Proposed legislation does not strengthen citizenship, it weakens the economy.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) condemns the proposed changes to Australian citizenship laws (Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill 2017) and the 457 Visa debacle that is currently plaguing international students.

International students not only provide opportunities for international collaboration in research but are essential for university funding. In New South Wales alone international students now provide more in fees to universities than domestic students provide.

A recent survey of the agencies responsible for the majority on international student recruitment has shown that the changes to citizenship laws and 457 visas could put this recruitment at risk. While there is the availability of the 485 visas these are not enough to provide a clear pathway for residency and citizenship for these students.

International higher education provides an 8.5% boost to Australia’s national GDP and is the largest industry in Victoria and the third largest industry in the country. A move such as this is going to put Australia’s standing as an international educator at risk which will in turn damage Australia’s economy.
By changing the laws to require 4 years of Permanent Residency before citizenship international research students will lose their opportunity to become citizens after completion of their PhD. Meanwhile the changes to the skilled visa list will is making it increasingly difficult for life science researchers to continue their research at Australian institutions.

“International students that attend Australian universities naturally integrate into Australian culture and the law needs to reflect that,” said National President Peter Derbyshire.

“In many cases these are students that are undergoing essential research in Australia including cancer research. Students that are making a real contribution to Australia need to be recognized and, if they wish to stay in Australia to continue their work, the opportunity needs to be available,” said Mr Derbyshire.

CAPA is encouraging Members and Senators to protect Australia’s economy and our future as research leaders by rejecting these proposed changes.

For Comment: 
Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817 E:


CAPA would like to thank and congratulate the Member for Dawson, George Christensen MP, for his principled stand in protection of penalty rates.

“Students across the country rely on penalty rates to make ends meet,” said CAPA President Peter Derbyshire.  “Among postgraduate students, many of whom do not qualify for Austudy due to their courses not being considered eligible by Centrelink, the difference penalty rates make to a student’s ability to get by financially is even more pronounced.  We applaud George Christensen for his courage in crossing the floor to protect students who both need and deserve these penalty rates.”

CAPA reiterates its support for penalty rates and the students earning them, and calls on the Senate cross-benchers to defend them.  We hope that Mr Christensen will continue standing up for students and call on him and his colleagues to oppose the dangerous cuts to higher education when they are voted on in the upcoming weeks.

Today the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is launching our inaugural Jobs after Graduation conference hosted by the Gold Coast Association of Postgraduates (GCAP). Postgraduate leaders from around the country are gathering to discuss the importance of job ready skills and employment after graduation.

This conference will provide skills training to postgraduate leaders so that they can return to their organisations and fill the gaps in transferable skills and industry readiness. The issue of employability for postgraduate students is a focus of the sector but it is essential that student organisations and student leaders are brought along.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and its affiliates will be discussing issues of equity employability, transferable skills training at the postgraduate levels, employment application and interview techniques, and how to engage with industry as a research students.

The reality is that research students are no longer entering academia exclusively and while graduates have the skills, formal training and recognition of these skills is still an area for improvement. The ACOLA review highlighted these issues and while universities are making ground in this area students and student representative bodies need to be partners in the changes to come.

“Postgraduate employability and transferable skills training is a focus for the higher education and CAPA not only recognises this but is actively ensuring that it is being addressed,” said National President Peter Derbyshire.

“Students are aware of the areas that they need to improve and student organisations are best placed to identify this and act quickly to fill in the gaps,” said Mr Derbyshire.

Recordings of our Jobs After Graduation discussions will be made available to all our affiliate organisations.

For Comment
: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817

Attachment: Enquiry into higher education reform 2017

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations is greatly concerned with the 2017 Higher Education Reform Package released as part of the 2017/18 Federal Budget. These concerns have been expressed publicly by CAPA and also by the rest of the Higher Education Sector including unions, Vice-Chancellors, peak bodies and students. Given the extent of negative responses to the reform package CAPA is urging the Senate to reject the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. Below we will outline the specific issues with the legislation presented as well as research that indicates the importance of the Higher Education Sector to the Australian economy.

Attachment: 2030 Strategic Plan Response Final

The services sector is a major part of the Australian economy, with international higher education making significant contributions to our GDP: $21.8 billion per annum and growing (Universities Australia 2017). With strong and stable investment, Australia is poised to become the higher education and research hub in the Asia-Pacific. However, our capacity to offer solutions to current and future social, environmental, economic, and technological problems and changes depends on the provision of long-term, stable research funding; high quality and well-funded education for future generations; and attracting and retaining emerging researchers. Our response to the six Challenges outlined in the 2030 Strategic Plan Issues paper offers a series of recommendations and considerations on this basis.