MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA calls for income support to include postgrads

CAPA calls for income support to include postgrads

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has today launched the Income Support for Postgrads campaign advocating for study payments to be extended to domestic postgraduate students.

Currently, only undergraduate students are entitled to access full-time study payments such as Austudy and Youth Allowance, subject to means testing. There is no universal entitlement to income support for low-income domestic postgraduate research and coursework students. Research students are unable to access any study payments through the Department of Human Services – even if they have no income – and postgraduate coursework students can only access study payments if their course is deemed to be the minimum or fastest entry-level qualification for their profession.

We are calling on the Government and Opposition to commit to extended income support to all low-income postgraduate coursework students, and to all low-income postgraduate research students who are not in receipt of a living allowance scholarship.

Our research has found that, on average, only 28% of Masters-level courses at public universities are approved for income support. Similarly, only about one-third of commencing postgraduate research students receive direct Commonwealth-funded income support through the competitive Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships.

This is despite the financial distress experienced by postgraduate students, as shown most recently by the 2018 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey. According to their survey, over half of all domestic postgraduate coursework and HDR students are worried about their finances, and one in seven domestic coursework postgraduates regularly go without food and other necessities.

“Extending income support to all postgraduate students would enable more students to complete their studies rather than withdrawing due to financial stress,” says CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams.

“Young Australians are increasingly being shuttled into postgraduate study due to changing economic conditions along with the rise of the ‘Melbourne model’ of education which prescribes a generalist undergraduate degree followed by a specialist postgraduate degree. It is time get serious about postgraduate poverty and allow these students to access study payments.”

Income support discussion paper:

For comment: CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993

Postgraduates seek better income support

Tim Dodd, The Australian

Postgraduate students are calling for more government income support to put them on a par with undergraduates, who have wider access to schemes such as ­Aus­tudy and the Youth Allowance.

In a new paper the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations says that income support for postgraduates is “highly limited” and opening full access would help in “promoting social mobility for low-income Australians”.

Read more:

Download: Income support discussion paper – October 2018
In this discussion paper, The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) argues that income support should be extended to all domestic postgraduate research and coursework students enrolled at Australian public universities.

CAPA’s recommendations are:

❖ Recommendation 1: That income support be expanded to domestic students of all postgraduate coursework degrees, subject to means testing of the student.
❖ Recommendation 2: That income support be established for domestic students of all research degrees who are not receiving an RTP scholarship or another scholarship of an equivalent or higher amount, subject to means testing of the student.
❖ Recommendation 3: That RTP PhD stipends be extended to a minimum of 4 years and Masters by Research stipends to no less than 2 years.

Attachment –Response to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education’s Student Equity 2030 Discussion Paper


Attachment – Submission to Women in STEM Decadal Plan

Overview –

CAPA’s submission focuses on women in STEM in the higher education context, particularly at the postgraduate level and above. We focus on three key issues that deter women from academic careers in STEM:

  • Structural issues that make STEM unappealing to women with family and/or childcare responsibilities;
  • Sexual harassment and sexual assault; and
  • Lack of opportunity and gendered biases in study/employment.

CAPA recommends that—in order to counteract the ‘leaky pipeline’ effect whereby high numbers of postgraduate and ECR women leave STEM disciplines—the following be prioritised by the Women in STEM Decadal Plan:

  1. Support for women postgraduates unable to engage in full-time study;
  2. Parental leave for postgraduates;
  3. Childcare for university employees and postgraduates;
  4. Targeted research funding for women;
  5. A strategy pertaining to sexual harassment and assault;
  6. Combat the culture of overwork in Australian universities;
  7. Combat the gendered insecurity of academic employment; and
  8. Provide better and fairer access to funds, leadership opportunities, and senior positions for women.