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Go8 Media Release: Australia’s Research Excellence confirmed – against the funding odds

The fourth ‘Excellence in Research for Australia’ (ERA) results – a Government funded assessment of Australia’s research quality – has again highlighted the research depth and capability of Australia’s university sector and confirmed the role of the Group of Eight (Go8) as Australia’s leading research-intensive universities.

The Go8, which spends $6.4 billion on research each year has continued to deliver research which is of the highest quality, changes and saves lives and contributes $24.5 billion to the national economy each year.

“Even more remarkable is the fact that this sustained quality has been against a backdrop of cuts to university funding – the most recent just months ago when $328.5 million was slashed from research funding as part of the Government’s Mid-Year Economic Forecast (MYEFO),” Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said.

“The ERA results demonstrate our commitment to delivering research of the highest quality to the nation and globally. However, whilst it is an important signal of quality – it is just that and no more.

“The rationale for doing ERA every three years is questionable and it is time for a review. Against the backdrop of a distorted university funding model the Go8 continues to perform extraordinarily well with 99.6% of Go8 research rated as world-class or above.

“However, we do question the value of ERA beyond a successful quality assurance tool. This is particularly the case as ERA requires extraordinary administrative and academic effort on the part of both universities and the ARC, given its very comprehensive, labour-intensive and costly data collection process for no monetary return.

“Compare that with the equivalent UK exercise which, in 2018-19 allocated A$1.95 billion in research block grant funding on the basis of its assessment exercise.

“We need a review which includes addressing the current distorted funding model for research and as part of this broader context, consideration should also be given to not only accountability for research excellence but also rewarding it, particularly given that ERA currently does not inform the allocation of Government funding to universities.”

Contact:               Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472


Go8 Performance in ERA 2018

Through ERA 2018 the Go8 has demonstrated its world leading research excellence across all eight institutions in a large number of research disciplines of national importance.

All Go8s received ratings of 5 for the following four-digit fields of research
Pure Mathematics
Astronomical and Space Sciences
Environmental Science and Management
Clinical Sciences
All Go8s received ratings of 5 or 4 for the following four-digit fields of research
Applied Mathematics
Inorganic Chemistry
Medicinal and Biomolecular Chemistry
Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)
Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Evolutionary Biology
Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing
Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Cardiorespiratory Medicine and Haematology
Oncology and Carcinogenesis
Historical Studies

These fields of research are of direct and real relevance to Australia’s future, for instance:

  • Clinical Sciences: This is the research into the causes, diagnosis and importantly the treatment and management of diseases and medical conditions suffered by the Australian community. This research saves and improves lives.
  • Historical Studies: Research into the history of our own country and people, and those of the rest of the world that allows us to navigate complex international relations in an era of globalisation.
  • Geology: This research is vital to Australian mineral exploration: for instance, enhancing our understanding of the formation of iron ore deposits and expanding the detectable footprints of nickel ores (in Western Australia); as well as understanding the role of bacteria in the in-vitro growth of gold grains.