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MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA calls for income support to include postgrads

17 Oct 18

CAPA calls for income support to include postgrads

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has today launched the Income Support for Postgrads campaign advocating for study payments to be extended to domestic postgraduate students.

Currently, only undergraduate students are entitled to access full-time study payments such as Austudy and Youth Allowance, subject to means testing. There is no universal entitlement to income support for low-income domestic postgraduate research and coursework students. Research students are unable to access any study payments through the Department of Human Services – even if they have no income – and postgraduate coursework students can only access study payments if their course is deemed to be the minimum or fastest entry-level qualification for their profession.

We are calling on the Government and Opposition to commit to extended income support to all low-income postgraduate coursework students, and to all low-income postgraduate research students who are not in receipt of a living allowance scholarship.

Our research has found that, on average, only 28% of Masters-level courses at public universities are approved for income support. Similarly, only about one-third of commencing postgraduate research students receive direct Commonwealth-funded income support through the competitive Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships.

This is despite the financial distress experienced by postgraduate students, as shown most recently by the 2018 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey. According to their survey, over half of all domestic postgraduate coursework and HDR students are worried about their finances, and one in seven domestic coursework postgraduates regularly go without food and other necessities.

“Extending income support to all postgraduate students would enable more students to complete their studies rather than withdrawing due to financial stress,” says CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams.

“Young Australians are increasingly being shuttled into postgraduate study due to changing economic conditions along with the rise of the ‘Melbourne model’ of education which prescribes a generalist undergraduate degree followed by a specialist postgraduate degree. It is time get serious about postgraduate poverty and allow these students to access study payments.”

Income support discussion paper:

For comment: CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993