Postgrads Helping Postgrads to Succeed

A committee delegation from SCPA along with staff representative Craig Wilson attended the annual Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) meeting in Sydney from 23-25 November 2016.

This year, representation from Southern Cross University (SCU) was particularly vital, as there were numerous issues that needed to be addressed on behalf of the 300,000 postgraduate students that CAPA represents. Some highlights of the conference are summarised below.

  1. A presentation by the Deputy Chair of ACOLA Review of Research Training System, Professor Helene March of James Cook University. The presentation outlined upcoming changes to Australian Postgraduate Scholarships (APA). The changes are being researched and investigated by the committee who will prepare and report back to the SCU committee so that information regarding the proposed changes can be disseminated to our postgraduate students.
  2. Discussions were held between the delegation representatives on a national and regional level. There was an overwhelming agreement between the attending universities that CAPA had not performed satisfactorily over the last year. Members (including SCU) argued that we expected improved representation, more policy submissions and more information regarding postgraduate issues from CAPA.
  3. The SCU delegation met in person with prospective office bearers (notably President and Vice President) before the election process to discuss our concerns and ensure that the incoming nominee CAPA executive and office-bearers were committed to improving CAPA’s performance. In the forum before voting, the SCU delegation asked one of the two questions permitted “What was the primary strategic organisational challenge facing CAPA over the next 12 months.” The response from Peter Derbyshire demonstrating his commitment to improve CAPA’’s performance and securing the role of CAPA President in the election.

We were also particularly proud of our staff representative Craig Wilson who volunteered to undertake the role of Returning Officer for the conference. This is a task usually performed by an employed election officer. However, this had not been arranged for this year’s conference. Craig performed this role with expertise and clarity that saw his final report being accepted without any challenges to the election outcome. SCU was thanked for Craig’s community spirit.

A final reflection from the conference, here at SCU, unlike some of the other Universities, we were proud to note the amount and quality of support we can provide to our postgraduate students.  One reason for this, we believe, is the constructive relationship that our association maintains with the SCU Executive. The CAPA conference gave the delegation an opportunity to keep up to date with upcoming policies, campaigns, and many other issues that impact our postgraduate students.  We are particularly pleased that our participation and engagement at the conference has led to the newly elected CAPA Executive and office bearers being more accountable, which will lead to better representation for our members.

 

Angie Walker, Jock Mackenzie, Barbara Kinder & Craig Wilson

(SCU 2016 CAPA Delegation)

Image: Jock Mackenzie (SCPA), Angie Walker (SCPA), Barbara Kinder (SCPA), Jim Smith (CAPA National President)

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