifery and teaching to be paid for mandatory placements
  • FEE-FREE Uni Ready preparatory courses to support students entering higher education
  • Establishment of the Australian Tertiary Education Commission by July 2025
  • Commissioning an independent review into research and development
  • Establishment of a National Student Ombudsman
  • Introduction of a Managed Growth Funding System for Commonwealth supported places to meet student demand
  • Implementation of a National Higher Education Code to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence

Professor Nick Bisley
DASSH President