Professor Ian Chubb AC
Vice-Chancellor & President
The Australian National University
There has been a reasonable degree of media coverage and political interest in the Group of Eight discussion paper on higher education launched in June by Glyn Davis; but much less interest in research, including the proposals in that discussion paper relating to regenerating Australia’s university research, research training and research infrastructure.
The Go8 offers a trusted network through which ideas and expertise are shared.
Various committees of Go8 directors meet regularly but separately to share information and ideas and to work jointly on projects (e.g. benchmarking).
Increasingly there are important points of interaction among the work of different groups. Consequently there is a need for shared understandings, agreed definitions and improved communication across the groups.
The Go8's submission to the Federal Government's Review of the National Innovation System includes over 20 recommendations designed to ensure that Australia's research and research training systems are capable of underpinning a dynamic economy and society. The Go8 submission stresses the importance of basic research and business / community / university collaboration to innovation, but suggests that arguably the most important function of universities is the cultivation of talent in an environment that values intellectual curiosity. Key recommendations of the Go8's submission include:
University funding is complex. It covers a range of different activities, sometimes in not entirely transparent ways. Policies and programs change over time. Inflation and movements in enrolments complicate the picture further. For all of these reasons, it is easy to make claims about funding over time that are only partly right. This paper looks at aggregate university funding, and funding for different university activities over time, adjusting for inflation and changes in student and staff numbers in order to develop a more informed and nuanced picture of trends.
Over recent years governments have been placing more emphasis on innovation as a source of national competiveness. Governments now assess their investments across many areas in terms of the contribution that such investments make to increasing innovation. This has been especially significant for education and in particular for the development of policies for universities because universities perform research as well as provide learning.
The current and first independent review of Australia’s student visa program by The Hon Michael Knight AO is a welcome indication of the Government’s recognition of the importance of international education to Australian society. It represents a crucial opportunity for reform to ensure Australian education institutions can compete for the most talented international students.
In the 2014 Commonwealth Budget the Government outlined major changes to Higher Education including the deregulation of student contributions. This proposal has elicited numerous comparisons with the United States in regard to their perceived levels of student fees and student indebtedness at graduation. In particular there has
Singapore, like Australia, is one of the world’s most prosperous countries. However, the basis for Singapore’s prosperity is quite different from that of Australia’s and for this reason it provides an interesting and complementary case study.
This Go8 Backgrounder outlines the strategies being adopted increasingly across countries to focus their investment in areas of research excellence.
In recent years, most of Australia’s comparator countries have been intensifying their investment in their leading research universities as a means of raising their competitiveness in the global knowledge economy.
Innovation is widely considered to be the driver for economic growth and prosperity. However, innovation is improbable without proper funding. Therefore the Go8 looked into the planned R&D investments in 2014 in selected countries.