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Media release: Go8 welcomes Higher Education sector “support” package but admits to disappointment at its narrow focus

The Group of Eight (Go8) represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, with seven of its members ranked in the world’s top 100 universities. Those eight universities were the first to be heavily financially impacted by COVID-19 (from January) and are likely to continue to be the most affected and for the longest period.

“We understand the acute financial impost of COVID-19 on all industry sectors, so we are pleased to see the Government providing funding certainty in those most uncertain and debilitating times,” says Go8 Chief Executive, Vicki Thomson.

“We are delighted the Government has maintained our trust by ensuring the continuation of the sector funding, which is already allocated in the budget forward estimates and we thank the Minister for ensuring that already agreed to funding is to be continued. We are also pleased that short courses, upskilling and retraining, and understanding where the weak links in our future skill requirements are, has been recognised as invaluable.

“However, we cannot ignore the fact that our research-intensive universities are facing a significant revenue shortfall of almost $3billion. While Go8 members are already committing significant funds to help our institutions, their staff and their students manage through this crisis, our capacity to do so is rapidly being exhausted.

“Our biggest challenge is ensuring we can continue to do the research, which at its core is all about people, which will change and save lives – including research related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now over this Easter break, scores of our researchers across the Go8 have been working around the clock on the biggest national health and economic challenge of our times – developing a ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ – an exit and recovery strategy to be presented to Government.

“Funding for research, which will drive productivity, and which will be at the core of any chance of Australia emerging from this crisis with a redesigned and repurposed economy will have to be addressed at the appropriate time.”

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472