National day of action on higher education: CAPA

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is joining forces with the National Union of Students (NUS) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for a National Day of Action on Tuesday 20 August to champion the cause of publicly-funded and properly-funded higher education.

“Higher Education hasn’t been the hot topic in the media or amongst the major parties this election campaign, but it should be,” said Meghan Hopper, President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations.

“As we prepare to launch our Go to the Polls for Postgrads campaign blitz in the final fortnight of the election campaign on campuses across Australia, the National Day of Action is an opportunity for postgraduate students to rally together with their undergraduate and staff comrades and put higher education on the national radar,” Ms Hopper said.

“Postgraduates are rightly concerned about what the future of our education looks like after September 7.”

“We’ve had cuts of $2.3bn to higher education earlier this year from the Labor Government, $0.9bn to research late last year, while the Coalition has committed to more of the same – plus the reversal of the Student Services and Amenities Fee in the event that they take control of the Senate,” Ms Hopper said.

“As we have already seen through data released by Universities Australia, the impact of these cuts is highest on postgraduate students – full fee postgraduate student numbers could drop by up to 30 per cent in the next four years,” said Ms Hopper.

“We’re now in an environment where you need a postgraduate degree to qualify for any number of careers, but only the most wealthy can afford it.”

Jeannie Rea, President of the National Tertiary Education Union, said the Labor Government’s so-called $2.3 billion ‘efficiency dividend’ in April was already leading to staff job losses, course cuts, more crowded classes, and less help for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“This cannot go on. Properly funded universities and properly supported students are essential for a smart future for Australia,” said Ms Rea.

Jade Tyrrell, President of the National Union of Students, said “Students in universities and TAFEs across the country feel sidelined and are devastated by the cuts announced earlier this year.

“Funding for higher education has now become an election issue, and we need our politicians to fight harder and find the funds for a desperately needed increase. Without an injection of more funds, the quality of our education will suffer and we are concerned the solution to make up the shortfall will be more student debt, particularly if the Coalition wins government,” said Ms Tyrrell.

Brisbane: 1pm, Brisbane Square, top of Queen Street Mall.