I am pleased to present this final report of the Health and Medical Research Strategic Review on behalf of the Advisory Committee. We were asked by the Vice-Chancellor to conduct a strategic review of the University of Sydney’s health and medical research in order to better position the University and strengthen its capacity to respond to major changes occurring within the health and medical research sector across Australia and worldwide. This report makes recommendations as to how this can be achieved over the next 10 years.
During the course of this review I have had the opportunity to meet many people engaged in many different areas of health and medical research across the University’s network. I was struck by their deep commitment to research excellence and their strong desire to make a tangible difference to health outcomes nationally and globally. These qualities are consonant with the report’s recommendations and will be valuable to the implementation process. High-quality health and medical research is a powerful driver of innovation and is essential to the effectiveness of our health services and improved community wellbeing.
Australian governments are investing over $4 billion annually in health and medical research; increasingly they are looking to the research community to help tackle the complex factors driving growth in health expenditure. The NSW Government alone has an annual health budget of $17 billion; and according to a recent report by the Grattan Institute, government budget projections for the next decade indicate there will be sustained increases in government spending, especially in the health sector.
These circumstances are changing not only the health-care environment but also the health research landscape. Researchers need to be well positioned not only to continue the important quest for discovery but also to focus explicitly on the health challenges of primary concern to funders and providers of health care services.
The University of Sydney has a pre-eminent position in health and medical research in NSW and Australia. This position has been established over many decades, building on the skills, commitment and dedication of the research workforce in the University and in the well-respected institutes and centres affiliated with it, as well as on strong performance in competitive grants, excellent research outcomes, substantial new capital investment, and ongoing connections across a vast and diverse clinical network.
This review has found, however, that despite these strengths and the scale and breadth of its research, the University of Sydney is not being assessed as first in Australia as often as could be expected, and in some areas of health and medical research is being outperformed by other Go8 universities.
Through a process of consultation, analysis and benchmarking the Advisory Committee is advocating a number of recommendations and actions which, if implemented over the next 10 years, will re-position the University to achieve the following vision:
The University of Sydney will be recognised as a world leader in health and medical research and will deliver outcomes of significant benefit for the health and wellbeing of society.
Implementing the review recommendations will position the University to play a leading role in redefining how health and medical research will contribute to meeting significant societal challenges.
I commend this report to the Vice-Chancellor. It has been a pleasure and privilege to Chair this review, and I extend my thanks to all those who have provided input to it and to those who have worked on this report.
Mr Peter Wills AC