It may be cleverly hidden behind words like “adjustment” but the Budget has made a targeted cut to University research block grants.
$262 million over three years has been ripped away to fund the essential National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
“While the Go8 absolutely welcomes the NCRIS funding,” said Vicki Thomson Chief Executive of the Group of Eight, “cutting research block grants is a step too far. It should not come at the expense of essential research which is the backbone of the nation’s innovation programs, and which also forms the foundation of Australia’s third largest export market – the international student market.
“There is a very simple equation at play here. Research capability and results deliver University world rankings,” she said. “It is University world rankings which deliver international students. Pull away the quantum of research block grants and watch the international student market tumble – to the detriment of the national economy.
“The Government claims the $262 million is simply an adjustment,” said Ms Thomson. “The figures tell a different story.”
If Australia is to build a sustainable innovative economy post the mining boom, it requires real sustainable investment in research excellence. Unfortunately this Budget is focussed on short term issues rather than building a long term vision for an innovative research sector.