Science & Technology Australia (STA) welcomes a report published today following the Federal Inquiry into Funding Australia’s Research.
Following recent delays to Australian Research Council funding, and falling investment in research and development, it is heartening for the sector to have strong and reasoned suggestions for reversing these damaging trends.
Following our submission in June, STA is pleased to note a number of recommendations that align with the priorities we laid out, including:
- Recommendation 1 – Comprehensive reform across three key areas—research management, application and assessment, and grant funding documentation.
Specifically, it suggests a two-stage application process as per STA’s submission, which comprises of:
- Stage one: a competitive component including an expression of interest designed to give weight to the research proposal, and prepopulated information regarding track record and research capacity; and
- Stage two: a non-competitive component for successful stage one applicants to provide a full proposal and budget.
- Recommendation 8 – The Committee recognises the importance of under-represented groups. It recommends that:
- peer reviewers are mindful of under-represented groups including EMCRs, Indigenous researchers, women, minority groups and rural and regional universities; and
- funding agencies monitor and report annually on grant funding success rates for under-represented groups.
Other recommendations and inclusions within the report aligning with STA’s priorities include:
- the establishment of a Research Future Fund to support the translation of non-medical research;
- improved transparency and clearer guidelines for the allocation of funding (STA’s focus has been on improving this for funding relevant to national research infrastructure and the Medical Research Future Fund); and
- more work to increase industry collaboration with universities and other publicly funded research institutions.
Further recommendations also encourage more meaningful support to Early and Mid-career researchers by creating protections for them should project funding cuts occur. The report also recommended increased flexibility in the types of projects and the institutes that can access funding including participation in international research funds like the European Event Horizon program.
The full report can be accessed online.