Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations

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The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is the peak representative body for postgraduate students in Australia. Founded in 1979, CAPA provides member associations with representation to the Federal government, and peak bodies such as the Australian Research Council and Universities Australia, on issues affecting postgraduate students in Australia. In 2010, Australia had over 320,000 postgraduate students.

Recognising the dual roles of many postgraduate students, CAPA works in collaboration with the National Union of Students where matters impact on all students (such as voluntary student unionism and funding for higher education), and with the National Tertiary Education Union regarding issues of employment in the tertiary education sector, particularly on the casualisation of the academic workforce.

CAPA has an office located at the NTEU National office in Melbourne, Victoria. Its Annual Council Meeting (ACM), where organisational issues and policy directives are decided, is hosted by a different constituent organisation each year.


Each year, at the Annual Council Meeting, the Council elects office bearers.

There is an Executive Committee, consisting of the President (chair), Vice-President (National Operations Committee), Vice-President (Equity), General Secretary, Policy and Research Advisor, Media Officer and NIPAAC Liaison Officer.

The Equity Committee, chaired by the Vice-President (Equity), consists of the Women's Officer, International Officer, Disability Officer, NIPAAC Officer and the Queer Officer.

The National Operations Committee, chaired by the Vice-President (National Operations), consists of the President, Vice-President (Equity) and all of the Regional Branch Presidents.

CAPA currently employs one staff member, an Administration and Finance Officer.

The National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation (NIPAAC) is a separate constituent organisation, representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) students.


The Council is broken into five administrative Regions, each with its own Regional Secretary:

Achievements since 1979[edit]

1999 -2002

• CAPA had a very significant role to play in enlisting the Indies and some Nationals to fend of David Kemp's attempt at VSU. Part of the reason was a very well run campaign where CAPA partnered with constituents to inspire the support of their institutions. While NUS were influential, it was widely seen among politicians to be CAPA's victory.

• CAPA had a significant input into debates around Kemp's research training policy development process, and did secure some limits to the Hayek-inspired further excesses of Kemp's agenda.

• 2000: CAPA and Bradley Smith negotiated with the Labor Opposition and the Democrats to ensure significant improvements were made to the ARC Bill, the enabling legislation that established the ARC in its current incarnation.

• CAPA with support from the Labor Opposition and the Democrats ensured that postgraduate student issues are placed significantly on the table during the Universities in Crisis senate inquiry (especially postgraduate coursework fees, RTS formula issues and APA rates).

• CAPA helped get humanities and social sciences research issues on the national agenda.

• CAPA played a significant role in orchestrating a national cease-fire to produce a sector-wide alliance between the workers (Carolyn Allport and NTEU) and the bosses (AVCC under Ian Chubb) and the undergraduate students (David Henderson at NUS) and the postgraduate students - a very effective united front that suspended hostilities on all their internecine bickering for the sake of an agreed national policy agenda.

• CAPA worked closely and very productively with NUS at national, state and institutional levels to push the WA Gallop Government to wind back the Court Liberal Government's VSU legislation. Over a period of more than 2 years this effective partnership of undergraduate and postgraduate reps succeeded in brokering a deal that all 4 public institutions and the state government could live with.

2008 -2010

• Achieving near universal coverage for research postgraduates in establishing minimum resource standards policies

• Working with NUS to help set up CISA

• Successfully lobbying for more postgraduate awards

• 10% increase in APA’s and access to student income support for coursework masters students (due in 2014)

• Directly informing the development of the Federal Government’s Research Workforce Strategy

• Getting amendments voted on in Federal Parliament to improve the treatment of postgraduate students receiving scholarships and parenting and carer payments

• Important reforms to student visa provisions for postgraduates:

• Amendments to the SSAF guidelines to specifically refer to services and representation for postgraduate and international students:

• Winning postgraduate eligibility for the Training and Learning Bonus:

• Access to income support for all masters by coursework students by 2012

• Doubling the number of Australian Postgraduate Awards between 2008 and 2012

• A 10% increase in the APA rate

• Improved indexation of the APA award

• Implementation of a national research workforce strategy

• Early and mid-career researchers featured in the 2007 election campaign in the announcement of the Future Fellowships program, involving 1,000 four-year Fellowships for mid-career researchers valued at $140,000 per year. Funding for the scheme was included in the 2008 Federal Budget.

• CAPA worked towards featuring postgraduates and early-career researchers in the 2009 Federal Budget, with the Government aiming to significantly increase the number of students completing research degrees over the next decade. Announcements included improved indexation arrangements for research funding, increased funding for research through the Sustainable Research Excellence initiative, improved transparency requirements for the use of research funds and a “short term boost” for early career researchers through the Super Science Fellowships.

• Roadshows: Directly engaged with universities, affiliates and large numbers of individual postgraduate students face-to-face, and giving each of those groups something of value through these events.

• CAPA campaigned towards allowing coursework masters students to apply for Austudy from 2012

• CAPA’s input into APA recipients receiving a 10% increase in stipend as of Jan 1 2010

• CAPA’s input into the creation of about 12,000 additional research student entitlements to receive the Training and Learning Bonus

• CAPA’s advocacy into the Student Services and Amenities bill which passed with provisions for money to go to student rep organisations

• CAPA led the establishment of CISA so that international students once again have a strong, reputable peak body

• Membership on the Federal Government’s Research Workforce Strategy Committee which lead to our current (2011-2012) project for the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education on the research education experience

• CAPA’s win on the outcomes of the Knight Review - e.g. full work rights for international research students, more flexible visa arrangements post-submission

• Helping re-establish postgraduate organisations on campuses where they've disappeared since VSU, such as UQ

See also[edit]

External links[edit]