The Group of Eight (Go8) which represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, say tonight’s Federal Budget is a missed opportunity for Australia’s university sector, their researchers and – most importantly – the nation’s economy.
“Whilst we applaud the ongoing funding commitment to a 10-year, $5 billion investment plan for the Medical Research Future Fund, the budget has again failed to address the undisputable fact that funding for the nation’s research effort has continued to decline,” Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said.
By his own admission just last week, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan acknowledged that a “strong university research sector makes Australia stronger.”
What the Government has failed to address in this year’s budget is that Science, Research and Innovation (SRI) funding from Government has dropped from 0.67 per cent of GDP to 0.51 per cent of GDP over the last seven years according to the most recent SRI budget tables. This is a reduction in funding of $1.1 billion in real terms – a cut of 10%. With approximately 63% of Australia’s researchers in the Higher Education sector it is in universities that this funding decline has the greatest impact.
“Universities have proven they can be relied upon. Our 27 years of economic growth in Australia has been underpinned by one of the world’s best higher education and research systems – confirmed by the Government’s own research assessment results released last week. Yet despite this the Government has failed to back the sector in a year of budget surplus,” Ms Thomson said.
“Given recent experience, it seems that in budget terms the Higher Education research sector is the first to get cut and the last to see long term, sustainable investment. This reflects an attitude of dangerous complacency towards a sector that is a key driver of Australia’s economy.”
Contact: Vicki Thomson Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472