Universities’ big chance to be economic policy centre-stage

And the tech uni lobby knows its

The National Reconstruction Fund will not provide grants – but that should allow a core role for universities. The Australian Technology Network  argues the aim of the $15bn investment agency should “further …. economic and social progress” by developing, “research, industrial and skills capacity in partnership with universities.”

To accomplish this it needs to be part of an ecosystem of research funding agencies and programmes. “Universities are key linkers, transformers and translators across the research and development pipeline – we can play a valuable facilitative and generative role in this ecosystem.”

Quite a few agencies. The ATN points to, the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Medical Research Future Fund, Cooperative Research Centres and funding from the Australia’s Economic Accelerator.  It could have also included the Rural Research and Development Corporations, the Defence Science and Technology Group, and even that oft impenetrable fortress of funding, CSIRO

That’s a lot of applied research underway – which leaves basic research in science and HASS rather on the outer for community support and attention.

Certainly the ATN acknowledges, “it is also important that to continue our supply of ideas and expertise to industry and communities a broad range of research is needed, including discovery research and research in the humanities, arts and social sciences which is vital for understanding our world and the people in it.” Good-o but that rather reads as a politely expressed irrelevance to the main game – what it being the last par to the reconstruction fund submission.