The Group of Eight universities have criticised the short consultation period for the government's higher education reforms, saying the legislation will force universities to teach more students with less funding.
Under the Job-ready Graduates Package reforms, future humanities students will face a fee increase of 113 per cent, a move which Education Minister Dan Tehan has claimed would encourage students to select more practical courses.
In its submission to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Group of Eight said the fact that the sector had less than a week to provide feedback on the draft legislation did not support the production of robust legislative outcomes.
"Given the importance of this reform, the Go8 must admit the abbreviated consultation on the legislation appears constructed to effectively disable genuine and desirable collaboration and consultation occurring to assist Government negotiate the complexity of implementing [Job-ready Graduate package] measures," the submission said.
The submission said the changes to the funding clusters would result in a 6 per cent drop in total funding per student in 2021.
The Group of Eight modelling showed by 2024 its universities would be expected to teach an additional 5000 full-time student places with a decrease in base funding of $92 million.
"This will affect the quality of education for domestic students, is at odds with government's supposed post COVID needs, and drafted without full appreciation of the likely consequences."
The Group of Eight submission said the department was unable to provide modelling to explain the government's projections of the package despite formal requests.
It also said removing financial assistance for students who fail more than 50 per cent of their first eight units had not been thought through and could lead to perverse outcomes.
Universities Australia raised a similar concern in its submission, stating that students who fail should not be permanently excluded from the system so as to not harm their future job prospects.
The peak body said the measure would create an additional administrative burden for universities in order to monitor a potentially small cohort of students with a poor academic record.
The Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Psychology and social work students will no longer be aligned with the social science funding cluster after Regional Education Minister Andrew Gee pushed for the disciplines to be moved to the allied health cluster.
The legislation will also be amended to establish a floor for the maximum basic grant amount to guarantee university funding.