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New Policy in Victoria: Pursuing a Secondary School Teaching Degree to Be Cost-Free

The Andrews Labor Government will offer scholarships to cover the cost of studying and living for all students who enrol in secondary school teaching degrees in 2024 and 2025.

As part of a $229.8 million package to assist the school workforce, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins have made the announcement together during their visit to Saltwater P-9 College in Point Cook today.

Mr. Andrews believes that this new funding will encourage more people to become teachers and help solve the state’s teacher shortage issues, especially for Victoria as the education state.

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“Teachers change lives—it’s as simple as that. This will mean one less barrier for Victorians thinking of a career in teaching and more great teachers for the education state,” said Mr. Andrews.

Although the scholarships are open to anyone who enrols in a secondary school teaching degree, they need to work for government secondary schools for at least two years after graduation to take up the final payments.

A $93.2 million investment package to cover the cost of studying and living for the scholarship students is expected to contribute 4,000 new teachers each year to the Victorian education sector.

The total scholarship funding for students will be able to match the fees charged by the Australian government for commonwealth-supported places, which are $18,000 for a four-year undergraduate program or $9,000 for two years of postgraduate study.

Other parts of the support package also include $27 million to continue an incentives program of up to $50,000 to teachers from Victoria, interstate and overseas who are willing to take up rural, remote or otherwise hard-to-staff positions in government schools.

There is also $95.7 million to expand a teacher retention program that helps develop graduate teachers in government schools with extra preparation time, mentoring and other professional support.

The funding announcement was not part of the state’s May budget, which has already allocated $204.8 million in workforce initiatives and $779 million to reduce the maximum face-to-face teaching time for the teachers, taking the Labor Government’s total investment in the school workforce to more than $1.6 billion since 2019.

Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins believes that the Andrews Labor government has already supported the state with more teachers.

“The number of teachers in Victoria is increasing, and that’s no accident—we’re delivering a range of initiatives that have helped grow the number of registered teachers in Victoria by nearly 5,000 between 2020 and 2022,” said Ms. Hutchins.

The Andrews Labor government made a similar program to the nursing sector early this year, called the Free Nursing Initiative, to boost the state’s supply of healthcare workers.

Under the new initiative, students undertaking an undergraduate degree in nursing and midwifery will study for free, provided that they join a public health service sector upon completion and stay for at least two years.

In the meantime, former nurses and midwives will be able to update their qualifications for free to re-enter the workforce, while currently enrolled nurses are able to become registered nurses for free as well.

The scholarships come as the state budget forecasted that its debt will jump to $171.4 billion in the next four years.

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