Costly lessons: uni students cop a caning on fees after budget changes

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS: Uni fees are set to increase by up to 114 per cent under budget changes.
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS: Uni fees are set to increase by up to 114 per cent under budget changes.

CHARLES STURT University course fees are set to rise by as much as 114 per cent as a result of the Federal Budget.

The government reforms, which include the deregulation of university fees from 2016, are concerning for students as well as university staff, who fear increased prices will deter students from tertiary study.

CSU vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said the budget proposed a 20 per cent cut in the federal government’s contribution to university courses.

“Obviously there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and we are expecting more movement on the issue as it goes through the Senate,” he said.

“But we have done some simple calculations, based on if we had to replace the money the government is taking out ... what would we have to charge.”

Professor Vann said fees for a bachelor degree in environmental science would go up by 114 per cent, science courses by 62 per cent, agriculture 48 per cent and veterinary science 41 per cent. 

He noted the university had been looking at introducing an engineering course, for which fees would also go up by 62 per cent. 

Professor Vann added that such significant price jumps were not expected for courses such as accounting, law and business administration. 

He said it was also a possibility that the cost of mathematics and humanities courses may go down a little.

“Mathematics may be cheaper, as they have reduced the number of bands, it used to get $10,000 government support and now gets $12,000,” he said.

Professor Vann said the University had yet to calculate figures for all disciplines, but noted CSU would be required to lift all fees by an average of 23.5 per cent.

However Professor Vann said no one was really expecting university fees to go down and added that setting fees may not be as simple as covering the funding gap.

“We might not do it that way ... but we might have to look at shifting university fees or setting a university course cap.”

Professor Vann said he was also concerned that regional students, who usually have less disposable income than their metropolitan counterparts, would be less willing to go to university.

“We just don’t know how it will go, I do know that a number of students say as it is say if they couldn’t come to CSU, they couldn’t afford to go anywhere.”