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MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA and NATSIPA recommend increased support for research students to boost regional universities’ research outcomes

15 Oct 19

CAPA and NATSIPA recommend increased support for research students to boost regional universities’ research outcomes

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) have recommended increased support for research students in a joint submission to the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) project on Enhancing Research Outcomes from Australia’s Regional, Rural and Remote Universities.

Research outcomes are closely tied to the success of universities in attracting, nurturing, and retaining research students. Postgraduate students have been shown to conduct 57% of all research hours conducted in Australia, not only doing their own projects, but also assisting other academics in the development, testing and analysis of their projects.

“Regional universities are significant financial and social institutions in the areas in which they operate, offering their communities educational, research, economic, cultural and social opportunities which otherwise may not be available within close proximity,” says CAPA/NATSIPA Liaison Officer, Stacey Coates. “However, regional universities can particularly struggle to attract and retain research students to study in these non-metropolitan locations. Additionally, students attending regional universities tend to face more barriers within higher education than their metropolitan counterparts.”

The joint submission highlighted the barriers that are preventing regional universities from improving their research outputs. The recommendations include that all research students should be entitled to a four-year minimum wage stipend, that regional universities create and support a pipeline of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics, and that regional universities provide funding to postgraduate student associations to facilitate community building.

“Only four out of Australia’s eleven regional universities have an independent postgraduate association, one of which receives the least amount of funding per student of any postgraduate association in Australia,” says CAPA National President, Natasha Abrahams. “We know that feeling connected to the university community prevents research students from dropping out, so it is imperative that postgraduate associations are established at regional universities to facilitate these networks.”

The ACOLA project will culminate in a report that is due to be delivered to the Department of Education in February 2020.

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For comment:
CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993
E: president@capa.edu.au