Is it the reform that changes university education for generations?
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan on Friday announced a new initiative to create an additional 39,000 university places by 2023 and 100,000 places by 2030. Funding for places would be directly linked to job outcomes. Jobs in high demand would be funded more.
Students studying teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages will pay 46 per cent less for their degrees, Mr Tehan said. Agriculture and maths degrees would cost 62 per cent less, science, health, environmental science, IT and engineering 20 per cent less. But students studying law and commerce would have to pay 28 per cent more and those studying humanities would have to cough up 113 per cent more.
Universities, including our own Deakin, have been calling out for changes to funding models. The new fee structure and its intent to create more places should be good for business. But what does it mean for Deakin University's Warrnambool campus which almost closed four years ago because of declining student numbers?
More places should translate into more students at Warrnambool, which is a major plus. Its most popular degrees - nursing and teaching - will be 46 per cent cheaper for domestic students. But commerce, another popular course - will be 28 per cent dearer.
There was a time when commerce was the flagship degree at Sherwood Park. It attracted students from across the state and overseas and graduates were highly sought-after by accounting firms, including the south-west's two biggest operations.
Will the fee rise hurt Warrnambool's commerce degree? Michael Callaghan, acting president of the National Tertiary Education Union Deakin branch, thinks so.
Mr Tehan knows how close Warrnambool came to losing its university campus. He was among those leading the charge to save it. While its future is more assured than it was four years ago with the exciting hydrogen research project in its infancy, Mr Tehan knows it needs every bit of help possible. Just like us and Deakin officials, he will be hoping the new fee structure plants seeds of knowledge that grow forever.