Posted by: Janek | October 16, 2012

CAPA Governance Documents

Following the CAPA Special Council Meeting on May 2, 2012, a number of changes were made to the Constitution and Regulations.  The current versions of both documents, as well as the current Policy document, are attached:

2012 Constitution

2012 Regulations (link fixed)

2012 Policy

Posted by: meghanbh | October 4, 2012

Hello from the new President!

Hello!  All of our affiliates would have heard by now that CAPA recently conducted a by-election to appoint a new President and National Secretary.  The role of National Secretary has been filled by former Secretary and 2011 President, John Nowakowski, who brings with him a wealth of relevant experience as we prepare for the end-of-year Annual Council Meeting (ACM); while the role of President will be filled by me – Meghan Hopper.

Previous to this, I was Policy and Research Advisor of CAPA throughout earlier 2012, as well as Acting President in June; and in 2011 I was Vice President (Equity) and Women’s Officer.  I also sit on the Monash Postgraduate Association as their Women’s Officer, and have previously been President of the Monash Uni Gippsland Student Union (2010) and a student representative to Monash Academic Board (2011).  So I already have a background in higher ed advocacy and in working with postgraduates, particularly on matters of policy, and am very much looking forward to continuing to do so in this new role.

We’ve just got off our monthly Executive meeting, and I wanted to give affiliates a quick update on finances.  At today’s meeting we were delighted to approve discounted affiliations from Griffith University Postgraduate Students’ Association (QLD) and Swinburne University Union (VIC), which we will be invoicing this week.  These are both associations that have been actively involved in CAPA, but have struggled to pay affiliation in previous years due to circumstances at their respective campuses, and so it’s great to see them able to commit this year.

We also approved at the Executive Meeting to cut the President’s salary by half for the remainder of the year.  This was a decision made by me prior to nominating for the role – cutting the President’s salary puts CAPA’s honorarium structure more in line with other peak bodies in student representation, and means that we have extra money to spend on representing postgrads nationally.  While other Executive members were offered the option of turning the resultant extra money into honorariums for their roles – a model which I supported – they declined, and have instead requested that that money go into our general budget, and that part of it assist them to attend our ACM.  I think this is further evidence, if any were required, of the dedication and selflessness of the CAPA Executive members our affiliates have elected.

We’re looking forward to seeing all of you at our ACM, which will be taking place this year November 26-28 at the University of Melbourne.  Further details around suggested accommodation and how to make changes to the Constitution, Regulations and Policy will be forwarded to affiliates over the next week.  We’ve set up a committee of Exec members to plan the ACM and are looking forward to getting the ball rolling with our first meeting on Tuesday morning.

That’s all from me for today – looking forward to chatting with you all soon,

Meghan x

Posted by: Chamonix | April 11, 2012

SSAF Update

Dear Affiliates

I have some updates to share on what CAPA has been doing in regards to SSAF, and what the survey outcomes showed.

You may recall that we ran the SSAF survey during February. Of CAPA’s 26 active affiliates, 17 completed the survey (thank you to those!).

The survey outcomes informed us that:

  • Only 42% of affiliates surveyed were directly involved as elected postgraduate representatives in their SSAF negotiations with their universities. This is against what the SSAF guidelines state (SSAF negotiations should include undergrad, postgrad and international student reps).
  • 71% of these universities will charge the SSAF fee in semester one 2012.
  • 76% of these universities are charging the full amount, 3 are still deciding how much they will charge and only one is charging 75% of the maximum allowed.
  • 59% of affiliates indicated they will have more funding in their association as a result of SSAF funding they will receive, 29% was still unsure of how much they will get, 6% will receive no SSAF funding and another 6% will have no change to their existing operations post SSAF.

It seems that many universities are just ‘ticking the box’ to comply with legislation so they can charge the SSAF fee. Most are not negotiating with (postgrad) students in good faith. They ‘meet’ with students to consult, and then do not take any of those student suggestions on board.

We are also concerned about two incidents where we have learned that universities would not provide the postgrad student representative associations any of the SSAF funding if they were to use some of it towards academic advocacy services. We believe that it is a student’s basic right to have access to academic advocacy services and to withhold the funding for this reason is unacceptable. It is against the SSAF guidelines for a university to provide their own advocacy services as these should be independently run from the university.

