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Don’t Listen to the Aus Govt – We Need More Arts Graduates

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Don’t Listen to the Aus Govt – We Need More Arts Graduates

If you’re in Year 12 this year, it’s likely that you’re feeling a bit up against it.

There’s the Covid-19 pandemic, sure, but there’s also a whole host of other terrible things going on in the world right now. And on top of all that, in June 2020 the Australian government announced that it would be massively changing the costs of university degrees, to make STEM degrees cheaper, and Arts degrees up to 113% more expensive. 

Here’s a graphic from The Guardian that breaks down what these changes actually look like.

What Year 12 students have to say

Current Year 12 student Bella Micthell-Sears spoke up about this on Q&A on ABC, saying:

“As a young woman with an interest in politics from a young age, I planned on next year studying an arts degree to pursue a political career, as many have before me.

However, recent changes by your government have seen the price of my degree skyrocket, making a political career seem further out of reach.”

And if you’re in Year 12, and are on a pathway towards a law degree, or an arts degree, it’s not like you can change your subjects mid year to meet the prerequisites for an engineering degree or a medical degree. But this is just part of the reason why this announcement is problematic. 

Year 12 student Spencer Ryan said that the announcement had made him reconsider what he was going to study at university. He said:

“I think that the way in which it’s influenced my thinking is an indicator that the change is doing exactly what the government wants it to do, by pushing me into a field that they deem more employable … but I don’t think that’s what university and education is primarily about.”

Why Arts degrees matter

We’re not about to tell you not to pursue STEM if that’s your thing – it’s true that we need scientists; we need engineers, pharmacists, nurses, and doctors. 

But we also need social scientists; we need people who understand society, people, culture, history, and how these work together. Arts degrees produce lawyers, artists, historians, writers, economists, and communication experts. Can you imagine a world without these kinds of people?

We need to change our thinking around what it means to have an Arts degree.

Sure, we’ve all heard the jokes before: “What do you say to an arts graduate with a job?” Answer: “I’ll have a Quarter Pounder, with fries.” But guess what – research actually shows that humanities graduates earn more than students who study mathematics and science, and 95.8% of law graduates, 95.5% of business graduates and 91.1% of humanities graduates are employed 3 years after graduation. 

It seems pretty clear that the demand for Arts graduates isn’t dropping off the face of the Earth any time soon. Arts graduates help our society function, and that’s what’s so frustrating about all of this.

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