Submission to Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements

Submission to Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements

18th September, 2015

AAMRI commends the Government on tackling the complex but critical issue of research policy and funding arrangements affecting the outcomes and impact of Australian research. This review could not have come at a more crucial time for the research sector, and the university sector in particular, with the imminent implementation of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The MRFF is forecast to add $1 billion per annum in Government funding for health and medical research by 2020, a significant proportion of which is likely to support university research. This will bring with it very substantial challenges, particularly for universities and the Department of Education and Training, in meeting indirect costs associated with this additional research.

AAMRI is optimistic that this review is an opportunity to finally make headway on the deep-seated issues with the Government’s research funding system. We would like to highlight upfront several high-level principles that are pivotal if this review is to deliver on the Government’s aim to streamline funding arrangements and boost commercial returns from its investment in research.

  • Reform of Research Block Grants (RBGs) must consider research organisations beyond the Higher Education sector and other Commonwealth schemes for the indirect costs of research, if it is not to exacerbate complexities and issues with current funding arrangements.
  • It is also essential that reforms to improve research impact look beyond ‘industry’ partners and commercial translation, to engagement with ‘end users’ and the many research translation pathways to economic, social and environmental outcomes.
  • Finally, Australia’s poor track record in research-industry links will not be overcome by looking at the Higher Education sector in isolation. Of equal importance are barriers, drivers and cultural issues of Australian industries/end-users, as well as other organisations in the research system, such as MRIs, hospitals and government agencies.

It is absolutely crucial that the Government uses this review to get the funding framework for indirect costs associated with all research it funds right before the MRFF rolls out in a significant way. The Government otherwise risks crippling the very sector it intends to revitalise.

 

You can download AAMRI’s full submission below.