The Job Ready Graduate (JRG) bill was passed by the Liberal government in 2020, supported by two Centre Alliance crossbenchers. The government has decided that students should be ‘job ready’ when they graduate and that students should enrol in disciplines where the there’s greater need for skilled graduates, like science and maths-based disciplines, engineering, allied health, and teaching.

Students are directly impacted by the changes to fees for some disciplines, in particular Arts (up to 113%), Law, and Business. Of greatest concern for students commencing from 2022 the legislation will remove Commonwealth Support (HECS) from any student who takes more than 7 years to complete a degree, or with a ‘low completion rate’. That is, after attempting the first eight units, if a student fails 50% or more of their subjects, they will be removed from HECs for that course and must start paying full fees (about $25,000 per semester depending on the course), transfer to another course (if permitted), or drop out.

What is the purpose of university?

Uni is not designed for job training but is a place to teach people how to learn, and to teach people how to critically evaluate what they see and hear in the media, from their friends, and in the broader community. For example, what information should you give more weight to, when your two sources are all the world’s leading scientists saying that climate change is our most immediate crisis, or a guy who cuddles coal.

Who will be most affected?

The impact of the JRG package will affect some students more profoundly than others. This includes students who must work while studying, students with disabilities or caring responsibilities, students who experience physical or mental illness, and students who experience grief and are not able to complete the required administration for special consideration before the requisite deadlines.

Why should you care?

The negative impact of the JRG package is relevant to everyone. The only people who will learn how to learn, or how to critically think, will be those who don’t have to worry about money or illness or misadventure, while studying. This is not a fair or reasonable representation of the broader community, and will also affect who can become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and nurses.

What can you do?

Talk to your friends and family about what the JRG is, and why they should care. Talk about what their world would look like without a diversity of people as doctors, lawyers, teachers, or nurses. Get involved with the SRC’s campaigns in whatever capacity you have. Tell your local MP about how this legislation may affect you, your family or your community, and ask them what they will do to change or remove this legislation to make things fairer for students. Get involved in the next elections. Find a party that will support people regardless of (dis)ability, socioeconomic status, or difficult life circumstances, and ask them how you can help in the next elections. Even two hours putting leaflets in letterboxes, making phone calls, or talking to people, will make a difference. This legislation will not change until there is a change in Government.

If you are experiencing difficulties with your studies, get in touch with a SRC caseworker or call 9660 5222