2003 – The ALP’s ‘Aim Higher’ Policy Package: CAPA’s Analysis

Attachment: CAPA Paper

The ALP’s TAFE and higher education policy package, Aim Higher, was released this morning. Aim Higher is primarily useful to CAPA activists as it makes clear which elements of the government’s Backing Australia’s Future package it is ALP policy to oppose. The news here is good, with the ALP opposing most elements of the federal package of primary concern to CAPA.

Aim Higher also sets out the ALP’s vision for higher education in Australia. As the ALP is in opposition, these elements of the policy package are less useful, except in so far as they lay down the gauntlet to the federal government. In this respect, the package is quite disappointing. The ALP would only return half of the $5 billion stripped from higher education by the Liberals since they came to power. The ALP remains committed to student fees and differential HECS. As a consequence there is no commitment to remove fees from postgraduate coursework. They seem uninterested in the extension of degree granting status to TAFE and private providers. They do not mention income support for higher degree students.

Here, we briefly overview the highlights of the Aim Higher and the areas of Backing Australia’s Future the ALP opposes. A fuller briefing analysing which areas of the Backing Australia’s Future the ALP has ignored (which will help us isolate which areas they may sell out on) will be available within 48 hours.

Attachment: CAPA Submission

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is the national body for Australia’s 139 350 postgraduate students. Postgraduate students fall into two main categories; those undertaking Higher Degrees Research (HDR) and those undertaking postgraduate coursework programs. The later cover all levels of award from graduate certificate to professional doctorate.

Commonwealth Government policies have resulted in negative growth in the number of postgraduate places for Australian students. These policies are out of balance with a likely increase in demand for postgraduate studies flowing from:

  • growth in the number of undergraduate students;
  • projected increased demand for research educated graduates in the emerging knowledge industries such as biotechnology and information and communications technology;
  • growth in the number of areas of work which require postgraduate qualifications for initial entry; and
  • increased demand for high level continuing education in traditional and newly professionalised areas.

The CAPA submission addresses these issues as they affect postgraduate students in research and coursework programs.