Graduate student workers support NTEU Day of Action: fund our universities, no job cuts, universal and automatic extensions for HDR students!

Calling all campus workers and students. All can sign this to show we are building solidarity with each other across the university sector nationally.

We, the undersigned, are graduate student workers: higher degree research students, PhD and MPhil/MA candidates, both domestic and international students. Many of us are casual and sessional workers at our universities. Without our research and labour, universities do not function. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, countless numbers of graduate student workers have lost their jobs.

Many have experienced unprecedented disruptions to their research, work and study due to closures of key research facilities and resources, cancellation of research trips, inadequate working from home arrangements, increased caring responsibilities, and major mental and physical health impacts. The situation is particularly grim for HDR students who do not receive stipends and international students and migrant workers, the latter, unable to access the federal government’s COVID-19 support packages, are left in complete financial limbo.

Despite the severity of the situation, universities have refused to grant universal extensions to candidatures, and ignored students’ demands for adequate COVID-19 support, putting the imperatives of budgetary austerity above the well-being of their students. Recently, the government has announced several temporary measures that will allow universities to extend Research Training Programs (RTPs) by up to six months. At present, the Australian Government provides funding for all universities to extend candidature and stipends for up 4.5 years (and 2.5. years for MA/MPhil students). Universities have the capacity to look after everyone. Yet they prefer to feign normality and withhold students’ stipends rather than providing the support that we all need.

Automatic and universal extensions now!

All graduate student workers face compelling and unexpected circumstances beyond their control due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All graduate student workers, domestic and international, are entitled to automatic extensions to their candidatures and stipends. Over 600 Melbourne University staff and students, including 80 supervisors, have already signed onto an open letter demanding Universal Extensions.

We support the NTEU National Day of Action on 21 May to demand for universal extensions and in support of higher education jobs and courses. Students and staff — both casual and ongoing — rely on a well-resourced education sector. The disappearance of job security affects us all. When HDR and casuals’ conditions are reduced, so are the working conditions for all academic and professional staff. We will be stronger if we fight back together.

As part of a united campaign to save every university job threatened by tertiary austerity during the coronavirus crisis. We demand:

– That universities provide automatic and universal six-month extensions for PhD candidatures, with equivalent extensions for MPhil/MA students
– That the government fund the shortfall in funding to provide resources for all HDRs
– Save every job in the sector – no cuts to pay and conditions
– That JobSeeker be extended to all students and JobKeeper extended to all campus workers – international, migrant and domestic.
– That the government expand housing support for all international students

We urge all HDR students to join the NTEU, which is currently providing free membership for postgraduate students and casual workers.

We will support actions by fellow NTEU members throughout the sector, including organising media campaigns and taking industrial action. If we fight together we can win. We stand in solidarity with all university workers, from casuals to cleaners and call centre staff. Restore our university community.

Organisation endorsements:

National Higher Education Casuals Networks
National Higher Education Action Network


Amber Karanikolas, Latrobe University
Judith McVey, University of Sydney
Cam Lawrence, University of Sydney
Shan Windscript, University of Melbourne
Anna Hush, UNSW
Tash Heenan, University of Sydney
Anna Sturman, University of Sydney
Josie Reade, University of Melbourne
Ainslee Meredith, University of Melbourne
Daniel Cotton, University of Sydney
Rosie Joy Barron, University of Melbourne
Steph Houghton, La Trobe University
Katie Wykes, Swinburne University
Michael Pearson, ACU
Karina Gutierrez, Flinders University
Robin Keegan-Trelaoar, Flinders University
Nicola Joseph, UNSW
Gemma Beale, Flinders University
Eva Birch, Melbourne University
Alasdair Kempton, Monash University
Max Bledstein, UNSW
May Majimbi, Curtin University
Jake Franklin, La Trobe University
Jimmy Yan, Melbourne University
Dashie Prasad, University of Technology, Sydney
Paul Clifford, Curtin University
Lauren Murphy, La Trobe
Matilda Fay, University of Technology, Sydney
Jesse Martin, La Trobe University
Ruby Wawn , University of Technology, Sydney
Kynan Tan, UNSW
George Papadopoulos, University of Sydney
Frances Clarke, University of Sydney
Niall Edwards-FitzSimons, Sydney Conservatorium of Music/University of Sydney
Connor Jolley, RMIT
Ian Anderson; RMIT
Catherine Weiss, RMIT
James Burgmann-Milner, Monash University
Polly Bennett, Victoria University, RMIT University
James Watson, Australian National University
Lisa de Kleyn, RMIT University
Rowena Lennox, University of Technology Sydney
Kerry Ryan, Swinburne University of Technology
Nick Pelley, Swinburne
Postgrads for Fair Pay, University of Sydney
Rosalind Bellamy, La Trobe University
Zsuzsanna Ihar, University of Sydney
Clare Arthurs, Swinburne
Dimity Hawkins AM, Swinburne University of Technology
Julie Kimber, Swinburne University of Technology
Finn Bryson, University of Sydney


For further information contact: Judy McVey: Ph:/Txt 0418347374, Email:
Or leave a comment below to have your name added to the signatories. We are inviting all students and staff across the university sector to sign, not just HDRs.


Editorial team

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