People not profits

New university budget cuts are leaving students worried about the quality of education and the impact on employability in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The library’s facelift is underway. Photo: Neelam Dajee.

Curtin Student Guild president Hana Arai says in addition to the pandemic, there are multiple other obstacles.

“Decreased funding, government attacks to higher education, Curtin University recently deciding to cut 300 staff,” she says.

Ms Arai says universities should be focusing on wellbeing, mental health and international student aid instead of new construction projects.

Guild president Hana Arai. Video: Neelam Dajee.

Curtin economics professor Michael Dockery says there is no need to be overly pessimistic about the outcome of the virus on job prospects.

The monthly labour figures released this morning, show unemployment peaked in July at 7.5 per cent and has since decreased to 6.8 per cent in August.

Professor Dockery says: “It is always difficult for new entrants to the labour market. There are going to be some sectors that are going to be hit but I wouldn’t be getting too despaired or losing hope.”

Michael Dockery. Photo: Supplied.

He says although the popular opinion is that job security lies within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), evidence shows employment in humanities, arts, teaching and health care are growing strongly.

Student reaction to graduation anxiety. Video: Neelam Dajee.

“Our demand for material things falls and what becomes more important is human services. That is what grows as economies mature,” he says.

“It will surprise the government who said we want people to stop doing humanities and get real jobs, that the evidence is that the demand in humanities has been growing strongly.

“You don’t need a lot of people once you have an innovation, often they save on labour. So a lot of the IT developments now [such as] artificial intelligence will replace IT people, they are not going to replace human services.” Assoc Prof Dockery says.