2004 – Senate Inquiry into Life-long Learning

Attachment: CAPA Submission

CAPA, the national peak body representing Australia’s 247,315 postgraduate students, welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Senate’s Inquiry into Lifelong Learning. Postgraduate study is an exceptionally important element of lifelong learning. It provides the opportunity for individuals to retrain should they need or want to change career paths, and the qualifications often necessary for progressing a career. Indeed, postgraduate qualifications are a prerequisite for entry into professions such as psychology and osteopathy. Securing and upgrading academic qualifications can be particularly important for women reentering the workforce after child-rearing. Postgraduate study also provides opportunities for students to extend their knowledge in an area of interest, and to become expert in specialised fields.

Since postgraduate study is often the key to better jobs with better conditions, and provides the opportunity for students to extend their intellectual potential, it is vital that there is equity of access into postgraduate courses and degrees for
students of all ages and socio-economic status. CAPA does not believe that current practices in postgraduate coursework support equity of access. Postgraduate coursework fees have escalated under the current government, after postgraduate coursework was almost totally deregulated when the government came to power in 1996. We believe that these fees inhibit life-long learning by preventing those with limited incomes from gaining the qualifications and training necessary to improve their professional prospects.

In this submission we focus on increased postgraduate coursework fees and inadequacies of the fee-loans system as a barrier to participation in life-long learning