House debates

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Higher Education

2:49 pm

Photo of Lucy WicksLucy Wicks (Robertson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Education and Youth. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government's 100,000 additional university places will help Australian school leavers to get the skills and qualifications they need to get a job during the COVID-19 recovery and create a stronger Australia in 2021 and beyond?

2:50 pm

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Youth) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Robertson for her question and for her incredible advocacy for the University of Newcastle, and particularly the Central Coast campus based just near her electorate. From this year, Australian school leavers will be able to benefit from the government's Job-ready Graduates Package. This is a package which is aimed at giving more opportunities for young people to do a course and to then get a job. There are many components to this particular package. First, there will be 30,000 more universities places in 2021 and 100,000 additional places over the decade. There is $903 million of investment to support that.

Secondly, we've actually changed the prices of some of these courses so that people are encouraged to do the degrees and the courses which have the best shot at leading to work at the end. You'll find, for example, that science, engineering and IT have gone down 18 per cent in price this year compared to last year. Nursing has gone down 42 per cent this year, and agriculture and maths are down 59 per cent in price this year. All up, students who enrol this year—60 per cent of them—will be paying either less or the same amount this year compared to what they would have paid last year. Of course, there's no charge upfront for those students. We've already seen the results of these price changes, with early application data showing more people are, in fact, enrolling in teaching, agriculture and nursing—good results.

For regional students, who I know many are concerned about here, and those students who live some distance away from a university campus, we're making it easier for them by introducing a new $5,000 tertiary access payment to help those students get to a campus if they live more than 90 minutes away from one. Again, that's about creating opportunities for those students to be able to take up those courses.

Finally, a real innovation—and I commend the minister for trade for this package—is the new, additional 50,000 short courses, six-month courses, specifically for those people who may have lost their jobs last year during the pandemic, to quickly upskill, get a qualification and then be able to get back into the workforce.

This is an incredible package: $1.5 billion worth of investment and 150,000 opportunities for people in Australia. Ultimately, that will lead to more jobs, which is what this government is all about creating.