Media releases

CAPA condemns vague and unfair higher education cuts

18 Dec 17

Media release: CAPA condemns vague and unfair higher education cuts

18 December 2017 – The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is concerned about the implications of changes to higher education funding announced in today’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

CAPA is disturbed by the suggestion of a new allocation mechanism which is constrained by what is vaguely referred to as “institutional outcomes and industry needs”. Giving industry too much input into available postgraduate places in different courses is pernicious for two reasons. Firstly, industry needs and economic circumstances are prone to rapid changes. Therefore, any decisions made on the basis of industry demand are at risk of becoming outdated by the time that graduates are produced. Secondly, it demonstrates shortsightedness in regards to the skills and knowledge brought by graduates from fields not traditionally valued by industry. CAPA nervously awaits further detail on this proposal.

CAPA is furthermore saddened that the Federal Government seeks to press on with a lowered repayment threshold for student debt, forcing students to begin repaying their HELP loans upon reaching a yearly income of $45,000 (as opposed to the current threshold of $55,874). This targets some of the most vulnerable university graduates. The money recovered from this proposal will be minimal for the Government, yet makes a large difference to the personal circumstances of low-income graduates. While CAPA has no problem with those in the higher income bracket paying off their HECS sooner at the 10% rate, attacking the lower income earning graduates by lowering the threshold is the wrong move. CAPA has repeatedly condemned the lowered repayment threshold in the past, and hopes that Senators will stand with students to reject this unfair change.

With the freezing of the Commonwealth Support Placements for 2018 and 2019, it is expected that $2.1 billion will be ripped from universities in yet another attempt at toe-cutting. While the cuts are in no way surprising, it is disappointing to see the Federal Government go behind the back of the Senate in this fashion. This freeze also signals the death of the demand-driven system through an administrative decision rather than a discussion about the importance and merits of an educated Australia.

CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire says:
“These cuts are cowardly moves by the Minister who, instead of working with the Senate and sector, has gone behind the backs of all those that support higher education.”

“A new, yet undisclosed, allocation method for postgraduate places is yet another random thought bubble without any clarification as to what these methods will mean for the sector or for the students.”

“We maintain that the changing of the terms of a loan retrospectively is fundamentally wrong and unfair for those that already have a HELP debt.”

END

For comment: CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire
M: 0435 047 817
E: president@capa.edu.au