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Friday, 13 November 2020 20:21

Cut to University Funding for Environmental Science – What Consequences for our Future?

It seems good that the cost to students of environmental degrees has been cut but the direct government funding has been cut too. Student costs to take effect from 2021 have been cut from $9,698 to $7,700 per year but the total university income per student will be $24,200 compared to $34,144, a cut of 29%.

Environmental work involves the use of technology (drones, satellites, DNA analysis) as well as field work, all very expensive to provide. No doubt the universities will have to cut the quality of the experience they can provide to students and/or the number of places available. It might be cheaper for students to study, but how ‘job-ready’ will they be? Will the mantra of the government’s university fee changes be achieved that workers will be encouraged into STEM fields?

Australia’s response to climate change already being experienced and planning for the future requires the use of environmental expertise. Even the COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to an increase in human–wildlife interaction following land clearing. New diseases are emerging all the time that have a debilitating effect of people’s health, eg Lyme disease and Ross River virus.

Once again, this government has demonstrated their short-sighted approach to managing our most important asset, a healthy environment.