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University funding boost will create a smarter and stronger Australia

The Gillard Government’s more generous indexation arrangements will inject an extra $367 million over the next four years to help universities meet the cost of quality research and training.

The Gillard Government will invest a total of $1.63 billion in research and research training in Australia’s higher education sector under this year’s university block grant funding allocation.

“Investing in researchers and innovators, and providing support for Australian universities, is fundamental in building a stronger and smarter Australia,” Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans said.  “This investment will fund cutting edge research in fields like cancer, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

The number of Commonwealth supported postgraduate places has doubled over the last four years to 33,000 in 2011. Government has also met its commitment to double the number of Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) which provides support to outstanding research students.

“This investment will produce the innovators and researchers who will support a prosperous nation, provide new opportunities, and answer the big questions of today and tomorrow,” Senator Evans said. “While we are investing record amounts in our universities and supporting our researchers, we need to ensure that their work translates into benefits for Australians, by pushing the innovation down into Australian industries.

“The year 2012 marks an exciting new stage in building the essential links between Australian industry and universities.  The Joint Research Engagement (JRE) – Engineering Cadetships will encourage cadets studying in the engineering or science disciplines to undertake a combination of formal research training in the form of a PhD or research Masters at a university and R&D activities within a firm.

“This is a new element of the JRE scheme, which is providing funding of $339 million to Australian universities in 2012. JRE is specifically designed to encourage and support collaborative research activities between universities and industry. “The Government is committed to supporting public sector research that drives excellence, collaboration and diversity and to training Australia’s research workforce, which will ensure we have a skilled and smarter economy,” Senator Evans said. 

Research Block Grants (six schemes – over $1.6 billion in 2012)

Research Training Scheme (RTS)

The largest of the block grants ($643.5 million). RTS is provided to support research training for students undertaking research doctorate and research masters degrees.

 Sustainable Research Excellence (SRE) in universities initiative ($163.5 million)

SRE was announced in the 2009 Budget. It helps address an identified shortfall in funding of indirect costs associated with Australian Competitive Grant research and supports universities to build and maintain research excellence.

Access to 80 per cent of SRE funding is conditional on universities participating in Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) and Transparent Costing (TC), which identifies indirect costs of research at individual universities. Funding for SRE is being progressively increased.  By 2013-14 SRE will provide ongoing, indexed funding of more than $334 million. 

Joint Research Engagement (JRE) ($339 million)

JRE designed to encourage greater collaboration between universities and the business and non-government research sectors.  The JRE – Engineering Cadetships ($1.32 million), a new initiative from 2012, supplements the research training costs of higher degree by research students undertaking a cadetship in areas of engineering or science. 

Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) ($236.6 million)

APA supports the training of higher degree by research students. Scholarships are awarded by institutions to students to assist with students’ general living costs. This year the government is meeting its commitment to double the number of APAs by 2012. 

Research Infrastructure Block Grants (RIBG) ($228.7 million) scheme

Helps institutions meet the costs incurred when carrying out research projects supported by nationally competitive research granting programs. 

International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS) ($21.1 million)

The scholarship supports training of international higher degree by research students. 330 new scholarships are supported each year.

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