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News 3 Aug 2020 - 3 min read

PR industry targets Federal Government's 'ill-conceived changes' to comms degree fees

By Press release - The Australian Communications Advocacy Group

The Australian Communications Advocacy Group (ACAG) has been launched to advocate against the ill-conceived changes to university tuition fees announced by the Federal Government, which ACAG argues will cause significant unintended negative consequences across a range of sectors.

ACAG is an initiative of the Public Relations institute of Australia (PRIA), joined by two other important founding coalition members:

  • International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) chapters in Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra
  • International Association of Public Participation (IAP2 Australasia)

Under its Jobs Ready Graduate Package, the Federal Government has flagged a 91.9 per cent cut in its contribution to Communications degrees, placing these degrees in the bracket facing the biggest decrease to any of the university disciplines.

National PRIA President and ACAG chair, Leigh McClusky said the changes fly in the face of an inclusive Australia and the very skills which the government increasingly relies on to communicate.

“These changes mean that humanities students will now face a massive 113 per cent increase in pursuit of their chosen careers. Potential communications students will now have to find $14,500 each year of their university education, up from the current level of $6,804 per annum. That is simply unacceptable,” said McClusky.

International Association of Business Communicators Vice Chair Danielle Bond, called for broader consideration of the diversity humanities graduates bring to the workforce.

“Many organisations in STEM industries in Australia are actively targeting humanities graduates as they recognise that the complex challenges facing our businesses and communities require diverse thinking. We need STEAM, not STEM alone. Communications and humanities-trained professionals bring much needed critical thinking and creativity to the workplace,” said Bond.

Nearly three quarters of Australians (75 per cent) believe it is not fair to penalise students who are not suited to STEM courses, while 70 per cent believe all university courses should receive equal funding from the government.

Women are more likely to recognise that these changes are unfair, with four in five (81 per cent) of women responding that it is not fair to penalise students who are not suited to STEM courses.

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