At the Universities Australia conference I met with Min Chris Evans’ advisor to discuss the above concerns. I told her that we were concerned about the loopholes in the SSAF guidelines that universities are using to get around the issues mentioned above (e.g. what the definition of consultation and negotiation may mean for different parties) after which she replied that the NUS signed off on these guidelines last year and that they cannot be changed at this point in time unfortunately. I am meeting with her again today and will push towards a revision of these guidelines for subsequent SSAF negotiations. The best advice we can provide affiliates at this stage, is to try to nurture good relationships with your respective universities so they are open to negotiating with you in good faith. We recognise that this may not be possible at all campuses, and CAPA will continue to work with those affiliates whose situations are more complex or any other affiliates who request our help/ advice.

I have also established communication with the Shadow Minister (Senator Brett Mason) for Universities and Research and am in the process of setting up regular meetings with him and his advisor to discuss what the opposition may have in store for postgraduates if they were to gain control of the government and to lobby them in advance on all issues postgraduate. This is part of my long term strategic view for CAPA to ensure we stay one step ahead of policy changes and to influence these before they are more concrete. I have also established regular meetings with Min Evans’ advisor for the same purpose.

In the meantime CAPA will continue to lobby the government for more concise SSAF guidelines and better outcomes for postgraduates in general.

Kindly keep us updated should any of your SSAF situations at your campuses change.

Warm regards,

Chamonix Terblanche
National President

Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations
Mobile: 0404 696 306

Posted by: Chamonix | January 30, 2012

Mature aged students ‘forgotten’ – Campus Review

Published on Campus Review January 23, 2012, by Susan Woodward

The outgoing chief executive of Universities Australia is appealing for a national policy that would help boost enrolments of mature-age students. Dr Glenn Withers says a participation target should be implemented for 35 to 65 year olds in much the same way it has been for 25 to 34 year olds in the Bradley review.

“The need for increased enrolments at the mature-age level hasn’t been fully factored into governments’ plans and incentive systems,” Withers told Campus Review.

He said the failure was indicative of wider systemic problems, due in part to the overlapping responsibilities of state and federal governments. “There are a lot of potential conflicts here that for all the goodwill shown in setting ambitious targets for increased participation, increased funding and support, haven’t been pulled together adequately,” he said.

Mature-age students were falling into the gap, with no one taking responsibility for a cohort that could be key to Australia’s apparent looming productivity crisis. Withers said research and analysis were desperately needed to uncover how mature-age students – and possibly other forgotten cohorts – were fairing, and if they required incentives to seek education.

“What you’ve got is governments running around setting targets that sound reasonable at the time without knowing what they add up to,” he said. “You’re putting a lot of investment into things that won’t emerge for many years, and you want to know those investments are well directed. We say we’ve got a patchwork economy; we may have a patchwork tertiary system, too, if we’re not careful,” he said.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) welcomed the idea of a national enrolment target for mature-age students. However, CAPA president Chamonix Terblanche said other factors must be considered simultaneously, especially the casualisation of the academic workforce.

“These are students that, for the most part, have returned to university after gaining diverse experiences, and often significant incomes, in their work and private life,” said Terblanche. “The expense of returning to study for these students and the uncertainty of academic employment in an increasingly casualised environment cannot be underestimated as having an impact on their student experience and on retention rates.”

Withers agreed, saying the government’s related Research Workforce Strategy had not gone far enough because it lacked funding for implementation. “[The strategy’s] not nonsense, but it’s on stilts,” he said.

He linked the value of an older cohort to a future, knowledge-based economy.

“The objective should be to ensure that overall, we are commensurate with world best practice,” he said. “For example, countries such as Canada, Israel, Finland and Korea currently have significantly superior achievement of higher education qualifications across the whole 25- to 64-year-old population. We will need this, too, as our mining benefit diminishes. So we should be prepared, by taking the boom proceeds and investing in our people.”

Terblanche said data in an upcoming CAPA report would reveal that higher degree by research (HDR) enrolments amongst mature-age students were rising.

“Our findings have confirmed that mature-age students have distinct expectations from their HDR experience and that they view themselves as a distinct cohort with needs specific to their age group and level of experience,” she said. “The report will highlight the concerns of mature-age students, which include being undervalued, underfunded, and excluded from student life.”

With the passage of the Student Services and Amenities Bill late last year, she called on universities to consult with their postgraduate associations on how best to address the students’ needs.

