This week the government made an announcement about a review of university tuition fees from 2021. The plan is to steer more young university entrants into the STEM fields.
The premise is that Australia needs more professionals educated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), and indeed, we do. Study in these disciplines teaches us to be innovative problem-solvers, and helps us in our quest to live more healthy, sustainable, efficient lives. It embraces creativity and originality, and invites us to think intelligently about our futures.
However, the substantial increase in university tuition fees for arts subjects is disappointing. The purpose of increasing fees in this area is to deter students from participating in studying religion, philosophy, literature, art, music, history, theatre. The arts teach us to be tolerant and to develop an ethical perspective on contemporary thinking and practices. They teach us to be critically literate: to perceive ‘fake news’, to promote robust discussion on futures and policies.
There seems to be an implication that students of the arts are not ‘job ready’, however many very successful adults are graduates of arts programs.
Therefore, we are surely in a much better position as a nation and a society when we have a variety of thinkers in our community. I propose that we do not privilege one strand of thinking over another, but that we embrace both, and encourage our children to participate in both, according to their skill and interest.