The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training has adopted key themes from Universities Australia’s submission. These include less red tape, ensuring adequate funding and reaffirming the centrality of expert peer review.
Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the committee had recognised the dedication of Australia’s researchers and made sensible suggestions to support their crucial work.
“Many of the recommendations are about helping researchers to get on with the job – making breakthroughs and forging new ideas and products that improve all our lives,” she said.
“If adopted, these particular recommendations would mean our researchers could spend more time in the lab and the field – and less time filling out lengthy grant applications,” she said.
“At the moment, researchers are overly burdened with continual applications and reporting which eats into the precious time they have available to chase cures, breakthroughs and insights.”
“In any one year, Australia’s university researchers collectively spend more than five hundred working years on writing applications for just one of the major national grants schemes.”
“This reduces the potential benefits that research can deliver for Australia and the world.”
The committee’s report also highlighted excessive reporting and regulation of research hampers the ability of Australian universities to deliver for the community.
“It’s also good to see the committee has reminded Government of the vital need for adequate support and funding for the full cost of Australia’s research effort,” Ms Jackson said.
“The committee has also recognised our researchers are at the top of the game and are leading experts who should be trusted to deliver world-class outcomes for Australia.”
“That’s why the committee reaffirms strongly that expert peer review must remain the arbiter by which research and its potential is judged and funded.”
Ms Jackson noted that if existing research grants were opened up to non-university researchers, there would need to be a commensurate increase in research funding from Government.