The global COVID-19 pandemic has placed a heavy burden on our society, and among the most vulnerable groups are self-funded postgraduate research students. Inadequate access to income was already a major contributing factor to poor mental health among students and many now face graduating during a severe economic downturn, and being exposed to poor career outcomes.
We are particularly concerned that the additional burdens from COVID-19 will lead to a surge of research students withdrawing from their degrees. This will have a significant impact on the international reputation of our universities, as research students contribute to 56% of paid hours of research and development (ABS 2018).
Our submission focuses on issues experienced by domestic and international Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students, and how they are currently falling through the cracks when it comes to relief funding.