CHANGES to university course fees will disadvantage students and lead to more higher education redundancies, a regional union president says.
The federal parliament last week passed a higher education bill, which was expected to more than double the cost of humanities degrees, and increase the cost of law and commerce courses.
Degrees like nursing and engineering were expected to drop in cost under the changes.
National Tertiary Education Union La Trobe branch president Virginia Mansell Lees said the increased costs to humanities degrees would disadvantage students who came from regional and low-socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as those who entered university later in life.
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"It really just casts university education down in a way that is unnecessary," she said. "This plan is really shortsighted.
"We don't want people to feel like they have been left behind because they can't take up those opportunities."
Ms Mansell Lees said the changes could also have a flow-on effect to the university workforce, which had already been decimated due to rounds of voluntary redundancies.
"With all of the other changes, we still don't know what courses and subjects will be offered," Ms Mansell Lees said. "So out of that, there will probably be more redundancies.
"If you're actually teaching in humanities and then the humanities subjects are cut, then it's harder. We have very few staff members who are in regional campuses that teach humanities."
More than 230 La Trobe staff members have already taken voluntary redundancies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-five of those workers were from the Bendigo campus.
The university announced a second round of voluntary redundancies in August, with that round scheduled to close late next week.
A La Trobe University spokesperson said there were no targets for that round of redundancies.
Ms Mansell Lees said the changes to staff had created frustration at the university.
"There is a lot of anger," she said. "We just seem to be cutting and cutting and we don't know what it will mean for existing staff.
"It's also lined up with a number of changes to work load. A lot of people will end up doing more work than they were already doing, which is not great."
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