University arts and law students have been told to learn a language on the side after the Senate passed controversial fee reforms.
Education Minister Dan Tehan says university students whose fees will soon soar should also consider taking cheaper units in information technology.
“Think about doing some of the subjects which will help you be able to get a job at the other end, that are cheaper, as part of your degree,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
“You will also have access to the best loans system in the world when it comes to going to higher education.”
Humanities and economics students will soon pay up to 113 per cent more for their degrees under changes on the verge of passing federal parliament.
Mr Tehan, who has an arts degree, refused to say whether he would have studied something different if the extra fees applied at the time.
“I would have thought long and hard about doing subjects which would have helped me be more employable when I finished my degree,” he said.
The minister said the impending changes would see 60 per cent of future university students pay the same or less for their degrees and create an extra 30,000 places.
Mr Tehan said more people from regional and remote communities would also have the chance to study.
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie fought hard against the changes but they ultimately cleared the upper house with support from One Nation and Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff.
Senator Lambie fears the changes will discourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue higher education.
“I’ve still go the a lump in my throat,” she told the ABC.
“I find it so heartbreaking and so destroying for these kids. It has been pretty heart wrenching this week and I really, really feel for them.”
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles said the university fee reforms were full of contradictions.
“On one hand they’re trying to make STEM degrees cheaper. On the other hand they’re cutting funding from science,” he told the Nine Network.
“There are 200 less scientists at the CSIRO today than there were when this government came to office.
“It’s one thing to have cheaper degrees for people studying science. It’s actually about making sure there’s an economy that can employ people when they get those degrees.”
Mr Marles said humanities degrees were also important and should be accessible.
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