THE cost of agriculture-related courses will be more than halved next year, as the government tries to encourage more students into the sector.
The federal government has announced changes to university fees, in an attempt to funnel students into specific degrees.
Some degrees, such as arts, will cost up to double, while other subjects such as mathematics, teaching, science and nursing will see significant price drops.
Ag degrees will be slashed by 62 per cent.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the move reinforced the importance of the ag sector to the economy and allowed the government to pursue its goal of making Australia the world number one in agriculture research and development.
"We have the brightest agricultural minds in Australia and the best farmers in the world," Mr Littleproud said.
"The Australian agriculture industry is changing, including the adoption of technology, advanced equipment and new farming techniques, and the emergence of internationally competitive industry and business structures.
"The workforce and skill needs of the industry are changing too and today's announcement means that it will be more accessible for people to upskill for the breadth of agriculture, agri-business and and ag-tech jobs available today and in the future."
The University of New England (UNE) has more than 900 students enrolled in its 12 agriculture-related degrees and vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood expects that to increase with course fees dropping.
"UNE certainly welcomes the reform making an agriculture degree more affordable," Prof Heywood said.
"It's good for UNE, good for school leavers who are interested in studying agriculture and related subjects, it is good for connections with industry and business, and therefore good for the region."
Almost half of UNE's students come from regional backgrounds and Prof Heywood said the changes would give more rural school leavers the chance to get a university degree.
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson called the decision a "commonsense announcement".
"We do think it is really going to drive regional development and the growth of Australia going forward, and we badly need good people to drive that growth," Ms Simson said.
"I'm confident that we'll see a flood of students back to some of those disciplines. Our aim is to double the number of ag graduates by 2030.
"This lessening of course fees of about 62 per cent is really going to go a long way to making sure we can keep bringing the best and brightest into agriculture."
The story Agriculture university degree fees reduced by 62 per cent first appeared on Farm Online.