Funding cuts will derail Australia's research competitiveness

23 October, 2012

Cuts to University research funding, announced by the Federal Government will impact on Australia’s research competitiveness and ability to help the community address major social ills, University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis has warned.

Under the Government’s Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook statement, universities will lose $1 billion in expected funding over the next four years as the Government has scrapped plans to increase Sustainable Research Excellence funding, which provides the project-related infrastructure costs associated with research.

Professor Davis said while it was pleasing to see grants under the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council had not been affected, the cuts to the Sustainable Research Excellence funding program would have a significant impact on Australia’s research competitiveness.

"Australian universities are punching well above their weight in terms of their international rankings and their ability to have a real impact in meaningful research on a global stage," he said.

"University research has a dramatic effect on communities here and around the world – from addressing the common cold to studying breast cancer, from developing the bionic ear to improving our knowledge of history.

"This decision means universities, particularly research intensive universities like Melbourne will have to fund these programs from other areas, in Melbourne’s case this equates to up to $100 million over four years we need to find to ensure this work can continue.

"It is particularly disappointing that this decision comes just as Australia has propelled a record number of universities into the world’s top 100 research institutions."

Professor Davis said the University remained committed to implementing its recently announced research and research training agenda, which will see the University focus its research on addressing three of the grand challenges affecting the global community – increasing our understanding of place and purpose, fostering health and wellbeing and supporting sustainability and resilience.