“Did they just pluck that out of their clacker, mate? There’s no modelling on it. There’s nothing to say that’s going to happen.
“If there’s 100,000 places, where are the 100,000 students coming from if there’s no internationals? I am terribly concerned about that,” she said.
Under the changes students will pay more than double current fees to study an arts degree, but less to study nursing, teaching, mathematics and science.
Commonwealth payments to universities will be cut for some degrees and means universities will be 6 per cent worse off in total government revenue starting next year.
The Greens and crossbencher Rex Patrick are opposed to the changes, meaning the Centre Alliance’s support is critical.
Negotiations are continuing with the government, a spokeswoman for lower house MP Rebekha Sharkie said. Ms Sharkie and Senator Stirling Griff are yet to decide how the minor party will vote.
Students plan to protest the bill at Parliament House on Tuesday, as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg prepares to hand down the federal budget.
Mr Tehan says the moves are designed to prioritise degrees that better prepare students for the jobs most needed by businesses. Critics have accused the government of ideological attacks on the humanities.
“The Job-ready Graduates legislation will provide more university places for Australian students, make it cheaper to study in areas of expected job growth and provide more funding and support to regional students and universities,” he said on Thursday.
“I want to thank the Senate crossbench for their good faith negotiations. I look forward to continuing to work with the crossbench to secure passage of the legislation.”
Mr Tehan promised more than $320 million extra funding for universities as a sweetener this week, which could add up to 12,000 extra places in 2021.
Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the government wanted Australian students to “feel ashamed of their aspiration”.
She told The Australian Financial Review Higher Education Summit in Sydney that universities were under siege.
“We should be democratising our universities, making it possible for anybody who is clever enough and willing to put the work in to get a university education.”
“This is a bill that cuts $1 billion a year from government university funding; a bill that makes university degrees more expensive for Australians; a bill that attempts to price people out of disciplines that the government dislikes.
“This government has called university researchers heroes, but refused to provide an extra dollar to fund their lifesaving work.”