2005 – National Strategic Principles for Higher Education

Attachment: CAPA Submission

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations is pleased to respond to DEST regarding the development of a set of National Strategic Principles for Higher Education to inform the Australian Government on decisions and investment in higher education provision.

DEST states this paper is an elaboration of the policy framework in “Our Universities – Backing Australia’s Future” (BAF) of which the four key themes of sustainability, quality, equity and diversity have long been CAPA’s own vision for higher education. However, CAPA differs from DEST in that our underlying principles are based on appropriate public funding of universities to achieve these aims and not the principle of ‘user pays’ that is at the heart of the Government’s BAF funding package. Our view has always been that not only the individual student benefits from their university education, but that the community as a whole benefits by:

1. the contribution graduates make to society through the flow-on effects of building
knowledge, and

2. available public funding through the higher taxation contribution made by
graduates because of higher salaries.

DEST mentions in this paper the lack of consistency in the implementation of the National Protocols across Australia. However, we are concerned that the short turnaround time expected of universities to implement changes is unrealistic as we have mentioned in our submission on “Building Better Foundations for Higher Education in Australia: A discussion about re-aligning Commonwealth-State responsibilities (BBF)”. With the review phase of the National Protocols underway and without any final outcome for this review foreseeable in the near future, we believe that this current paper on the National Strategic Principles is untimely. However, CAPA does believe many of the National Strategic Principles, as briefly outlined in the discussion paper, are of merit.

Importantly, CAPA has a major concern about how the introduction of voluntary student unionism (VSU) may impact negatively on many of the initiatives proposed. We have provided responses to National Strategic Principles for Higher Education paper in order of the listed National Strategic Principles detailed…