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MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA rejects proposal to cut funding for postgrad degrees

14 Nov 18

CAPA rejects proposal to cut funding for postgrad degrees

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) opposes the Government’s proposal to slash funding for postgraduate coursework degrees.

Over two thirds of domestic postgraduate coursework students already pay full fees. In other words, the Government does not contribute to the cost of their education through a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). The majority of postgraduate coursework students are paying huge amounts of money for their degrees, which are overwhelmingly undertaken as a professional entry requirement or to improve employment prospects. As admitted by the Department in their discussion paper, there is “currently little basis to the allocation of CSPs”.

The Government previously announced that they will gut the number of Government-subsidised places by 3000 – close to five percent of the current allocation. The Department is doing the dirty work of conducting a review to decide which postgraduate courses will fall victim to the cuts.

While in general it is good to examine higher education policy and funding allocations, CAPA is cautious of the outcomes of this review given the large swathes of funding cuts announced to universities over the past year. We believe that policy changes should be made based on evidence, rather than on blindly cutting costs to achieve short-term benefits to the bottom line.

Reducing – rather than increasing – the number of postgraduate CSPs ignores the economic landscape in which students are increasingly having to undertake postgraduate degrees. This is in part due to the rise of the ‘Melbourne model’ in which students undertake a generalist undergraduate degree followed by a professional Masters degree. Our research – conducted jointly with the National Union of Students, University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association, and University of Western Australia Student Guild – found that typical fee costs for popular study combinations under the Melbourne model are between $70,000 and $120,000. Cutting CSPs will mean that more students will be forced into a position of paying extortionate sums for their education.

“Like many other higher education funding cuts over the past year, cutting 3000 student places will have a relatively small impact on the Government’s coffers, but a large harmful impact on affected individuals,” says CAPA National President, Natasha Abrahams.

“We furthermore caution against cuts to enabling courses, which facilitate preparation and entry to university study for those who do not meet the entry requirements. Reducing accessibility to these courses caps opportunity for vulnerable Australians who wish to undertake an education and improve their employment prospects.”

CAPA will be lodging a submission in response to the Department of Education’s discussion paper.

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