Postgrads hit hardest by tax cap: CAPA

Data released today by Universities Australia has confirmed that postgraduate students will be hardest hit by a cap on tax-deductable education expenses, with full fee student numbers likely to drop by up to 30 per cent in four years, says the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations.

“The cap on tax-deductible education-related expenses has been largely lauded by the Government as only disadvantaging wealthy students attempting to rort the system, when in fact we have suspected from the start, and data from Universities Australia today confirms, that postgraduates will be the hardest hit,” Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations President (CAPA) Meghan Hopper said.

Ms Hopper said the data released by Universities Australia today illustrated that the effective cost of enrolling in full-fee postgraduate education would increase by at least 30 per cent, and as much as 54 per cent – figures that she said were alarming to the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and the students they represent. “This adds to the impact of the 2012 Mid-Year Budget Review, where income support for postgraduate coursework students, long promised by the Government, was pushed back by a further three years,” Ms Hopper said. “We need to shift this perception that postgraduate coursework students are somehow more wealthy than undergraduate students and therefore able to afford an endless litany of extra costs,” she said.

Ms Hopper said in many fields of work a postgraduate qualification was becoming a requirement. “With some institutions moving to models that require postgraduate study in order to gain a qualification such as law, we are seeing more and more students undertaking postgraduate coursework studies,” she said. “Capping tax-deductible education expenses and continuing to push out the availability of income support for postgraduate coursework students makes postgraduate study something that is accessible only to the privileged few – it is an enormous equity concern, one that the Labor Government should address,” she said.