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The PRIA responds to university fees overhaul

Friday 19, Jun 2020

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) has rejected the Federal Government’s impending announcement of a major overhaul to university course fees, as short-sighted and overlooking the significant contribution communications makes to the Australian community.

The changes to be announced today will reportedly more than double the cost of studying humanities subjects, including public relations and communications qualifications.

Education Minister Dan Tehan is expected to announce a focus on what he describes as ‘job relevant’ courses that will see selected university fees slashed, while others will skyrocket.

PRIA National President, Leigh McClusky denounced the Minister’s decision as short-sighted and disappointing, with future public relations and communications students now facing the prospect of an increase in their fees to the highest price band of $14,500 per year.

“This is clearly an inequitable and ham-fisted approach to try and drive young Australians into areas of learning, which may neither be their choice nor their natural skill set,” she said.

“While clear, cogent and compelling communications may not be considered ‘job relevant’ by Mr Tehan, we would argue in a world that has been beset by confusion and upheaval, the ability for organisations – including the Government - to communicate effectively with our communities has had a critical role to play.”

“In fact, Australia’s ability to make significant progress on the fight against COVID-19 has been greatly assisted by clear communications, public health messaging and marketing campaigns which have ensured the population has largely abided by the health advice offered.”

Mr Tehan is expected to announce subjects in nursing, psychology, English, languages, teaching, agriculture, maths, science, health, environmental science, and architecture will be cheaper. The Government will reportedly increase its contribution to the cost of these classes, so students can expect to pay between $3,700 and $7,700 per year.

However, students enrolling to study law and commerce will have fees raised by 28 per cent.

For humanities courses, fees will more than double, putting them alongside law and commerce in the highest price band of $14,500 a year.

According to the Federal Government’s Job Outlook, Public Relations Professionals require a very high skill level of a bachelor’s degree or higher and are on track for stable growth with 12,000 new job openings in the next five years.

“While we agree measures need to be taken to stimulate employment, this approach to socially engineering the futures of young Australians by effectively forcing them into ‘favoured’ careers, like agriculture and maths, ignores the fact that training in communications and public relations is indeed ‘job relevant’ and increasingly necessary in our fragmented society,” said Ms McClusky.

“We wonder if those agriculture graduates will be on hand to carefully craft the Government’s and the Minister’s next difficult and unpalatable announcements, when they need an expert in communications?”

“We urge the Morrison Government to rethink this clearly retrograde move.” 

Media Contact:

Leigh McClusky MPRIA
National President Public Relations Institute of Australia
0411 711 780