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 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:
The Go8 submission to the Senate Economics Committee's inquiry into the innovation system in Australia discusses the role and importance of research-intensive universities, as well as the attributes that characterise them.
The submission highlights the importance of the following:
openness and autonomy
The Go8 offers a trusted network through which ideas and expertise are shared. Various committees of Go8 directors meet regularly to share information and ideas and to work jointly on projects.
The first Go8 Directors' event, held in Melbourne in May 2009, brought together the various director groups (commercialisation, human resources, international, research, data sharing and more) with a view to developing understanding, increasing operating efficiency and improving collaboration across the Go8 network.
The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) and the Group of Eight (Go8) undertook a joint trial exercise, the Excellence in Innovation for Australia (EIA) Trial, in 2012 to assess the impact of research produced by the Australian university sector.
This scheme is a joint initiative of the Go8 and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany's national agency for the support of international academic co-operation.
It is one of the world's largest and most respected organisations in its field. Its mission is to advance Germany’s international engagement in the fields of education, science, culture and research.
This paper shows that while the absolute amount of higher education research funding has grown significantly, the relative shares of research income and research block grant funding of the major university groupings in Australia has been largely unchanged over the past two decades, with most redistribution of shares occurring between non-Go8 institutions.
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.
Governments in many countries exert pressures on universities to be more accountable for the results they manage to achieve with the resources available to them. A recently added twist, ironically within the context of falling government investment and rising student demand, is that governments are intruding into areas which have long been regarded as prerogatives of autonomous universities.