Australia Needs More Humanities & Social Science Graduates

The History Council of Victoria was shocked to learn that the Morrison government proposes to more than double the cost of a university education for students in History. What is the justification for reducing the Commonwealth Government’s contribution to only $1,100 per student place? Or for the requirement that History students will now pay an annual fee of $14,500?

‘This decision does a disservice to the values embedded in our civic culture and to the requirements of business enterprise and innovation’, says Emeritus Professor Peter McPhee AM, President of the History Council of Victoria, in an article about the importance of a Humanities education.

The proposal displays a complete lack of understanding of the vital importance of History and other disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS). These areas have produced outstanding graduates for many years – including many of Australia’s political leaders.

‘The Minister would do better to encourage students to embrace their academic interests – whatever they are – with verve and enthusiasm’ says Professor McPhee.

Evidence shows that HASS skills — critical and creative thinking, ethics, research skills, ability to construct a logical and coherent argument, as well as skills in written and oral communication — are foundational skills that are highly valued by employers. Evidence also shows that many successful Australian companies rely on ‘skills mixing’, bringing together HASS skills with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

We note too that this proposal severely disadvantages women. There is clear data showing that women make up a high proportion of students studying HASS subjects.

Our campaign is aligned with the work of the other three History Councils in Australia: HC New South Wales, HC South Australia and HC Western Australia. They have endorsed our work while also leading activities in their own states.

This country needs more Humanities and Social Science graduates not less.

The History Council of Victoria urges the Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, to rethink this punitive funding model.

We have sent our request to the Minister. We have also contacted the Shadow Minister for Education and Training (the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP) and the five cross-benchers in the Senate.

We encourage you to call on the Australian Government to rethink its proposal for funding of the study of history in universities:

Centre Alliance
Senator Stirling Griff

Senator Rex Patrick 

Jacqui Lambie Network
Senator Jacqui Lambie 

Pauline Hanson One Nation
Senator Pauline Hanson
Senator Malcolm Roberts 

With your correspondence, you may like to include references to:

Peter McPhee’s article, A Humanities education: what’s the point?

The History Councils’ statement on The Value of History.

Update, 14 August 2020:

Through to 5 pm (AEST) on 17 August 2020, the Australian government invites public consultation on thExposure draft for the Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020. Learn more about the draft legislation. Click HERE to read our submission (lodged 14 August 2020). 



The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

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As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

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Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

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Ways to support us:

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342