• Arts and social degrees are set to more than double as part of the federal government's changes to university funding. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The peak body for children in NSW has called for social work and community services qualifications to be re-classified to avoid the federal government's plans to increase fees for arts degrees.
Keira Jenkins

24 Jul 2020 - 1:14 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2020 - 1:17 PM

The Federal Government's plans to increase arts degree fees by 113 per cent have sparked calls to re-categorise social work and other community services degrees.

These degrees, including human services and youth work, are currently classified under the 'umbrella' of arts degrees, which means the price of these qualifications are set to more than double.

The chairperson of AbSec, the peak body for Indigenous children in NSW, Dana Clarke said the price hike just doesn't make sense.

"These services are vitally important to Aboriginal children and communities," Ms Clarke told NITV News.

"The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the health and social assistance sector is the fastest growing job market, but what the government is saying is that these price rises are for degrees with less demand, and making these important degrees basically unaffordable, especially for Aboriginal people.

"We should be encouraging people to take up degrees in social work, youth work, which are so needed, not making it so it takes 20 years to pay back the cost of the degree."

Ms Clarke said raising the prices of these degrees by such a significant amount could result in a workforce shortage, which would disproportionately affect Aboriginal children and their communities, who have the highest rate of interaction with these professions.

"It's a bad decision, it's ridiculous," she said.

"Government should be thinking more about the long-term impacts of their decisions. It just doesn't work to make decisions without consulting or understanding long-term impacts of a decision.

"I don't understand why this decision has been made."

Ms Clarke said not only should social work and community services degrees be re-classified, but the 113 per cent fee increase should also not go ahead.

"The community service sector should come out of that 'arts' umbrella," she said.

"Really, it should come under 'health' degrees, which are having fees cut.

"But also that 113 per cent increase is huge, not only do you have to have the time to do a four-year degree and pay for all the costs that come with that, but it'll take years and years to be able to pay the cost of the degree too."

As part of the government's changes to university funding, degrees such as humanities, arts and law would see a fee increase while qualifications in agriculture, maths, teaching, science, health, architecture, IT and engineering would be subject to a decrease in fees.

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