More Australians are expected to head to universities as youth unemployment rates stay high in the COVID-19-driven economic crisis.
Universities across Australia are looking to save hundreds of millions, including cutting staff and placing hiring freezes on tutors.
The sector says it faces a $16 billion hit over the next three years, more than three-quarters of that in lost international student fees.
But Education Minister Dan Tehan says his focus is getting campuses reopened for domestic students and those international students who made it into the country before travel bans were put in place.
“What I’ve been doing is strongly encouraging them to do everything they can to be open for semester two,” he told reporters in Canberra on June 8.
“We’re working with the sector and with state and territory governments to make sure that … rich experience that students want on campus, they can get that – understanding that large lectures, et cetera, won’t be appropriate in a COVID-19-safe way.”
He’s guaranteed the government will maintain $18 billion in funding for domestic students this year.
And he says the number of Australians wanting a university education is expected to rise in 2021.
“When youth unemployment increases what you tend to see is also an increase in demand for higher education places,” he said.
“The forecasts are that’s likely to increase so we have to make sure the sector can deal with it.”