Students at some Australian universities are facing an increasing financial burden, as more and more universities seek to offer courses that cater to an ever-growing population.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its latest financial year data on Sunday, and found that the number of students enrolled in tertiary institutions grew by a staggering 1.1 per cent.
That’s equivalent to 3.2 million more students than were enrolled in the year before.
In total, the ABS counted 3.9 million students in the three major universities.
With the trend expected to continue, the average student cost is set to double over the next two decades.
This is due to increased enrolments in the universities and a more affluent student population.
In 2020, the median student cost was $25,000.
“There is a lot of pressure on tertiary education in the United States, especially in the early years of a person’s career,” University of Queensland professor Andrew MacLean said.
“[But] it’s a small price to pay when you can get an undergraduate degree for less than $60,000 in a good university in a low cost location.
It’s really good value for money.”
He said he expects the trend towards higher tuition fees will continue to be felt by students at Australian universities.
“I think we’ll see the number [of students] going up as the years go by, and we’ll probably see the universities start to take on more debt and more financial burden,” Professor MacLean told the ABC.
Dr MacLean has been studying for his PhD at the University of Auckland, and said the demand for courses that would cater for an ever growing population was growing.
At the same time, universities were struggling to keep up with demand.
Professor MacLean believes the trend will continue for some time to come.
He expects the number to continue to rise and he expects students will be paying more than they have in the past.
And there are more and better choices available than ever before.
“I think it will continue in the coming years as universities start opening up more options, particularly for students who are looking to spend less time in university,” Professor Matt O’Neill from the University and author of the new book on tertiers, Students in Australia: What We Know and Don’t Know, said.
“The demand is increasing in universities, and I think we’re going to see the trend continue for a number of years to come.”
The ABS said the average cost per semester for Australian students in 2020 was $33,857.
University of Canberra student Dr Rachel O’Donoghue said it was hard to see how the average price could go any lower.
“(Tuition fees] are really high, they’re really high.
They are definitely higher than other countries and they are definitely high compared to other countries,” she said.