Protecting Australia’s Sovereign Research Capability in a COVID World

| November 2, 2020

The first report of the joint National Resilience project by Global Access Partners and the Institute for Integrated Economic Research Australia calls for a more targeted and tightly curated system for allocating research funding, along with an overarching and long-term national research and innovation strategy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extent to which Australia’s sovereign research capability is vulnerable to a significant downturn in demand for higher education from international students, putting at risk Australia’s hard-won international reputation for high- quality research and the substantial benefits that it produces.

Some universities are better placed than others to ride out the storm, but it is highly unlikely that the research sector will “snap back” to its pre-COVID state. The federal government, expecting a significant increase in domestic demand in coming years – not only due to the fact that increased demand is usually correlated strongly with economic recession, but also because of the “baby bonus” demographic impact that was due to hit the sector about now in any case – is seeking to fund additional places through a package of recently announced reforms including realignment of student contributions.

To be successful, the system must be at the service of an overarching and long-term national research and innovation strategy, something which the country lacks and has done for some time due to the fact that priorities and funding mechanisms change whenever there is a machinery of government change or a new set of ministers.

Read the full report and its recommendations. 

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