THE University of Newcastle has seen applications for semester one next year increase by more than 65 per cent compared to the same time last year.
The tertiary education sector is preparing amid a weak jobs market for an influx of students next year, including those who would otherwise defer their studies to work or travel.
It comes as the government overhauls funding for the sector - federal education minister Dan Tehan has said it will "incentivise students to make more job-relevant choices" and provide an additional 39,000 university places by 2023 and 100,000 by 2030 - and universities start to make the transition back to on-campus classes while juggling a shortfall in revenue due to the absence of international students.
Labor's education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has described the Morrison government's plan to change university studies as a "dog's breakfast".
Mr Tehan announced earlier this month that the cost of certain courses like humanities would double with the intent to steer students towards degrees like maths and teaching but Ms Plibersek believes the only thing the government has done is made it harder for people to get into university and more expensive if they are successful.
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"It's just a dog's breakfast," she told Sky New's Sunday Agenda program.
"The universities are beside themselves, they can't work out why the government 's gone down this path because it is doing the exact opposite of what they've said they want to do."
But UON Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor Mark Hoffman said last week the university had seen a 50 per cent increase in enrolments in its enabling programs for next semester compared with last year.
"We are committed to providing access to university to anyone with the ability and determination to succeed," he said.
"This includes upskilling and reskilling to support the needs of our regions - which is particularly important in the current times."
Professor Hoffman said UON consulted regularly with industry to ensure its programs and places focused on "expected industry and community needs".
He said UON would welcome "the ability to move funding to programs which suit our regions, including continuing education and micro-credentials".
He is expected to tell staff this week how UON will achieve the savings.