The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations(CAPA) is not at all surprised that the Higher Education Legislation is on the agenda for the House of Representatives today. It is almost as if the Federal Government wants to introduce this legislation under the cover of confusion created by a current constitutional crisis.
This bill cuts funding for domestic student education, exploits students to compensate for continued budget failures, and retroactively changes the terms of student loans in a way even banks would never dare attempt. It is a bill with few redeeming qualities and has been rejected by the entire sector.
The Minister for Education and Training has done his best to obscure this issue with cherry picked data and massaged figures on university funding. But worse still, is the Minister has stooped to interfering in the collective bargaining process at a number of universities in order to push this bogus bill.
It would seem that the Minister is trying to convince people that universities have not already paid their fair share in budget repair (Universities Australia has already shown that Higher Education has already been hit by $4 billion for budget repair). Further cuts to universities will have detrimental effects to the higher education sector and to students themselves.
The Minister seems to think that universities can afford these cuts with no ill effect, even though there have been countless restructures and thousands of job cuts sector-wide due to lack of funding. The bill would aggravate existing pressures on students and new graduate, who already contend with dropping employability, increasing cost of living, and qualification creep which forces students to study longer to be competitive in the job market.
But while the Minister may be out of touch with the Higher Education Sector CAPA remains confident that the cross-benchers will understand the importance of education, research and universities within their local communities as well as to the young people around Australia. The cross-benchers know the jobs that universities bring to their local community, the importance of supporting students from regional and low-SES backgrounds, and the ability for education to literally change lives. The cross-benchers understand the importance of an accessible and affordable education to all Australian students and will do the right thing, of that CAPA is sure.
CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire says
“Before the minister uses examples like UWA as an organization that can afford funding cuts he should remember the 300 staff that lost their jobs last year”
“This legislation is taking the same path as the failures of the past with nothing but the manipulation of data and threats of cutting funding elsewhere being used to strongarm the cross-bench, and, like the Pyne reforms, the cross-bench will see through this and stop the bill”
“Every time there is a cut to domestic student funding universities are pushed further to attracting international students and using them as cash cows.”
“The benefits of universities are being lost in the discussion, a university not only provides education and research but they also provide jobs to the local communities, jobs that are at risk when funding is slashed as they have been in the past.”
For Comment: CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire
M: 0435 047 817