Media Release: #ValuePostgrads campaign launched at ANU

Media Release: #ValuePostgrads campaign is launched at ANU

Today the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) are launching their national campaign for the year #ValuePostgrads. This campaign aims to bring to Australia the voice of postgraduate students from around the country.

Over the past week CAPA office bearers have been attending postgraduate orientation events to get students to think about what makes them and their work valuable. We are very proud to announce the official Launch at the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association’s event today.

Postgraduate students perform 57% of the research work hours at universities if they are research students and become our future doctors, educators, lawyers, business leaders and much more if they are coursework student. Yet the postgraduate voice is often referred to as the quietest in the sector.

This campaign will be aimed at showing the higher education sector, the Federal Government and the general public that, while postgrads may speak softly they do indeed carry a big stick that holds the sector up. This stick, in the form of our work, is what powers universities research capacity and will lead Australia into the future through its graduates.

Throughout the year we will be encouraging postgraduate students around the country to tell us why what they do is important through a photo campaign. This simple campaign is expected to have far reaching effects across the sector.

“Currently postgraduate students or often denied income support, they can be forgotten in university and government policy decision making, and have to fund their own research or are treated as the new cash cows,” Said CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire.

“The days of postgraduate study being a trial of surviving poverty and deteriorating mental health needs to end. We are the innovators and the leaders of the changing economy and it is time we were given the support we need.”

With already 10 universities participating and over 100 postgraduate students participating  it is clear that postgraduate students can agree on one thing. We are important, we are undervalued and we will not remain quiet.


For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817









Media Release: Cuts to penalty rates will hobble Australia’s future

23 Februrary 2017 – The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is dumbfounded at the decision to reduce the income of Australia’s students by cutting penalty rates. This cut comes at a time when wages in Australia are already stagnant and is another blow to students who are already under financial siege.

Postgraduate students, the very students who become our future doctors, leaders, and researchers, are already often denied income support. Now, even their very ability to earn the income needed to survive is under threat. Research into student finances have already shown that 25% of postgraduate students go without the most basic necessities on a regular basis[1]. Students who cannot financially sustain themselves results in students studying part-time or not undertaking research at all.

Does Australia, in the midst of a so called “innovation agenda”, really want to miss out on the next medical research breakthrough or future business leader because a student had to spend an extra day in a low-paid job and was unable to study? And why is “fair work” focusing on cutting penalty rates when there are already a number of businesses underpaying their casual workforce?

Students are already turning to alternative income such as signing up for “sugar daddies” because they cannot survive on low paid employment[2]. What effect do we think slashing predominantly student incomes will have?

“The Federal Government makes grandiose claims about wanting Australia to become world leaders in innovation seems but hell bent on ensuring that our top students are hobbled at every turn,” said CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire.

“When students are undertaking 30-40hrs of study a week and have to work on top it is essential that they are still able to make ends meet. Cutting penalty rates will lead to increased student poverty, decreases in student mental health and impact on the research capacity of Australia”

Australian students cannot be the innovators they need to be if they are locked out of postgraduate education or if our brightest minds are unable to afford the basic necessities.


For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817


[1] Universities Australia, (2013) “Australian University Student Finances In 2012” Retrieved from


Media Release: Water is wet but research funding is going through a dry spell. For Immediate Release

7 February 2017 – The latest performance review of the Australian Innovation and Science Research System by Innovation and Science Australia1 has indicated that business engagement in research and development needs to be improved. In other news water is wet. What concerns the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is that the review also indicates a steady decline in government expenditure on R&D since 2008 and no increase in Higher Education Research funding relative to GDP since 2012.

The Australian research and development sector punches well above its weight in regards to the generation of new knowledge but there is still room for improvement. For half a decade, we have seen no increase in Higher Education Research funding. Where does the Federal Government think the new ideas that can lead to new innovation come from?

“The one thing we do well, according to this review, is generate new ideas and new knowledge,” said CAPA President Peter Derbyshire. “Yet we are slowly but surely turning off the funding tap. How long can our R&D sector grow new ideas in a funding drought?”

Since the National Innovation and Science Agenda2 was released in 2015 it is widely realised that business needs to do more to invest in research and that industry engagement needs to improve. The review recognizes that one way to improve is for the Federal Government to come to the table and directly fund innovation and science in Australia rather than waiting for business to do it all by themselves.

“It is time that the Federal Government got serious about science and innovation instead of just talking about it and hoping the business sector will save the day. Without government directly investing in the commercialization of research and in idea generation within Higher Education, Australia is going to be left behind,” said Mr Derbyshire


For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817

1 Innovation and Science Australia, (2017) “Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System” Retrieved from Australia/Documents/ISA-system-review/index.html

2 Australian Government, (2015) “National Science and Innovation Agenda” Retrieved from