Funding concerns with passage of the Job-Ready Graduates legislation

19 October 2020

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) remains unconvinced that the Federal government’s Job-Ready Graduates legislation will increase Australia’s STEM-skilled workforce.

The new funding model for Higher Education courses will now become law after the formal passage of the bill through Parliament today. Under the changes, STEM courses will be less expensive for students, but universities will receive less government funding to run them.

The 2020-21 Federal Budget also projects that Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding will fall below current levels, once the transitional funding arrangements in the Job-Ready Graduates package conclude at the end of 2023.

“It’s been estimated that under the funding model the cost to universities of providing science and engineering degrees could increase by around 16-17% per student,” ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said.

“For that reason, we will be closely monitoring university enrolments in 2021 to see if the reforms incentivise students to choose STEM courses, and for any reduction in the number of STEM courses on offer.”

As a result of the higher education funding crisis caused by COVID-19 universities are already cutting jobs and course in STEM disciplines.

Macquarie University has indicated it may be forced to close 30 science and engineering courses next year. Last week, the Australian National University announced 103 positions would go from its Science faculty, 21 from Engineering and Computer Science and 11 from its Research and Innovation portfolio.

“The Job-Ready Graduates package promises to deliver immediate support to universities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the current evidence doesn’t support this.

“The legislation provides for a review of the funding changes 18 months after they commence, this will be an important opportunity for checking whether the changes add up,” Ms Walker said.

MEDIA CONTACT or 0419 976 903

Our full submission on the legislation can be found here