‘Elite’ uni warning

PERTH CBD’s new uni campuses may end up “a playground for the elite” as a result of sharply rising course fees, warns federal Labor MP Patrick Gorman.

The ink was barely dry on the Perth City Deal paving the way for ECU’s Mount Lawley campus to move into the city, when it was confirmed the Morrison government had negotiated to get higher fees for humanities and law degrees through the Senate. 

On Tuesday October 6 South Australia’s Centre Alliance announced its senators would support the Morrison government’s fee hikes, and starting next year humanities degrees will double in price, while law and commerce degrees will shoot up about a third. Maths, teaching, nursing, and tech degrees will be cheaper, intended to encourage uni-goers into what the government sees as more employable fields in the future.

The Perth City Deal also brings in a tech-based slice of Murdoch campus, but the bulk of ECU’s presence in the city will be WA Academy of Performing Arts, business and law students who will have to pay more. 

“Think of the impact on Perth,” Mr Gorman says. “It’s kind of bizarre that we’ve got this great new Edith Cowan City Campus, but the students that are going to study at WAAPA are going to be paying twice as much as current WAAPA students, so it doesn’t make our universities more accessible, and indeed it makes our universities more of a playground for the elite than a great leveller for Australia.

“Are we going to get a school for the best and the brightest [with] the most merit-based system, or kids having to choose whether they can afford to go? That’s what concerns me.” 

Mr Gorman studied social science at Curtin Uni, costing $12,000 at the time in the early-mid 2000s. Including inflation and the fee hike, the course will cost three times that in 2021.

SA’s Centre Alliance supported the fee change on the basis it’d address what they called a “glut” of law graduates at the same time we’re having to import tech graduates.


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