The Group of Eight (Go8) represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities. Seven of its members are ranked in the world’s top 100 universities. Over 99 per cent of its research is assessed by government as world class or above and it receives 73% of Australian Competitive Research Grant funding. We are globally engaged universities, hosting students from around 200 countries on our campuses, and we are involved in the majority of our nation’s global research partnerships. We use these connections for the national benefit while promoting Australia’s value to the world.
However, the Go8 does understand the shifting geopolitical framework, and is always mindful of national interest. We were therefore pleased to be asked by the Federal Government, and Australia’s security agencies, to assist in developing a methodology for initial discussion of security issues facing the sector, and then to be integral in the development of that set of guidelines for Australia’s universities.
The result of those discussions, the Guidelines to Counter Foreign Interference in the University Sector, have been released by Federal Education Minister Hon Dan Tehan today.
The development process was a positive one and that cooperative work will continue as the guidelines are further developed as fit for purpose into the future to add weight to the Go8’s already strong existing due diligence around research collaboration. It has been positive that the Morrison Government has chosen to seek sector inclusion in its process rather than take the heavy-handed over-reach approach of the US; which would have stifled academic freedom, ruined invaluable research partnerships and added regulatory burden and additional compliance.
The Go8 will, as always, continue to support research without borders with its international research teams, which form the foundation of the world in which we live and work. But the Go8 has understood the changing world in which the sector operates and hopes that the country-agnostic guidelines will be seen by the Australian community as a valuable first step in ensuring this iterative process can work for both Government and universities.
The Go8 has also been ensuring its own cooperative security processes have been strengthened. It has formalised an Information Management Group comprised of the most senior person from each member university with information security responsibilities.
International collaborations and partnerships facilitate the knowledge exchange that will increasingly underpin Australia’s prosperity and wellbeing. We see these Guidelines, and the establishment of our new committee, as important steps in securing that prosperity. We look forward to continuing to contribute to a secure and internationally engaged Australia.
Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472