The JRG package: fourth time lucky

Job Ready Graduates delivered what the conservatives had failed three times to achieve, Tebeje Molla (Deakin U) and Denise Cuthbert (RMIT) argue in a new paper.

COVID gave the then government cover to “repackage pre-existing policy agendas” – the deregulation of student fees that Christopher Pyne failed twice to legislate in 2014 and the selective increases that Simon Birmingham could not get through the Senate in 2017.

But packaging a restructure of UG fees as necessary to help the economy weather what was pitched as the COVID crisis allowed the then government to  “(re)articulate its pre-existing neoliberal policy agendas of privatising and economising HE,” (authors’ itals).

What changed from 2014 and ’17  to 2020 were new emphases in JRG, “a focus on the employability of graduates, incentives for study in select fields through new fee schedules, and a recasting of equity exclusively in terms of opportunities for regional students and universities.”