House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Questions without Notice

Higher Education

3:03 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Education and Training) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is again to the Prime Minister. It's reported today that the number of applications for university has doubled this year, but thousands of young people will miss out on a place if the government doesn't scrap its unfair cap on student places. Why does the Prime Minister want young people to join the unemployment queue rather than study to be a nurse, a teacher or an engineer?

3:04 pm

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

We want young Australians to get the skills that they need to be able to get a job, and one of the first things we did when the pandemic hit was put in place, with the higher education sector, short courses. We put those short courses in place in areas where we knew there were going to be skills shortages and in areas where we knew, as we come out of this pandemic, people would be able to get a job—areas like teaching and like counselling, which are very important. One of the great tragedies we saw from the fires over Christmas was that we didn't have enough clinical psychologists to be able to provide the counselling needed. So we put it in those areas—in areas of STEM. What we have seen since Easter Sunday is that 20,000 students—that's what we estimate—have taken up those short courses.

We've also put in, with the university sector, performance based funding, which is growing extra places in the higher education sector. How performance based funding works is that we incentivise the higher education sector to educate people in the areas that we know that they will get a job—

Ms Coker interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Corangamite is warned.

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Minister for Education) Share this | | Hansard source

so we get graduate employment outcomes. Everything that we are doing we are doing by consulting with the sector and making sure that places continue to grow, and we continue to have discussions with the sector. We understand that one of the things that happens with unemployment is that you get counter-cyclical demand for higher education places, and we will continue to work with the sector to make sure that young Australians will come out of this COVID-19 pandemic with extra skills in the areas where we know that they will get jobs.