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What happened in Australia when they went for different fees for different subjects?

  • 26 January 2015
  • By Nick Hillman

Last week, we featured six questions that need to be addressed by those joining the chorus calling for lower tuition fees for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) students in England.

Differential fees by discipline would be novel for the UK, but (as we explained in a 2014 pamphlet) they have existed for a long time in Australia, which has three different fee caps.

Intriguingly, STEM disciplines are not generally found in the cheapest bracket.

So perhaps we should have included a seventh question for anyone backing lower fees for STEM students here. What grounds are there for thinking that unleashing a public debate on differential fee caps would end up with such a different answer to the Australian one?

There may well be valid answers to this question: no two countries are identical. But the precedent is still hard to ignore.

DisciplineMaximum student contribution
1. Humanities, Behavioural Science, Social Studies, Education, Clinical Psychology, Foreign Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, Nursing$6,152
2. Computing, Built Environment, Other Health, Allied Health, Engineering, Surveying, Agriculture, Mathematics, Statistics, Science$8,768
3. Law, Dentistry, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Accounting, Administration, Economics, Commerce$10,266


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