The Group of Eight (Go8) welcomes the release of the Innovation and Science Australia innovation plan Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation as a long overdue big picture approach to the role of innovation in securing Australia’s future.
Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive of the Go8, says that whilst the companion piece to the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) has “much to recommend it” questions remain over the funding of universities and a unified vision for post-secondary education as a driver of innovation.
“We agree that the five identified strategic imperatives – Education, Industry, Government, Research & Development, and Culture & Ambition – are critical areas of focus and as research intensive universities the Go8 institutions are already major contributors in these areas,” said Ms Thomson.
“Some of the specific elements of plan are sensible measures, many advocated for by the Go8 in the past including
- securing long-term funding for national research infrastructure;
- a collaboration premium in the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) – as recommended by the 2017 review of the RDTI – to incentivise increased business engagement in research with universities;
- better preparing students for post-school science, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations; and
- scaling-up industry higher degree by research placement programs.”
“However, while the plan acknowledges the quality of Australia’s universities and their research effort, it takes universities largely for granted. The assumption that Higher Education in Australia will remain globally competitive up to 2030 and beyond, and at the same time significantly increase collaboration with industry, while billions are removed from the system by the Government, threatens to see the whole innovation plan unravel.”
“Similarly, while reviewing and strengthening the contribution of the Vocational Education and Training system in producing the innovation workforce of the future is important, where is the consideration of how this fits with university education in delivering innovation and research skills? As the Go8 has publicly advocated for previously, a review of the entirety of post-secondary education is necessary to ensure that every Australian receives the education best suited to them.”
“In addition, it is vital to ensure that Australia’s capability is not compromised by short-sighted and hastily developed policies that affect how attractive it is as an innovation destination, including to those talented overseas scientists necessary to support our role as a leading research nation.”
“Today’s plan is a valuable starting point which needs further development and backing from Government. Freezing University funding as the Government is seeking to do will seriously compromise the implementation of this plan,” said Ms Thomson.
Contact: Vicki Thomson Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472