Minister is short sighted about research opportunities

Education Minister Alan Tudge’s emphasis on the commercialisation opportunities of research is short-sighted, the NTEU said today.

In a major speech to the Universities Australia (UA) conference today, the Minister said that universities should play a “bigger role” in the government’s research commercialisation agenda.

“The Government’s emphasis denies the past experiences of commercially viable inventions that arise out of ‘blue sky’ research in an entirely different direction,” NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said today.

“There are numerous examples that demonstrate the potential for pure research to become applied research at some time – the current COVID testing procedures we use, microwave ovens and lasers are just a few examples.”

“If the Government was serious about its commitment to research and commercialisation opportunities, it would have continued the additional funding for research in this year’s Budget, but this was also cut.”

The Government is also not doing enough to revive the international student market in Australia, Dr Barnes said.

“There is no realistic roadmap for the return of international students to Australian campuses, just a vague reference to something ‘promising’ in South Australia. The current situation is seriously threatening the long-term viability of international students studying in Australia, as they increasingly look elsewhere.”

What about university jobs, Minister?

The stark reality of over 17,000 jobs lost in universities as a result of COVID seems to have passed by the Education Minister Alan Tudge.

“It’s very disappointing that the Minister has glossed over the biggest crisis ever faced by Australian universities. By UA’s calculation, over 17,000 jobs were lost from the sector in 2020. This figure is much higher when you include the casual and fixed-term staff who are no longer employed.”

“Many of these jobs could have been saved if the Government hadn’t changed the rules three times to deliberately exclude universities from JobKeeper. There has still been no explanation as to why.”

“By our calculations nearly 1,800 courses and over 150 degree programs have been removed from universities in 2021, significantly reducing student choice and potentially affecting the quality of education that students receive.”

“The Minister’s agenda for the sector outlined in his speech calls on universities to do much more with less resources. Despite the Minister talking up government funding, the reality is that the Government’s Budget papers indicate a 9.3% reduction in government funding over the next three years.”

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