Short-sighted on humanities, amnesia on science

The Government’s plan to more than double fees for humanities, society and culture, law, business, and hospitality courses to $14,500 a year makes absolutely no sense. 

According to the Government’s own graduate outcomes survey, over 90% of graduates in these fields were in work in 2019 and it seems unlikely that jobs in these fields were unnecessary so why is the Government now ‘picking winners’ instead of helping build back the jobs that have been lost? 

Like its refusal to extend JobKeeper to those in casual work in the creative arts (aren’t they all?), the Government’s new version of Jobs-n-Growth sends the message that some jobs are much more ‘worthy’ than others.

The Minister says the plan creates 39,000 new places in teaching, nursing, science and engineering by 2023 but they will be paid for on the back of the humanities and cuts in teaching and learning budgets. 

It’s good to fund more places for science but that’s not exactly been an area of employment growth under this government.

Who could forget the 2014 Abbott Government cuts of $800 million to science and research agencies including $111 million cut to CSIRO. 200 more scientists were made redundant in 2015/16 for climate science and other ‘public good-science’? Staffing caps were imposed last year and in January this year 20% of staff in CSIRO’s energy business unit were sacked. Reductions in indexation in science and research programs took $345 million out of university research funding. 

$500 million in spending for students of Indigenous, regional and low-socioeconomic backgrounds to be at university is welcome.

With the university sector already under great strain with the loss of overseas students, reducing Federal Government contributions to humanities courses will be hugely disruptive and likely to be counter-productive. Many students take undergraduate arts degrees before diplomas in education and other fields.

It’s as if we no longer need historians, journalists, writers, lawyers, economists or people who study politics. Now there’s a thought…

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