AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES
AUSTRALIAN ELECTION 2022
We at the Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) represent over 9,000 postgraduate and research students at the Australian National University (ANU). The challenges that our members are facing are not unique to our situation but are universal across the 400,000 postgraduates in Australia. As the federal election approaches, our members will be casting their votes informed by the candidates’ plans for addressing postgraduate students’ concerns.
Universities are fundamental to Australia’s prosperity. They educate, train and inspire a highly-skilled workforce - the future leaders of this nation. Only through substantial investment in higher education can Australia fulfil its ambitions to become a global leader in cutting-edge technology and innovation. Within the higher education sector, postgraduate students contribute to over half (56%) of Australia’s research and development outputs. At the ANU, thousands of our postgraduate students are driving progress on novel quantum technologies, new biomedical treatments for chronic diseases and sustainable agriculture practices. Our community is addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges, propelling innovation and contributing to nearly every area of the economy.
Yet, postgraduate students are facing more barriers than ever to accessing a quality higher education. Collectively, we endure the burden of unaffordable living conditions, rising costs of education and endless funding cuts. We are confronted by the entrenched inequality and unsafe environment of our educational institutions. We struggle with concerns over exploitative workplace arrangements and a dearth of employment opportunities. We face the ever-present threat of climate change from bushfires and floods, to emerging diseases.
Now more than ever, Australia’s prosperity depends on its highly skilled and innovative university graduates. We urgently need action, resourcing and investment. We call upon our politicians to demonstrate leadership in addressing education affordability, investing in high-quality jobs, eradicating inequality, and tackling climate change.
We call on all political parties and candidates in the upcoming federal election to commit to urgent and meaningful actions as outlined in the Open Letter:
• Reverse funding cuts, eliminate indexation on student loans, and increase federal subsidies and grants for postgraduate and research students beyond the Job-Ready Graduates Package.
• Create sustainable and high-quality jobs, provide work-integrated learning opportunities for postgraduate students and install greater protections to prevent workplace exploitation.
• Commit to policy initiatives and institutional changes to make our universities safer, more inclusive and more accessible to all.
• Take meaningful action on climate change, including increased funding for renewable energy research initiatives, clean energy and environmental policy studies.
You can view the full Open Letter here.