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:
This is the third infrastructure survey conducted by the Go8, focusing on the state of the buildings and infrastructure at the Go8 universities. This most recent survey collated data relating to aspects of the estate not previously explored, including leasing arrangements, space utilisation, parking, and transportation modes.
Improving the quality of research training—both the breadth and depth of training—requires additional funding. At present the Research Training Scheme does not provide sufficient funding to cover the full costs of training research students and any increase in the number of students without increased funding would create major problems for universities. Cross subsidisation is becoming more difficult and government should not expect or require universities to provide a subsidy, given the critical need for more researchers and a broader research-trained workforce.
Australia’s universities are doing reasonably well on the published world rankings. However, the indicators used in all the major university rankings are necessarily lagged and the earlier dominance of universities of the developed economies of North America, Britain and Europe will decline over time. Australian universities may appear to be improving against this backdrop of decline, whereas they may well be slipping behind the emergent Asian leaders.
Go8 Backgrounder 6: Mission-based funding compacts with public universities explores the possible uses of compacts in government financing of university activities, examines their potential costs and benefits, and outlines principles for their design and implementation.
Business and universities are different but complementary parts of the national innovation system and the effectiveness of the system depends on them working together. Linkages require reciprocity and both sectors need to play a role in initiating and strengthening them; neither sector can act in isolation from the other and all parties need to respond to the needs and concerns of the others.
The overarching challenge for the higher education sector in coming years, and for higher education financing in particular, is to maintain the quality of the sector while absorbing large increases in enrolments, driven both by demographic change and increases in participation. Furthermore, this expansion of the system will take place in a context of fiscal constraint. For this reason, maintaining real equivalent per student funding will be a significant challenge.
This is an updated version of Go8 Backgrounder 10 previously released in June 2010. A number of amendments have been made due to errors found in the base participation rates used in the modelling for Method B. The key findings have not significantly altered.
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.