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Letter to the editor from Group of Eight Chief Executive Vicki Thomson – AFR

August 24, 2023

22 August 2023

The recent oped, Beware the big unis push for a two-tiered research system, (AFR 20 August 2023) cannot go unchallenged. The article makes outrageous and frankly incorrect claims about the Go8’s submission to the Universities Accord.  

It focuses on one of many ideas in the Go8 submission – a network of federally funded research-intensive universities to guarantee Australia’s strategic research needs, with a hub and spoke collaboration with the rest of the sector. While this idea has merit, it is not core to the Go8 submission and has been completely mischaracterised.  

Nowhere does the Go8 submission state that a network of federal research-intensive universities must comprise only Go8 universities.  

In reality, the needs of the nation might dictate more or fewer than eight universities of potentially differing types and profiles. The hub-and-spokes suggestion – undetailed in the Go8 submission – is to provide support for collaboration not compulsion or command and control.

Further, to suggest that the idea  is equivalent to women only being allowed to access NHMRC funding through a male colleague is not only misrepresenting our submission but insulting.  

The aim of the Go8 submission is to support a diverse, sustainably funded research system for the nation. We can only achieve the outcomes the nation deserves through the Accord process if we engage in civil and constructive discussions.