Government policy must support research, says international university alliance

16 October 2013

A major collaboration by four of the world's leading university associations, including Australia's Group of Eight (Go8), has highlighted the importance of a policy environment that supports the continual pursuit of research excellence based on open enquiry and the continued challenging of current understanding.

The University of Sydney expressed its strong support for last week's statement (250KB PDF) by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Consortium of China 9 Research Universities (C9), the Go8, and the League of European Research Universities (LERU), which set out the key characteristics that underpin the effectiveness of research universities.

"This is a powerful articulation of the fundamental importance of research universities in the age of the global knowledge economy," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jill Trewhella, who represents the University of Sydney on the Go8 DVC's Research Committee.

"The basic matters of principle and policy design to which the statement speaks are highly relevant to current debates in Australia about higher education and research policy, including discussions about the value of academic freedom, and the independence and integrity of the Australian Research Council (ARC)."

The statement, issued at last week's annual meeting of the C9 universities in Hefei in China, said "it is critical that all relevant policies recognise the broad, pervasive and long-term benefits of university research and education and provide the support and environment that will ensure that these institutions continue to flourish."

The Hefei declaration follows a joint call (360KB, PDF) from the Australasian Councils of the Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Sciences and Information and Communications Technology for Australia's new federal government to support the ARC's role in maintaining the integrity of Australia's comprehensive research funding system through independent assessment processes.

The Research Committee of the University's Senior Executive Group, chaired by Professor Trewhella and comprising representatives of all 16 faculties and the Chair of the Academic Board, has expressed its strong support for both statements.