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Australian university groups

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This is a summary of an article on  Australia’s various university groups by RMIT adjunct professor Gavin Moodie.

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Australian higher education institutions have formed themselves into groups with similar interests since the conference of directors of central institutes of technology (DOCIT) formed into a group to prepare a submission to the Williams committee of inquiry into education and training (1976). In 1999 DOCIT reformed as the Australian Technology Network (Curtin, QUT, RMIT, UniSA and UTS).

Since then groups of institutions have come and gone. The Group of Eight started meeting informally in 1994 and was incorporated in 1999 to lobby the Commonwealth to further concentrate resources in its member institutions. It comprises the big old mainland capital city universities heavily funded for research: the universities of Adelaide, ANU, Melbourne, Monash, Queensland, Sydney, UNSW and UWA.

Innovative Research Universities was formed in 2003 and now comprises Charles Darwin, Flinders, Griffith, James Cook, La Trobe, Murdoch and Newcastle.

The Regional Universities Network was established in 2011 and comprises CQUniversity, Federation University, UNE, Southern Cross, Southern Queensland and Sunshine Coast.

There is 1 club of universities – Universities Australia which originated as the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee in Sydney in May 1920.

UAThe AVCC was reasonably cohesive until 1988. There were clear differences between universities and the universities established in the 1960s and 70s (Flinders, Griffith, La Trobe, Macquarie and Murdoch) marked themselves as distinctive and different from their older siblings, deriving their interdisciplinarity and open academic structures from Essex and the better known Sussex universities. Nonetheless, the older universities maintained academic norms which were largely followed by all other universities.

This commonality of interests and norms fragmented after the former colleges of advanced education amalgamated with established universities or became universities in their own right from 1988. While they were all accepted into the AVCC, that was controversial and many still insist that the post-1988 universities should never have been admitted into the club. Conversely, the post 1988s declined to accept all the norms of the pre-1988 universities.

There are now clear differences between groups on several issues. The most salient is research funding. Basically, the Group of Eight (which already wins 75% of competitive research funds) believes that all research funding including non competitive funding should be concentrated in them.

There are similar university interest groups in the UK: the Russell Group are the elites, the University Alliance is a bit like the Australian Technological Network and Million+ comprises many of the post 1992 universities.

US elites formed the Association of American Universities, Canada’s elites have formed themselves into U15, and there are numerous international university clubs.

See the complete article
Australia’s university groups
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