The Group of Eight (Go8) comprises Australia’s leading research-intensive universities and carries out some 70 per cent of Australian university research. Its globally renowned research is also rated at 99.6 per cent world class standard or above.
“We know exactly what high quality research and researchers can do for every Australian, and we also know these benefits are worth every cent, and more,” says Vicki Thomson Go8 Chief Executive. “This positive Budget 2020 outcome for university research is recognition that the nation is facing dual significant and confounding issues – recovery from COVID-19, and the fast-changing, perplexing, geopolitical situation that necessitates us becoming a more sovereign nation throughout every facet.
“Research and researchers are essential to managing both issues and will ensure we thrive as a nation economically,” she said. “As the Treasurer said in his Budget speech, there is ‘$1 billion for new research funding for our universities, backing our best and brightest minds whose ideas will help drive our recovery.
“The Go8 had advocated strongly for the additional funding,” Ms Thomson said. “Placing it directly into the Research Support Program (RSP) research block grant was also recognition that at this time in our history research universities need the flexibility of that funding pipeline to respond quickly and with autonomy. “We can promise Australia that it will be money well spent, accurately targeted and manifestly impactful.”
The Go8 says that it is important that the additional one-off injection of $1 billion will be made available in 2020-21. “This means there are funds when we need them most for what absolutely must be achieved. It enables us to do what is needed now. We have been quite desperate in past months as researchers were being stood down and research programs faltered or halted all because we were missing the International student fees which previously paid for Australia’s research.
“With no idea when or even if that market will ever recover, the silver lining is that Australia can once again claim it is funding its own research. That will be welcomed much further afield than our university campuses. It will reverberate positively through industry and our security services.”
The Go8 looks forward to all Australians seeing the benefits of its new research funding and will work cooperatively with Government to bring about strong economic traction post COVID.