Level 4, 10 Moore St, Canberra ACT 2601
+61 2 5123 6700

Media release: Federal Budget just the beginning of reform for Australia’s research-based future – Group of Eight

May 14, 2024

The 2024-25 Budget has rightly focused on providing cost of living relief for students, however looking to the long term and measures to boost productivity growth by investing in research and development (R&D) will be key to underpinning Australia’s future prosperity.

Group of Eight Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said: “Budget initiatives to reduce Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debts including through indexation reform, support for nursing, teaching and social work students during practical placements and other equity-based initiatives will make a significant difference to Australian students but the long-term legacy of this Budget, this Government and its Future Made in Australia initiative will be how it delivers on the challenges in Australia’s higher education and research systems.”

Essential to securing this legacy will be the establishment of the Australian Tertiary Education Commission (ATEC) and the Strategic Examination of Australian Research and Development – both of which were announced tonight.

“The Universities Accord has laid bare the structural deficiencies of research funding for Australian universities that are the backbone of Australia’s innovation system. This includes a significant reliance on international student fees to subsidise government investment in research that still leaves Australia’s national investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP less than half that of the US and well short of the target of 3 per cent of GDP advocated for by the Go8.

“The Accord promised much – but much work is yet to be done – and we look forward to working closely on the establishment of the ATEC to drive long overdue reform for the system. The challenge of putting university research on a long-term sustainable footing must be part of the broader remit of ATEC as the steward of an integrated and expanded tertiary education system for the nation.

“This must also be done in conjunction with a national approach to research that addresses the current fractured and uncoordinated government support across multiple government portfolios and a need for a more integrated approach to research between universities and industry. That is why the national research review is so critical.

“We must be clear as a nation that having an innovation system operating at half the speed of our other advanced economies severely limits our capacity to support the type of new industries that will underpin a Future Made in Australia as well as other national initiatives such as the National Reconstruction Fund and the AUKUS partnership.

“It is not the job of the research review to tell us these well-known truths, it is the job of the review to identify national solutions and for government to implement them in collaboration with universities and industry.

The Go8 has already commenced its part in this collaborative work with a national roadmap to the target of 3% of GDP invested in R&D and looks forward to working with government and industry on both the national research review and the establishment of the ATEC.

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 438 047 155

Related Posts