Higher Education and Research Reforms will damage Australia’s research capacity

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) warns that the damaging $173.7M cut to Research Training Scheme (RTS) funding and the associated new fee on research degrees included in the Higher Education Research Reforms bill (HERR) have not been dropped, or even mentioned in the Minister for Education and Training’s last last minute attempts to ‘create a clear choice for [the] Senate’.

“It is concerning that the damaging effects of a $173.7M cut to RTS funding and a new fee of up to $3,900 (pa) for Research Masters and Doctorate (PhD) degrees are being ignored by the minister” said the National President Harry Rolf.

Postgraduates studying at Australian universities contributed 57% of the higher education sectors Research and Development (R&D) person years of effort in 2012 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics R&D data. R&D like research infrastructure is a major contributor to innovation, which is tipped to drive economic growth in Australia over the next 50 years, providing a counterbalance to ageing populations, climate change and rising income inequality according to the OECD.

“Cutting RTS funding by $173.7M and introducing a fee of up to $3,900 (pa) for a research degree will damage the capacity of Australia’s universities to train the next generation researchers, and prevent the best and brightest from pursuing a research degree. It will undermine Australia’s research capacity.

“Even Universities Australia is concerned, saying at the recent public hearings held by the Senate Education and Employment committee that the RTS cut will likely undermine Australia’s research capacity. How can the minister continue to spin these reforms as vital when such significant issues persist” concluded Harry Rolf.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations continues to oppose the HERR bill’s reforms, and urges the Senate to look beyond the ministers spin to the issues that persist.

Harry Rolf, National President Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA)