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UWA sets undergraduate fee at $48,000

The Australian    |    23 September 2014

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The University of Western Australia is the first university to reveal its student fee structure under the government’s fee deregulation plans, advising a Senate committee it would charge an annual fee of $16,000 – $48,000 for a three year degree – for the five basic undergraduate courses it offers. That’s an increase of 160% for a degree in humanities disciplines (based on the 2015 student contribution of $6152 pa – $18,456 over three years).   And it does mean  a price tag of around $100,000 for “professional degrees”, such as law, medicine, architecture and engineering.

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Medicine will likely break the $100,000 mark under the new price structure and law will be around $95,000.   UWA says this is “commensurate’’ with its status as one of the leading universities in Australia and as one of the world’s top 100 universities.

The new fees would take effect from 2016 provided Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s reform package passes the Senate, where it is facing heavy opposition from Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer’s crossbenchers.

UWA’s pricing will set a benchmark for other elite Group of Eight universities as they reformulate their fees.

Deputy vice-chancellor Alec Cameron told The Australian:

We would have thought on average it is probably where an undergraduate degree would end up at a leading university.

Under the existing arrangements, students are charged ­nationally uniform fees depending on what course taken. The debt is accrued under the commonwealth’s Higher Education Loan Program and paid off after graduation.

Top-tier degrees, including medicine, dentistry, law, accounting and economics, attract a charge to students of $10,266 a year. A standard six-year medical degree costs a total of $61,596 in student contributions, while a five-year law course costs $51,333.

The lowest level of contributions is $6152 a year, levied on university courses in the humanities, social and behavioural sciences. This currently prices a three-year degree in teaching or social work at $18,456.

Pyne told The Australian that UWA’s proposed fees ­destroyed the “scare campaign’’ mounted by critics of the deregulation package, some of whom claim that $100,000 degrees will become prevalent.

Cameron said the university had released its provisional fee pricings to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee, which is examining the reforms, to “disabuse the notion’’ that the cost of standard undergraduate degrees would hit six figures.

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Based on the current legislation, UWA proposes to set an annual fee (student contribution) of $16,000 commencing in 2016 for domestic (Commonwealth-supported) students per annual fulltime enrolment (48 points of credit) in any of our five undergraduate degrees (BSc, BA, BCom, BDesign, BPhil(Hons)). The price will be subject to annual indexation.

                                                                                                                              – UWA Submission to Senate Committee

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See
UWA  statement on fees
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