The Group of Eight (Go8) – representing Australia’s leading research-intensive universities – is strongly supportive of taking a forward-looking approach to building a dynamic, productive, sustainable economy to support our collective future.
Working Future: The Australian Government’s White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities rightly identifies our education system as central to building Australia’s future workforce, and the importance of innovation to productivity growth.
Go8 universities are key contributors to Australia’s highly skilled workforce, and producers of the majority of our high quality, university-based research. In addition to all of our members being ranked in the top 100 institutions worldwide – with three now rated within the top 20 by the QS World University Rankings – we conduct just over a fifth of all R&D in Australia, including by businesses and governments, and are leading collaborators globally in developing the knowledge to tackle challenges and achieve opportunities.
Collectively, we also educate more than half of Australia’s medical, dentistry and veterinary students, produce more than half of Australia’s science graduates, and more than 40 per cent of engineering graduates.
The Go8 stands ready to use our significant quality education and research heft to help the Government achieve its employment and productivity goals to the benefit of the nation.
However, we urge the Government not to overlook the significant national asset that is our high performing research universities.
“The White Paper recognises that physical infrastructure has been a key driver of productivity growth in Australia and expects this to continue to drive Australia’s productivity potential,” says Chief Executive Vicki Thomson. “But we know that long-term it is investment in knowledge creation and human capital together that provide the basis for increasing returns or accelerating productivity growth that Australia needs.
“This is more than Australians adopting knowledge and technologies developed overseas, it is also backing Australian research to continue to be a world leader and to turn that world leading research to addressing the challenges identified in the White Paper, including in relation to the care economy and energy.
“The Australian Government’s White Paper could have made a much stronger intent on reigniting productivity growth by specifying a national target for R&D to GDP of 3 per cent in Australia, as part of the outlined actions.
“The Go8 is ready and able to work with Government on the next step of this process – and to ensure that we are able to capitalise on our significant advantages and the talent residing in our communities and innovative industries, to ensure a successful and prosperous Australia into the future”.