Review of research policy and funding arrangements for higher education

In its submission to the Department of Education and Training on the review of research policy and funding arrangements for higher education, the MCA seeks greater input by industry into the Research Block Grant (RBG) funding distribution process. Under the current funding model, the actual impact of research is not a current measure, despite a clear preference and financial commitment to applied research and experimental development. The MCA believes that the actual impact of research must become a primary measure of research quality within RBG’s. Industry input into the RBG distribution process will ensure greater recognition for applied research, experimental development, and research impact.

Rewarding universities for applied research and experimental development will also encourage greater collaboration with industry and provide researchers with opportunities to obtain more relevant industry research training. Impact must be a consideration in any publicly funded research in higher education in Australia, and must be incorporated into the Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) measure to acknowledge the explicit contribution of the research to society.

The MCA is supportive of initiatives that provide opportunities to develop academic links with industry, increase career development opportunities for students, and enhance their understanding of the mining value chain. Current professional career development opportunities for HDR students are mixed, with few universities offering collaborative-business partnership opportunities. The MCA believes professional development opportunities for HDR students should be consistent across the academic spectrum in the form of a nationally consistent model. Professional development should also be mandated on HDR programs with a prescribed minimum number of hours.

The UK Government’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership, currently being trailed by the Queensland Government, offers a tested and proven model in developing meaningful R&D opportunities between businesses, universities and meaningful HDR industry-training. Such a model, on a national scale, would greatly benefit HDR students and recent graduates (as well as businesses and universities) and create greater innovative dividends from research.

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