Experts are lamenting a 29 per cent cut to funding of environmental studies courses.

Universities are preparing to receive almost AU$10,000 less funding for each student undertaking environmental studies, including biological and earth sciences, as well as management and planning.

Senior members of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors say that expertise in these fields is needed now more than ever.

They point out that environmental studies funding is needed for highly specialised facilities like labs and field centres, while also supporting students in their need for practical and industry experience.

“The funding cuts may also lower the quality of experiences offered to students or require cross-subsidisation,” experts warn in a new article for The Conversation.

“Some universities may also deem environmental studies courses unviable, and close them, while prioritising higher revenue-generating courses.

“The change may also likely to lead to fewer staff, with specialist expertise in areas such as geospatial science, water chemistry and fire management.

“This will lead to smaller teaching teams with less expertise, who will in turn face increased teaching loads and less time for quality research.”

The experts say that recent bushfires and drought show environmental expertise is needed now, and as a changing climate leaves more at risk, that need grows.

Additionally, with the development of COVID-19 linked to land clearing and unregulated human-wildlife interaction, poor environmental management is already having an effect.