Investment in unis and research Key to counter economic headwinds

Maintaining investment in university education and research is vital if Australia is to counter global economic headwinds and their impact on jobs and prosperity.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said today’s mid-year budget update showed “we need to keep our foot on the productivity pedal” with skilled graduates and research.

“With the global economy facing strengthening headwinds, we need to accelerate into them by investing in our people and job-creating research breakthroughs,” she said.

“In challenging economic times, people often seek to get back into education or training to better their chances of getting work.”

“Like successful businesses, as times get tougher, smart governments invest in the future of their people.”

Key measures in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) that affect universities include:

  • Pilot programs to lift business-university collaboration ($9.6m over two years);
  • $15 million for five extra regional study hubs;
  • $30 million for a School of Mines at CQU in Rockhampton;
  • $30 million for Tasmania Defence Innovation and Design precinct at the University of Tasmania in Launceston; and
  • Changes to the R&D tax incentive claimed by business.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Education Minister Dan Tehan have urged stronger collaboration between business and universities to drive economic growth and prosperity.

But the Government has not yet added a premium rate to the R&D tax incentive for businesses that collaborate with a university.

“We think that was a missed opportunity and we’d encourage Government to take a fresh look at that in the new year,” Ms Jackson said.

“This MYEFO also included $15 million for five more regional study hubs which are a welcome addition.”

“Regional study hubs can help students studying online in remote locations, but of course they are not a replacement for an enrolment in a funded university place.”

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