2005 – Inquiry into the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (2005 Measures No. 4) Bill 2005

Attachment: CAPA Submission

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Senate Inquiry into the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (2005 Measures No. 4) Bill 2005. We value this opportunity for public consultation, and submit the following response on behalf of all students enrolled in Australian postgraduate degrees. CAPA is the national peak body representing Australia’s 257,000 postgraduate students. It has affiliated postgraduate associations in 34 of Australia’s public higher education institutions and in all States and Territories.

CAPA has a number of concerns about allowing a private foreign university to operate in Australia. Specifically, we have provided a detailed response below about our concerns regarding the proposed operation of a campus of the American University – Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Australia:

The awarding of American-only degrees. Whilst most would argue that there is value in an American degree in terms of marketing to overseas students, this is the role of the American Government not the Australian Government. We are concerned that this is effectively devaluing an Australian degree awarded at one of Australia’s numerous quality universities.

The introduction of greater competition for funding among the three universities already operating in South Australia. We are especially concerned about the South Australian Government spending public funding to help set up a foreign private university, particularly at a time when federal funding to the university sector is substantially shrinking.

The idea of ‘elite’ universities existing in Australia. CAPA believe all universities should be properly funded to offer both research and teaching across a broad range of areas. Collaboration between institutions should be properly funded to ensure the major areas of study are offered.

The implementation of voluntary student unionism (VSU) that will possibly encourage enrolment at Carnegie Mellon University in South Australia (CMU (SA)). If CMU (SA) bundles a student services fee with tuition fees studying there may appear attractive to local students and over time, this will take students away from the three publicly funded South Australian universities. As CMU (SA) will be a Table C provider and excluded from such commonwealth funding then CMU (SA) may be able to levy a student services fee. CAPA believes that all students are entitled to the broader
experience a university has to offer through properly funded student services.

In our submission, we address the issues that are most relevant to our postgraduate constituents, as well as providing additional information on areas of particular importance to postgraduate students. We have listed our recommendations to the Senate Inquiry as follows: