Download: Prebudget Submission 2021-2022
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly had a significant impact on the Australian Higher Education sector. Many tertiary providers in lieu embraced blended learning models, discontinued courses, and announced unprecedented staffing cuts, many tertiary providers’ unstable financial status.
These practices have allowed universities to survive into 2021, but students have been burdened with the negative repercussions. Although we are well-aware of the additional funding provided for through the Research Support Program (RSP),1 it is crucial that supplementary resources are allocated to combat the diverse issues affecting postgraduate students. Mental health and financial hardship are two issues which will continue to impact postgraduate students throughout 2021. As such, we implore the Morrison Government to consider the following recommendations to support Australia’s future professional workforce.
- Extend income support to all domestic postgraduate students.
- Provide universities additional guidance and assistance to support research students enrolled from 1st March 2020 onward by:
- ensuring universities the additional 1 billion to RSP funds is prioritised to support COVID-19 stipend extensions for HDR students affected by the pandemic.
- Provide ongoing additional RSP funding beyond 2021 to ensure pandemic affected students graduating in later years are also supported with stipend extensions towards the end of their degree.
- Continue Abstudy payments amounts in line with the fortnightly payment
- Provide private companies accepting interns through the NPILF with tax deductions related to the training they provide students.
- Ensure that students are financially compensated for their labour.
- Fund University initiated mental health programs and training.
- Ensure that universities employ culturally competent staff for their health and counselling services.
- Acknowledge that no one can be ‘culturally competent’ in all fields and that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not be appropriate in adopting these policies.
- Delegate oversight to external government bodies, such as the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency or Australian Skills Quality Authority.
- Acknowledge the difficulties faced by many women seeking to balance their domestic responsibilities with their careers.
- Prioritise support systems for women in STEM by creating scholarship programs and subsidised childcare programs on campuses.