James Pinkerton, President of NUPSA, gives his monthly update.


 

We have officially reached the midpoint of the year.

And with that time comes the mid-winter chills and flu season. For those of you who haven’t had your flu shots this year, I strongly recommend it. And for the rest of you, ensure you’re getting good rest and plenty of exercise to help fight off those winter bugs.

It’s been another busy month at NUPSA with a number of events ranging from TEDx forums, to the absolutely amazing Refugee Week, to the first NUPSA-sponsored footy day.  This year the NUPSA Executive has been brainstorming how to help present aspects of Newcastle culture to our international postgraduate students, as well as domestic students. What better opportunity to showcase Aussie culture then by attending some of the local sporting events.

For those of you who attended your first rugby league game, I hope you enjoyed yourself (even if the rules seemed a little confusing). I’d also like to take the opportunity to apologise for the Knights. We did try to ensure you’d all have the chance to see the local side win, but I understand if you’re all Tigers fans now. Considering we had such amazing attendance, we’re now looking at a similar event for a Newcastle Jets game come the start of the soccer season, so continue to watch this space.

 

 

Further to our social events, the NUPSA Executive has been busy representing Newcastle postgraduate students at the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) Special Council Meeting (SCM). The CAPA SCM is an opportunity for postgraduate organisations to work together on campaigns that will benefit postgraduate students Australia-wide.

Following this meeting, NUPSA has formalised its position against the proposed federal budget, which is currently being considered in the Australian senate. This budget will have a significant impact on UON students, with the proposed efficiency dividend removing ~$100 million of funding for the University over the next 10 years.

Further to this, NUPSA is deeply concerned about the changes to loan repayments, with the HELP threshold repayment to be lowered to $42,000 p.a. These changes, if implemented, will disadvantage students and affect the quality of their education. Furthermore, changes to funding structures of enabling courses will disproportionately affect low SES students.

Why are these changes important for postgraduate students? Because they will dramatically reduce the likelihood of students undertaking postgraduate study. NUPSA believes that higher education is essential to improve one’s holistic skillset and that postgraduate study is essential for developing those critical skills which are invaluable in the modern workplace. NUPSA would also like to commend UON for taking a stance against the elements of the proposed budget which will have a negative impact on UON students and staff.

 

“This budget will have a significant impact on UON students, with the proposed efficiency
dividend removing ~$100 million of funding for the University over the next 10 years.”

 

Furthermore, NUPSA had the chance this month to reach out and liaise with faculty HDR representatives. It was a fantastic opportunity to work on some of the key issues within each faculty, such as appropriate access to space and the role of students within specific boards. The most consistent concern amongst the faculty representatives was around the expenditure of HDR student research funding. This is primarily related to a lack of transparency between student and supervisor, which NUPSA believes could easily be rectified through stronger policy.

As such, NUPSA will advocate for the development of transparent policy that will ensure HDR students are made aware of how their research funding is spent. NUPSA believes this will lead to a more productive student and supervisor relationship, and improve the student experience.

Lastly, my thesis is due on the 28th of July so I’m in a slightly frantic mood. It’s a little scary but I’m quite excited about finishing. I can see the endpoint now and I’m looking forward to new adventures in post-student life.

As always, I hope everyone is well.

James

 

Contact James at james.pinkerton@uon.edu.au.

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