Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Job-ready Graduates Package
I, and also on behalf of Senator Faruqi, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) 2021 is the first year of university study under the Morrison Government's fee hikes and funding cuts,
(ii) the Job-ready Graduates Package more than doubled fees for new students in some of the most popular university courses and slashed Commonwealth contributions to teaching and learning,
(iii) according to Universities Australia, at least 17,300 jobs were lost in the university sector in 2020, and universities lost an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue compared to 2019, and
(iv) early enrolment data from tertiary admissions centres indicates tens of thousands of commencing students will be saddled with more than double the debt they would have accrued without the Morrison Government's fee hikes;
(b) calls on the Morrison Government to fully fund higher education, significantly boost research funding and make university fee-free for all; and
(c) calls on universities' senior management to reject further austerity and do everything in their power to preserve university jobs.
Labor wants every Australian to be able to get a great, affordable education no matter where they live or their background. The government's Job-ready Graduates Package will make it harder and more expensive for thousands of students to go to uni. When Labor was last in government we uncapped university places and introduced demand-driven funding so that every Australian who worked hard and got good grades could go to uni. Labor calls on the government to make university affordable for every student. However, we won't be supporting this motion because there are better, more targeted ways to make sure tertiary education is in reach for all Australians.
Our Job-ready Graduates Package is creating up to 30,000 additional university places in 2021, up to 100,000 places by 2030 and bringing down the cost of degrees in key areas. The cost of agriculture and maths degrees is down 59 per cent and the cost of nursing and teaching degrees is down 42 per cent. Our intent was to encourage more students into courses where there was the best chance of getting a job. Pleasingly this is now happening, with applications for courses such as agriculture up 60 per cent and applications for courses in health up 15.5 per cent. Our universities are in a strong financial position, declaring a $2.3 billion surplus in 2019. Universities Australia's own figures show an operating loss of less than five per cent in 2020, with Monash University, for example, recently declaring a surplus of $259 million.