What Tudge wants: the minister’s four messages for universities

The education minister will set out his four big policy direction at today’s Universities Australia conference

Top priority is research commercialisation

The minister’s text states the government’s goal is to “fundamentally shift the dial” so that in a decade Australia resembles Israel, the UK and California “in terms of how our universities interact with business and generate new ideas, new jobs, and new sources of wealth for Australia.”

The speech also repeats Mr Tudge’s concern that research is driven by the incentive for academics to publish rather than, “translating research down the commercialisation path.”

Mr Tudge is expected to mention responses to the discussion paper on research translation, including

* wide support for “stage-gate funding” particularly as used in the US, (CMM March 2).

* industry engagement “to bridge the valley of death between pure research and commercial outcomes”

* a culture of collaboration between universities and industry “as the bedrock for innovation and commercialisation”

And if anybody is looking for an example of what works, Mr Tudge’s speech nominates (the medical research institute formerly known as) the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, “one place I visited where the incentives were strongly aligned towards both pure research and commercialisation.

Mr Tudge will also set a goal for international education in a decade

10 million people studying for Australian qualifications, on-line, in-country and/or hybrid models. “The government wants to support you in these endeavours, where you have real impact and also create new revenue streams.”

And he wants a focus on local students

“In the past several months, I have had almost every vice chancellor talk to me about research and international students, but not many talk to me about their ambitions for Australian students,” his text states.

It calls for “a return to the previous face to face learning where COVID rules allow.”

“I am still hearing from too many students or their parents who tell me that their usual student experience has still not returned.”

Adopt free speech code-or else

While 33 universities are “fully or mostly aligned” to the Robert French free speech code, Mr Tudge will tell the others to get on with it. And if any don’t he will “examine all options available to the Government to enforce it – which may include legislation.”

The minister also wants universities to include statements in annual reports on how they are addressing free speech issues. A template is being developed by the University Chancellors Council, led by Stephen Gerlach of Flinders U.