The federal government has announced a relief package for higher education in hopes of up-skilling Australians in vital sectors to prepare for when the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 6,289 in Australia cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 58 people have died.
There are 80 people in ICU and 36 patients using ventilators.
There are more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, and more than 97,000
“We are slashing the prices of degrees and diplomas in short courses,” Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan told reporters on Sunday.
“To enable people, rather than bingeing on Netflix, to binge on studying, binge at looking at a nursing degree, and allied health degree.”
Tehan urged universities to seize the opportunity to be “world leaders” in “short courses” and “micro- credentialling” and help Australians use the next six months “to re-school, to re-skill, or to re-engage in other parts of the workforce.”
Tehan said domestic students who are interested in taking up this opportunity should contact their desired university.
The higher education relief package is reportedly worth $18 billion and will include new short courses for the unemployed and $100 million in regulatory relief for education providers.
The cheaper courses will be offered for six months including remotely delivered diplomas in priority areas such as health, nursing, teaching, and IT. The new extra places are designed to help counteract the massive financial loss universities have suffered from the absence of international students.
“When it comes to our universities we are going to put a ballast into their finances. We are ensuring that when it comes to the Commonwealth grant scheme, what we estimated their income this year, that they would get from the CGS, they will get,” Minister Tehan said.
“So the estimates will now become the reality for the University sector, providing a ballast for them when it comes to fee help, the student loan contribution, they will also get a window to repay that.
“So they will not have to repay fee help if there is under enrolment of students next year, and then we will give them eight years to repay any under enrolments of the fee help calculation.”
Australian Greens Senator for NSW and Education spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi slammed the package, saying “guaranteeing the funding already budgeted for 2020 does not provide stability” and added the government has neglected TAFE.
“We need more than just life support for higher education,” she said in a statement.
“University funding has been falling for many years. Now is the time to introduce free university and TAFE for all, with a big funding boost to secure jobs and ensure the long term success of higher education in Australia.
“The terrible decision by the government to abandon university staff means they will continue to face uncertainty and instability. Higher education providers should be eligible for JobKeeper payments and all staff, including all casuals, should be supported through this very difficult time.”