How much more a degree will cost under the Federal Government’s higher education reforms is becoming a little clearer.
Australia’s sandstone universities, including Sydney University and The University of WA, are planning to charge up to $48,000 for a basic bachelor degree in a deregulated market.
Students already contribute between $6,000 and $10,000 a year in fees. For example, a business degree at the University of Sydney currently costs about $32,000 for three years.
The University of WA (UWA) was the first to reveal what it plans to charge for a degree.
UWA proposes to set an annual student contribution of $16,000 starting in 2016 for domestic students in any of its undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Design, Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours).
The university, in a submission to the Senate committee on education, says the pricing is commensurate with its standing as one of Australia’s leading universities.
This is the pitch: “The University of Western Australia is offering future students the possibility to obtain a three year undergraduate degree from one of the world’s top 100 universities for under $50,000.”
Overall, the Federal Government’s higher education reforms, still to get the support of the Senate, mean the cost of a degree will go up at least 30% and as much as 60% more.
The 30% rise is the bottom end of the scale. This is roughly the shortfall universities face after the Federal Government cuts its funding, starting in 2016, under Budget measures announced in May.
The fees will vary university to university, depending on demand.
So far, universities have been reluctant to provide details on the new fees. They prefer to wait until the legislation is passed and see whether there are any changes or amendments.
However, the University of Sydney has now provided a glimpse into its modelling, what it will charge and how it plans to increase scholarship funding.
It’s confirmed its fees will be somewhere near those of Western Australia, what it describes as a degree for “the price of a family car“.
Vice-chancellor Michael Spence says that the new fee structure would mean the University of Sydney would be able to inject an additional $80 million into student financial support.
The university currently provides $80 million in scholarships to course work and research students, funded mainly by government schemes, private donors and university reserves.
Under the higher education reforms, 20% of any fee increase must be set aside for scholarships.
However, the university plans to spend significantly more than one-fifth of increased fees on scholarships.
However, Dr Spence’s $80 million still indicates the university will be bringing in some hundreds of million in extra fees to make up the shortfall in federal funding.
According to the university’s modelling, one in three of its undergraduate students would get a scholarship compared to one in 15 now.
The university believes the additional scholarship fund money could be provided in part as support for living costs.
The university is still doing the numbers but says it’s also investigating a proposal that the scholarship be used to pay off debt on graduation.
“We are deeply committed to ensuring that the brightest students, regardless of their social or cultural background, should have access to a world-class education,” says Dr Spence.