Statement on the Australian Government’s Higher Education Funding Proposal

The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History joins with other concerned organisations and individuals in condemning the federal government’s university funding proposals. These proposed changes are yet another diminution of government support for higher education that risks eroding its overall quality. 

The package also represents a continuing failure to provide adequate support for the university sector at a time when it is under unprecedented pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and large numbers of jobs are at risk. 

The proposals reduce the total level of public funding per student for teaching while doing nothing to improve or even maintain the quality of higher education. The government has also falsely presented subjects such as history, with its exemplary record of educating students for citizenship and employment, as lacking ‘job-relevance’. And, in an effort to direct students to other fields, the package withdraws almost all government support for most humanities subjects including history, thereby greatly increasing the cost of such courses to students. 

The increased costs will potentially discourage students from working-class, First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds from taking up studies that have, historically, been transformative for both the students and the humanities and social sciences disciplines themselves. 

The Society demands that the federal government abandon this poorly conceived proposal and calls on other federal parliamentarians to oppose its passage through the parliament. It also invites all organisations in Australia representing history, the humanities and the social sciences to join with the Society in campaigning against this destructive policy.