Arts students hit hardest by government changes to university fees – Dr Paul Morrissey

26 Jun 2020

Campion president Dr Paul Morrissey has given a strong defence of arts degrees in an interview with the Catholic Leader:

A Catholic academic has defended the value of popular arts degrees after the Federal Government announced sweeping changes to high education funding aimed at producing “job-ready graduates”.


“It’s a shame to send a message that the humanities aren’t worthwhile in terms of career,” Campion College president Paul Morrissey said, after Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan outlined a new fees structure for tertiary students that will start next year.


Arts students may be the hardest hit, with fees set to more than double for humanities and communications subjects.



“Our Government wants to keep Australians in jobs, and to educate the next generation of Australians to get a job, Mr Tehan told the National Press Club on June 19.


“We want our students to receive an education that sets them up for future success –because if graduates succeed, they will power an economic recovery that benefits all Australians.


“And, when the economy is facing its greatest economic shock since the Great Depression, success looks like a job.”


However, Dr Morrissey said he understands what the government is trying to achieve, but the focus may be shortsighted.


“Humanities are very worthwhile, vocationally speaking. Obviously not to be a medical doctor or nuclear scientist, but in terms of being a good writer or thinker, to be able to analyse things well and not to put everything in one box but to see things more broadly,” he said.


“Humanities are crucial and so many career pathways value that.”



Dr Morrissey said Australia’s public universities had moved a long way from having humanities at their heart and were already vocationally oriented.


Campion College in Sydney’s west, is named in honour of the 16th century Jesuit scholar and martyr, St Edmund Campion, and maintains a traditional liberal arts model, preparing students “for both work and life”.


As a small, but growing private institution that sets its own fees, Dr Morrissey predicts it should not be deeply affected by the latest government restructure.


“Humanities are intrinsically what education should be about,” Dr Morrissey said.


“In other words a study of who we are: a study of the human person, culture, where we’ve come from, the institutions that have formed the culture.


“Without knowing that it is hard to be a good citizen.”

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