Government plans to more than double the cost of humanities degrees are “baffling”, according to a former prime minister.
Malcolm Turnbull says he doesn’t understand the rationale for the proposal, which was flagged by the Morrison government last week.
“I think it is baffling … I find the changes very puzzling,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.
The plan also includes increasing fees for law and commerce degrees while charges for 17 others would be cut by more than half.
Degrees that would be cheaper include teaching, nursing and agriculture.
The proposal has been broadly condemned but the government is confident it can convince the Senate to agree to the funding changes in the name of better equipping young Australians for jobs.
Mr Turnbull says he agrees with one aspect of the plan – increasing the cost of a law degree.
“The only aspect to this that I have got a little sympathy with is trying to discourage people from doing law unless they really want to practise law.”
Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt says that under the new funding proposal, the total money for maths and science will fall from current levels.
He also doesn’t think students will care about price rises because of the HECS loans scheme.
“Overall, we believe ANU will receive slightly total more funds for teaching than we have in the past,” he said.