The Federal Government plans to radically overhaul the cost of tertiary education in an announcement made by Education Minister Dan Tehan on June 19.
Mr Tehan said the Government plans to slash the per-unit cost of 'job-ready' courses, while increasing the cost of humanities and arts degrees.
However, the Government's overall financial contribution to university degrees will drop from 58% to 52%, while lifting student fees from 42% to 48%.
Yarriambiack Shire councillor and Warracknabeal College school council president Kylie Zanker said country students may now be discouraged from attending university.
"We all know the cost for families in the country to send a child to university is much higher than our metropolitan counterparts," Cr Zanker said.
"As a parent, I can say the fees are taxing, but they are not a burden.
"These extra costs may stop children from considering university as an option.
"More importantly, some qualifications may not be attainable.
"We're going to see some dreams shattered.
"You have a year 12 student work their butt off to get the right ATAR, only to miss out because they can't afford to attend.
"The students have worked so hard already, battling COVID-19."
Zali Williams, a Horsham student studying a diploma of community services at fed uni, said an increase in costs would push many young people away from further education.
"I have invested a fair bit of money and time into completing my studies," she said.
"Sure, my course is free, but if fees were introduced, I would have thought twice about enrolling.
"And it would be too hard to study anywhere else."
Miss Williams said that being able to study in Horsham has encouraged her to stay in the region and look for work locally once she graduates.
The fee changes only affect higher education students, and are yet to be passed through the senate.
My Tehan also announced the Tertiary Access Payment, a one-off payment of $5000 to school-leavers from regional or remote areas to undertake full-time tertiary education.
Longerenong College campus manager John Goldsmith welcomed the announcement.
"Any financial support for students is fantastic," he said.
"This is basically a scholarship.
"This payment is to encourage students not to take a gap year and instead stay in school for another year."
Mr Goldsmith said the college had funded more than $250,000 in scholarships in 2020.
"These scholarships help students who otherwise might not attend college," he said.
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