See More

Higher education proposed fee changes 2020

Statement from AASW CEO Cindy Smith on proposed fee changes to higher education

24 June 2020

You will be aware of the recent announcements made by the Morrison Government concerning the restructuring of university fees.

Many of our members have contacted us regarding the proposed higher education funding changes and how they may affect social work degrees. These include our members who work within higher education and our student members.

When the proposed changes were announced on Friday and we immediately sought clarification from the Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

In addition, we are seeking meetings with other decision makers, including Minister for Health Greg Hunt, and we are working with The Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work and other stakeholders to advocate on this issue.

On Monday, National President Christine Craik gave an interview to The Australian's Tim Dodd explaining our position. On Tuesday, she gave a further interview with ABC Radio Adelaide's Morning program with David Bevan.

We have concerns that the student contribution for a social work degree could increase from $6,804 to $14,500 per year.

As every qualified social worker knows, social work degrees are vocational, with structured field education included in the degree, which produces a work-ready graduate.

Social workers have been deemed essential workers during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We have had recent and ongoing royal commissions into aged care, disability, mental health and family violence, and what keeps coming up is that quality, professional workers are required in these fields. There are identified workforce shortages in these areas. In addition, the AASW is an assessing authority for international qualifications to address these workforce shortages.

The AASW will advocate for social work degrees not to be included in the highest student contribution Band 4 at $14,500. Social workers are essential, frontline services that are currently under-resourced, with a predominantly female workforce. A disproportionately large higher education debt for a profession that is there to assist the most vulnerable in society, and which is not a high-earning profession is not a policy position that is acceptable to AASW.

We will keep you updated on our progress.

Cindy Smith
Chief Executive Officer

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers