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Cost of university degrees plummet

Arts students will be hit with big bills while would-be nurses, IT and maths students will get cheap degrees under a dramatic shake-up to encourage students into professions with job growth.

As the nation grapples with the worst economic crisis in a generation, school leavers who choose arts will be slugged with a more than doubling of fees from $6084 to $14,500 a year, while from 2021 studying nursing will cost just $3700 a year.

While 60 per cent of students will have cheaper degrees or see no change, law, commerce and humanities students will all have to fork out more.

Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: AAP
Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan. Picture: AAP

Education Minister Dan Tehan announced the "Job Ready Graduates" overhaul on Friday, which also includes an extra 39,000 university places by 2023.

"Students will have a choice," Mr Tehan said.

"Their degree will be choose to study in areas where there is expected growth in job opportunities."

The changes will be made at a unit level, rather than a degree level, which means an arts student can cut the cost of their degree by choosing electives in maths, English, science or IT.

There will also be an additional 100,000 government subsidised university places offered by 2030.

"Students will still pay less for those degrees in Australia than they would for a similar degree in similar countries, like the USA and the UK," Mr Tehan said.

The overhaul comes as more than 40,000 of the state's jobless are feeling so bleak about their prospects due to COVID-19 they have given up looking for work.

Workforce participation has slumped to its lowest in nearly two decades, with warnings yesterday it will take at least two years to recover.

The dire outlook pushed 142,000 Australians to stop searching for a job last month, while at the same time a further 43,900 people lost their jobs in NSW bringing the state's unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the 227,700 job losses nationwide as "heartbreaking," warning of worse to come despite COVID-19 restrictions starting to ease.

"These are our dark times," he said. "I can see that ray of light … but we have to keep moving towards it and work harder each and every day."

Nursing will cost just $3700 a year from 2021. Picture: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
Nursing will cost just $3700 a year from 2021. Picture: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

The devastating jobs data showed workforce participation fell to 62.9 per cent, its lowest rate since 2001, and almost 228,000 jobs were lost in May, the second largest drop on record. There was a massive 10.2 per cent reduction in the number of hours worked since March, while 103,000 young people lost their job in May, making up 45 per cent of losses.

One in five Australians either worked fewer hours than normal or lost their job in May.

Australia's official unemployment rate increased to 7.1 per cent but, accounting to those who stopped looking for work the actual rate is about 11 per cent. In NSW the unemployment rate for women rose to 6.6 per cent compared with 6.2 per cent for men.

Former Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said: "We are not out of the woods yet … we need to continue the stimulus at both a state and federal level."

Originally published as How much every university degree will cost in 2021