“Australia’s research system is one of the best in the world, and it’s in our national interest that it stays that way,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“To remain at the forefront of global research advances, Australia needs a system with strong governance, robust peer review and genuine transparency at its core. The Australian Research Council is fundamental to this system.”
The submission offers a range of recommendations, addressing:
- the Haldane Principle – a principle that ensures decisions on individual proposals be made by researchers themselves through peer review – and the ministerial veto
- governance of the ARC
- structures and staffing
- national interest test
- national security in research, and
- grant success rates.
“These functions underpin the critical work of our researchers and will help take Australia’s research to new levels – generating even greater social and economic gains for our nation,” Ms Jackson said.
“For every dollar invested in research and development, five dollars is returned to the economy. It’s an economic no brainer to ensure the research system is strong.
“We can’t afford to have a research system which falls short of backing the best and brightest people and their ideas – ideas that have gone on to change lives, solve challenges and deliver breakthroughs.
“Recent changes to the national interest test, which re-establish a system that assesses grants on merit and peer review, is a step in the right direction to bolster confidence amongst our valued researchers.
“Expert review is the cornerstone of merit-based research systems, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely on the best research across all fields of endeavour.
“That’s why we’re urging the government to remove ministerial veto on projects recommended by the ARC.
“There is more work to be done, and we will continue to work with the government through the review process and beyond, to ensure Australia reaps the benefits from an internationally competitive, robust research system.”