Peak academic and professional bodies have warned the Abbott Government its higher education changes will deter science and engineering students, depriving Australia of much-needed skills for the jobs of the future.
The Australian Council of Engineering Deans and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute have written separately to the Government warning that sharp fee hikes will see a downturn in enrolments and jeopardise the nation’s long-term economic prosperity.
Shadow Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr said the Government’s cuts to science and engineering courses meant fees would have to rise almost 60 to 70 per cent just to absorb the cuts, inevitably deterring many low- and middle-income prospective students.
“Our economic well-being depends on being able to supply science and engineering graduates for the skilled, high-tech jobs of the future.
“The Abbott Government clearly has no grasp of the challenges and opportunities ahead as it goes about gutting the sciences and creating disincentives to acquire training to the highest level.
“As the President of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans, Professor Daryoush Habibi, said in his letter to Education Minister Christopher Pyne:
‘We foresee a decline in the pipeline of students from school into the engineering careers that Australia needs to ensure our long-term economic prosperity and health.’
PROFESSOR DARYOUSH HABIBI,
PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING DEANS
“Or, as the President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Professor Mark Buntine, and President-Elect Professor Paul Bernhardt wrote to the Prime Minister and Treasurer,
‘A structural disincentive, in the form of significant university fee increases for science degrees, is not in the national interest . . . The RACI calls on the federal government to reconsider decisions that will have an adverse impact on Australian science and the nation's future prosperity.’
PROFESSOR MARK BUNTINE AND PROFESSOR PAUL BERNHARDT
PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN CHEMICAL INSTITUTE
“This Government, which has no science minister, no science policy and no understanding of the benefits of science, would do well to heed the advice of those warning of profound problems ahead if we don’t change tack,” Senator Carr said.
MONDAY, 23 JUNE 2014