“Education is the new wealth of nations,” says Group of Eight’s Jacobs

Education is the new wealth of nations,” and Australians, “must stop seeing the funding of research as tantamount to a charitable donation, UNSW VC and Group of Eight chair Ian Jacobs told the National Press Club yesterday.

And while he acknowledged “vocational, TAFE and other outstanding universities – all equally crucial to the future of Australia,” the wealth generators he focused on are the elite research unis he represents.  “Life-changing, society-advancing endeavours are the fundamental contributions of our universities.”

However, he acknowledged, “there is a perception, not just in Australia, that universities have failed to adapt to meet contemporary needs and there appears to be a lack of understanding, of what universities offer our nation socially and economically.”

Universities, “have not excelled at communicating their worth, he said.

So he communicated it.

Professor Jacobs pointed to Go8 commissioned research which found that the $6.7bn in public funding for his members (of $12.4bn total operating costs) generates $66bn return across the economy. And the 100 000 international students at Go8 members produce $51 000 in non-fee income across their studies, kicking $8.5bn into the economy in 2016

And he committed the Go8 to an “concerted and ongoing effort to enhance our communication with the Australian people and increased links with industry and business, the media, politicians and our alumn.”

Professor Jacobs also joined research-community calls for a 20 per cent collaboration premium for businesses working with universities on research and development. And he advocated a translational fund to build on ARC-funded research, along the lines of the Medical Research Future Fund, nominating; “food, soil and water, transport, energy, the environment, defence, cyber security, manufacturing, history, culture, languages and social structure.”


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