Posted by: Janek | January 4, 2012

Governance Documents Available

The 2012 Constitution and Regulation documents are now available for reference, along with the 2012 Goals for CAPA.  The policy document is on its way, it’s just a little trickier to prepare.



Goals for CAPA in 2012

Posted by: Janek | January 1, 2012

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

With the recent change to the demand driven funding model and the release of the Lomax-Smith Base Funding Review, CAPA sees the opportunity for the government to redress the inequitable allocation of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) nationally. CAPA has developed the following principles around the support of and funding for CSPs nationally:
• Access to higher education in Australia is an inalienable right.
• A high level of participation in higher education is of both public and private benefit. Such benefits may include but are not restricted to better health outcomes, higher income levels, higher levels of interpersonal trust, and higher productivity levels across society.
• Base public funding should at least match private contributions to higher education.
• Every postgraduate course of study should include some publicly-funded places.
• The cost of postgraduate education should reflect the real cost of course delivery. The higher capacity to earn in some fields should be addressed through a taxation system rather than through higher course fees.
• When setting fees, the capacity to pay should be balanced against the societal and individual consequences of carriage of debt after graduation.
• Direct fees are not the only cost of higher education incurred by graduate students. Private contributions may include but are not restricted to foregone income, personal research expenses, and childcare costs.

Recommendation 1: That at least 50% of all postgraduate coursework places be offered as Commonwealth Supported Places, with all courses containing at least some Commonwealth Supported Places.
Recommendation 2: That every course include some Commonwealth Supported Places, which are offered on the basis on means testing as well as merit.
Recommendation 3: That all courses demarcated “Masters (Extended)”, and all postgraduate courses accredited at level 8 in the AQF, be substantially funded through Commonwealth Supported Places.
Recommendation 4: That postgraduate Commonwealth Supported Places be funded to a higher level than undergraduate Commonwealth Supported Places to reflect the true cost for operation.

The Allocation and Funding of Postgraduate CSPs

CAPA has today released its submission for the Government’s Defining Quality for Research Training in Australia

Research education in Australia is critical not only to provide us with future generations of researchers and academic staff, but also in currently providing between 40 and 60% of the nation’s research output (NTEU, 2008).   During a period in which the current Government has demonstrated a commitment to reviewing higher education more broadly, a focused review of best practice in research education is timely and appropriate.  CAPA has, for over 30 years, campaigned for improvements to the quality of the research education environment, and provides this submission, in conjunction with our work on the review panel, to aid in defining and measuring quality at a Higher Degree by Research level.

The provision of adequate resources for research training, particularly through policy, physical resources, and funding, in conjunction with a standard for supervision, allows for candidates to high-quality research in a rich and positive manner.

The core of this submission reinforces many of the recommendations put forward by Nigel Palmer in the CAPA submission to the Research Workforce Strategy (Meeting Australia’s Research Workforce Needs – Consultation Paper Response, 2010)

CAPA Submission on Defining Quality for Research Training in Australia

Posted by: Janek | December 12, 2011

CAPA welcomes re-unification of Tertiary Education

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) was impressed with the re-unification of tertiary education in today’s re-organisation of the Gillard Ministry.  “Over the past four years, tertiary education has reported under to two ministers at separate departments.  This has made it challenging to effectively communicate on some issues,” commented National President John Nowakowski.  “By bringing the department back together, it will provide for easier oversight of the sector for all levels of university education and reduce double-handling.  This is particularly critical with the dual role of teaching and learning and research within the sector.”

CAPA was saddened, however, by the loss of Innovation Minister Kim Carr from representation of postgraduate research students.  “Senator Carr has been a stalwart supporter of the development and improvement of higher degrees by research and research training in Australia since 2007.  Particularly of note was his commitment to improving funding, especially following the Cutler Review in 2008.  His approach to improving quality and standards for universities has been significant, and CAPA wishes him well as he moves to new challenges,” said John Nowakowski.

Under the new arrangement, all of tertiary education will report to Minster Chris Evans.  Tertiary education was previously administered as a single unit under the Department of Education, Science, and Training.

Posted by: Janek | December 10, 2011

CAPA Submissions

There has been a little trouble of late with the CAPA website, and so I’ve two of CAPA’s major submissions from this year on the media part of this blog.  If you’re interested, please find the Base Funding Review and Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People submissions attached here.

Base Funding Review_CAPA_final

Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

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