Research ideas welcome, sustainable funding needed
Last night the leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, committed to lifting research funding to three per cent of GDP by the end of the next decade but stopped short in identifying the commensurate savings measures that would be needed to fund such a commitment.
Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia said: "This is a worthy aspiration and universities welcome research being back on the policy page of ideas for driving future national prosperity.
"But what the community is also looking for is a strong and demonstrable commitment to sustainable and long-term funding for both higher education and research."
In 2011-12, expenditure on research and development in Australia was 2.1 percent of GDP, below the OECD average of 2.3 percent. In today's terms, meeting Labor's target would involve an estimated additional $14 billion expenditure including $4 billion from the Australian Government.
Universities will be seeking water-tight assurances that this funding would not come at the expense of other higher education and research programs.
"We know from bitter experience that when it comes to higher education and research funding, deckchairs are more than shuffled, they are hurled overboard," said Ms Robinson.
"Sadly, for nearly a decade, both sides of politics have promised more than they could ultimately deliver in funding higher education and research.
"It's past time for all parties to get off the roller-coaster and commit to realistic, predictable and stable funding and policy for the long-term.
"Only then can universities get on with the job of providing the quality of education and research that our students, and the broader community expects," said Ms Robinson.
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