Group of Eight chief slams government for presenting “fake data”

Group of Eight CEO Vicki Thomson has slammed the federal government for “data retrofit”. And she assured an audience in the US that “China’s irritation with the Australian Government” does not apply to her members.

In a speech on “fake data” at a Boston conference overnight Ms Thomson attacked the government, “unlike governments elsewhere” for seeing universities as a cost, “rather than the investment they are.”

“This is odd, given the available data showing that, to the contrary, universities in general – and Go8 universities in particular – should be seen as powerhouses underpinning many aspects of the Australian economy and prosperity. “

Ms Thomson also accused the government of presenting “fake data” by quoting statistics from a Deloitte Access report on university funding to show universities “swimming in cash from teaching, but not including the costs of research.”

“This was quite deliberate.  And it is the data sleight of hand we are sadly becoming used to from politicians.

“Ostensibly created to help ‘inform the government on decisions regarding the appropriate level of funding for higher education institutions’, the report was instead used to score political points against the sector in a manner contrary to the explicit recommendations of Deloitte itself.”

Ms Thomson also assured the conference, organised by ranking agency QS, that the Group of Eight has data that makes for strong relationships in China.

“The Go8 encounters no trouble gaining visas to visit China, is much welcomed, and we in turn very much value our well-established relationships with China’s C9 Universities, its Ministry of Education and the China Scholarship Council.

With five of our VCs, I have recently returned from a very productive ten days there, during which the data we had and could speak to, was at the core of every meeting.

It is vital data which gives the Go8 an evidence-based foundation. And that is critical to who we are, and how we are perceived in China, and of course also at home, and in all other markets where we have a presence.”



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