MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA says ‘Job-ready graduates to power economic recovery must be supported’

CAPA says ‘Job-ready graduates to power economic recovery must be supported’ 

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) welcomes commitment from the government, to produce more ‘job-ready’ graduates, by supporting the delivery of an educated and highly-skilled workforce in areas of teaching, nursing, agriculture, STEM and IT. 

The lack of jobs for recent graduates is a cause for concern, as highlighted by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Allen Finkle in a Rapid Research Information Forum report. “So, it would be encouraging to see students in successful careers, for which they studied”, said CAPA’s National President Romana Begicevic.

“Career opportunities for postgraduate students are going to drive post-pandemic economic recovery, and doing this through greater collaboration with industry partnerships, was a key element in CAPA’s submission to the COVID-19 select committee”, explains Ms Begicevic. 

However, the nature of work and science is constantly changing and we need graduates from all fields of study who can shape this change and respond to it appropriately. “Raising the cost of domestic student contribution rates for Law, Commerce and Humanities units is nothing short of disappointing and CAPA strongly opposes increased financial barriers on studies”, says Ms Begicevic.

Metrics of the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund to reward formal research partnerships with industries and advanced apprenticeships sound interesting, however Ms Begicevic cautions, “the government must appropriately manage and allocate these funds, and to have enough flexibility within the new metrics to recognise the important and necessary diversity of these activities”.  

The silence on sustainable funding for research and research training is concerning, as it indicates it will receive no additional financial support, and may even lose out in real terms. 

CAPA will continue to campaign to the government for a funding boost, to postgraduate research students, whose studies have been impacted by COVID-19 and for an investment into the growing demand for research in Australia across the breadth of human knowledge.  

For comment:
CAPA National President Romana-Rea Begicevic
M: 0420 258 404

Download: Job-Ready Graduates Package Explainer

This explainer is a brief policy explainer of what we know from the National Press Club address 19 June 2020 with Minister Dan Tehan regarding Job-ready Graduates. The biggest change that most the sector is most concerned about is the remodelling of how government subsidies will be provided per discipline band as seen below. We see that certain areas of study deemed ‘areas of national interest’ are having their student contribution lowered and not compensated by an increase in government loan. However, students studying the humanities will experience a substantial increase (+113%) to their student loans due to the withdrawl of government subsidies from their units.

Discipline Bands: Fee change
Agriculture and Maths 62% decrease
Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages 42% decrease
Science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT and engineering 20% decrease
Medicine, dental, veterinary science No change
Law and Commerce 28% Increase
Humanities 113% Increase

Key points:

  • The changes in fees will be based per unit studied and not entire courses.
  • This will only affect students future domestic students (starting 2021) that are awarded a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). There will be no direct impact from this policy change to international students
  • It will not affect current students that finish before 2024
  • If a student enrols in a subject that has a lower rate under the new system, this lower rate will apply, no matter whether the student commenced before or after 1 January 2021.

The long-term ramifications are still unknown i.e. university response to the reform: increasing the tuition fees of degrees, changes to course availability, etc. However, what we know is there will be significant disadvantage and inequality towards humanities students that will have to pay back student loans that will increase by up to +113%.

CAPA welcomes guaranteed loans for NSW Universities

CAPA welcomes the announcement made by the NSW State Government on Saturday 6th June 2020 that it will provide $750 million of guaranteed loans to support the state’s universities to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19. 

The NSW Minister for Skills and Higher Education, the Hon Geoff Lee stated, “Universities play a key role in the economic strength and productivity of our State, supporting jobs and delivering skilled graduates, research and innovation. Healthy universities will be essential for NSW to recover from COVID-19”.

CAPA office bearer Shae Brown had met with Marsha Mannot, Educational Advisor to Minister Lee, on Thursday 4th June 2020, to emphasise the need for action from the NSW Government. Particularly in light of the fact that universities are projecting significant financial losses from semester 2, and to remind Ms Mannot of the important role of postgraduate students in Australia’s economy.

Mx Brown had explained that “Research is at the forefront of the economic recovery for Australia in the wake of COVID-19, providing knowledge capital which feeds productivity and prosperity, and research jobs and funding are under serious threat.”

“Postgraduate students require Government leadership to provide the appropriate conditions for continuation of their valuable research. 56% of paid research and development hours in Australian universities are provided by postgraduate students. This fact requires acknowledgement and support for their role in the generation of valuable knowledge, innovation and technology”, says CAPA President Romana Begicevic. 

CAPA continues to represent and support postgraduate students across Australia and will be seeking to discover the plans and intentions of the other States in the wake of this announcement by the NSW Government.

For comment:
CAPA National President Romana-Rea Begicevic
M: 0420 258 404

CAPA elects new Vice President/General Secretary.
The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has concluded its Special Council Meeting with the election of a new Vice President/General Secretary. 

We are pleased to announce that Errol Phuah will take on the role of Vice President/General Secretary, effective as of the 8th of June 2020. Errol Phuah is a PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology, in the research area of aerosol jet bioprinting. He is the Higher Degree by Research representative on the Swinburne Academic Senate and is the current Policy and Research Advisor at CAPA. 

“I am truly honoured that the council has put their trust in me in this new role, especially with how eventful 2020 has been. Bo has been a fantastic Vice President/General Secretary and a great friend. These are big shoes to fill, but I look forward to continuing CAPA’s great work through the remainder of 2020. I wish Bo all the best as she starts a new chapter in her life.” says Errol Phuah.

CAPA would also like to farewell outgoing Vice President/General Secretary, Bojana Klepac Pogrmilovic, from Victoria University. We wish her all the very best and will miss her dearly, as she embraces a new journey as a Research Fellow in Health Policy at Victoria University. CAPA thanks Bojana for her outstanding contribution to the role.

“Being a part of CAPA was definitely one of the most valuable experiences since coming to Australia. Having an opportunity to represent Australian postgraduate students at the national level was a true honour. I am happy to leave this position in Errol’s capable hands and fully confident Errol will be an excellent Vice President. His passion for CAPA’s advocacy, extensive knowledge and collaborative spirit are what make him not just an exceptional colleague, but also a great friend. CAPA currently has a very strong team of representatives who showed their dedication and excellence in one the most challenging times Australian higher education has experienced. I hope that within my new role I will have an opportunity to continue to work and collaborate with CAPA.”

For comment:
CAPA National President Romana-Rea Begicevic
M: 0420 258 404