Labor’s research ideas welcome but sustainable funding needed – UA

Universities  Australia| 15 May 2015

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The Budget reply by the leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, committed to lifting research funding to 3% of GDP by the end of the next decade but stopped short in identifying the commensurate savings measures that would be needed to fund such a commitment, says Universities Australia (UA).

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UA chief Belinda Robinson described it as a worthy aspiration, with universities welcoming research

Belinda Robinson

Belinda Robinson

being back on the policy page of ideas for driving future national prosperity.

But what the community is also looking for is a strong and demonstrable commitment to sustainable and long-term funding for both higher education and research.

In 2011-12, expenditure on research and development in Australia was 2.1%  of GDP, below the OECD average of 2.3%.  In today’s terms, UA says meeting Labor’s target would involve an estimated additional $14 billion expenditure including $4 billion from the Australian government.

Robinson said universities will be seeking water-tight assurances that this funding would not come at the expense of other higher education and research programs.

We know from bitter experience that when it comes to higher education and research funding, deckchairs are more than shuffled, they are hurled overboard.

Sadly, for nearly a decade, both sides of politics have promised more than they could ultimately deliver in funding higher education and research.

It’s past time for all parties to get off the roller-coaster and commit to realistic, predictable and stable funding and policy for the long-term. Only then can universities get on with the job of providing the quality of education and research that our students, and the broader community expects.

See
Bill Shorten’s top three pledges could cost $40 billion
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