The Group of Eight (Go8), a coalition of Australia’s leading research universities, which includes the University of Sydney, has issued a statement condemning the Federal Government for their treatment of universities in the Federal Budget.
In particular, the statement condemns the abolition of the $3.9 billion education fund, which has been redirected to support a new natural disaster Emergency Response Fund. Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson complained that it was a “mockery” to redirect funds from research in a year of widely advertised budget surplus.
The statement from the Go8 comes barely a week after Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said that a “strong university research sector makes Australia stronger.”
Over the past seven years, Government funding for science, research and innovation has been cut by almost 10 per cent — a total of almost $1.1 billion in real terms.
In addition to condemning the Federal Budget, the Go8 also delivered an appraisal of the Federal Opposition’s budget response, which emphasised a commitment to education and research funding. The statement indicated that ahead of the upcoming election the Go8 will be “looking for sound policies underpinned by funding” in the field of research.
In a statement to Honi, Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson indicated that the statement was in no way an endorsement of Labor, but was an “endorsement of [their] policy as far as we know it.” Thomson clarified that the Go8 is in no way partisan, but welcomes policies that support university research, regardless of party.