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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A number of imperatives are driving the need for change in Australia’s university research sector and it will be essential for Australian universities to address these quickly if Australia is not to be left behind economically and socially:
• Intensifying competition for intellectual talent
• Increasing complexity of research problems
• Sophisticated, powerful technologies and large data sets
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.
There is an ongoing discussion in Australia on the need to improve the linkages between business and universities. Not surprisingly, this issue tends to receive more attention as financial and budgetary conditions tighten and as governments look for more immediate and visible returns on their investments. This is because capturing the commercial benefits of university research will often depend on business.