2002 – CAPA White paper on International Students

Attachment: CAPA Paper

In the last 10 years, Federal Government funding to Australian Universities has been steadily decreasing. Concurrently, income from private sources has dramatically increased. Funding from fee-paying students has increased from 5 percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 1999 (AVCC, 2001) (Figure 1). As recently outlined by the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, in his Overview Paper, Higher Education at the Crossroads:

“From the mid-1980s the Commonwealth encouraged Universities to find funds from other sources in order to ensure that the system, could continue to expand. Over the decade, income from fees and charges doubled mainly due to the conscious effort of Universities to attract more overseas students. The number of overseas students tripled. By 1999 revenue from fee-paying overseas students amounted to $805 million or approximately 10 percent of the sector revenue” (Nelson, 2002: 53).

Education is the tenth major export industry in Australia. International students bring not only income but also multicultural and cosmopolitan influences into our country. The education market is harsh and competition always on the increase. International students are, importantly, considered ‘Australian Residents for taxation purposes’, and pay all taxes, both income tax (if they earn a salary or wage) and Goods and Services Tax, applicable to all other Australian citizens. Unfortunately, this obligation has not proven sufficient to entitle them to equitable access to many benefits that are financed with those taxes.

International students are squeezed dry inconsiderately and the government can afford to ignore their claims for equitable treatment. In contrast to other global competitors, Australia is withdrawing the benefits that International students used to have, and worsening economic pressure under which they live.

We believe that a major change is required. If Australia wants to lead the global education market of the future, CAPA recommends that the Federal Government give serious consideration to our proposed policies. The following pages provide the argument behind our proposals.

Attachment: CAPA Submission

Attachment: CAPA Submission

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Government’s proposed framework for establishing national research priorities. We applaud Minister McGauran’s decision to incorporate public consultation into the priority setting process. We submit the following response to the Minister’s issues paper, Developing National Research Priorities, on behalf of all students enrolled in Australian postgraduate degrees.

CAPA is the national peak body representing Australia’s 155,312 postgraduate students. It has affiliated postgraduate associations in 34 of Australia’s public higher education institutions and in all States and Territories. Australian postgraduate students fall into two broad categories: postgraduate coursework students who number 116,913 and postgraduate research students who number 38,499.

The research undertaken by doctoral and research masters candidates, as well as the research carried out by many postgraduate coursework students for the thesis component of their degrees, is a vital part of the Australian research effort. In 1984, Margaret Powles estimated that postgraduate students contributed 35-50 per cent of universities’ research and between 10.8-15.5 per cent of Australia’s total research effort. More recently, Siddle has argued that a more accurate figure is 65-70 per cent of university research.

CAPA accepts the need to set national research priorities in order to better coordinate Australian research. However, we are concerned that without additional research funding the priority setting process becomes a zero-sum allocation: targeted funding for research priorities must be diverted from other research. We have already seen Australia’s research capacity undermined by the implementation of the Research Training Scheme in 2001, which reduced the total number of postgraduate research places from 24,980 in 2000 to 21,644 in 2001 (EFTSU).

We cannot afford to let Australian research be weakened any further. CAPA is also concerned by the Government’s decision in January this year to target 33 per cent of the 2003 Australian Research Council (ARC) funding round to four scientific research areas, thus pre-empting public consultation on appropriate research priorities. We find the priority setting process outlined in Developing National Research Priorities, with its emphasis on public consultation and broad thematic research priority areas, to be highly preferable.

The following submission contains CAPA’s suggestions for further improving the priority setting process.