Programme 2.6 Research Capacity

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Research advances our knowledge and drives our potential for innovation, as it shapes economic competitiveness and social wellbeing. The objectives of Programme 2.6 are to increase the production, use and awareness of research knowledge through promoting a strong culture of collaboration and networking. This will generate new knowledge, world-class research and a highly trained workforce through more industry-ready graduates, support higher education and research infrastructure, and raise awareness of the importance of research and promoting scholarship across all fields of study.

Programme 2.6 components contribute to achieving the programme objectives through:

  • promoting a strong culture of collaboration and networking across and between universities, research institutes, government and industry
  • providing major research infrastructure in a framework that is strategic, national and collaborative, through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)
  • facilitating and supporting science and research cooperation and strategic alliances with international partners for the benefit of all Australians through increased participation in, and access to, leading scientific research globally.

Research determines our potential for innovation and our capacity to access and benefit from advancing knowledge as it shapes economic competitiveness and social changes.

Government funding supports research infrastructure and helps to raise awareness of the importance of research and promoting scholarships across all fields of study, including the efforts that promote an increase in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Support for research infrastructure

The NCRIS network is designed to provide Australia’s research sector with ongoing access to high quality, national scale research infrastructure. This will ensure that Australian research continues to undertake world-class research and rank highly internationally.

The Australian Government’s investment of $300 million at the 2015–16 Budget in the NCRIS network will continue to enable over 35,000 researchers to access the latest facilities and expertise until June 2017. The network consists of 27 active projects delivered through 222 institutions employing well over 1700 technical experts, researchers and facility managers.

The Minister for Education and Training commissioned a research infrastructure review in November 2014 to advise the Australian Government on future national scale research infrastructure needs and provision to support research. The Review commenced its work in December 2014 and will report to Government in September 2015.

Support for research collaboration

The Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) programme encourages less research-intensive, smaller and regional higher education institutions to develop their research capacity by teaming up with other institutions in areas of common research interest. These collaborations generate new knowledge (publications), generate new partnerships with other institutions (both private and public), develop career researchers (post-doctorates and fellowships) and train higher degree students.

Support for collaborations between the Australian Public Service and the research community

The Government has enhanced research collaboration through its investment in a strategic relationship with the Australian National University (ANU) through creation of new public policy institutes that have strengthened the links between the Australian Public Service (APS), academia and the broader community and ensures that the APS is well equipped to tackle future policy challenges through evidence-based public policy.

The National Security College, which provides courses for national security agencies, received funding under the strategic relationship and will continue to receive funding until the end of 2018–19.

Higher Education and Research Promotion

Higher Education and Research Promotion supports Australia’s Learned Academies and the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science to increase awareness of the importance of research and to promote research and scholarship in science, social science, and the humanities.

Australia’s four Learned Academies and the Australian Council of Learned Academies, the peak coordinating body, continue to deliver high-level policy inputs, science and education training and extension activities. Detailed information about the wide range of activities undertaken during the year is available at the following websites:

Science and Research Priorities

The Commonwealth Science Council was established and held its inaugural meeting in November 2014 and its second meeting in April 2015. The Science Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, brings together the Minister for Education and Training, the Minister for Industry and Science, the Minister for Health, Australia’s Chief Scientist and ten eminent scientists and business people, to provide advice on strategies to ensure Australia’s science and research efforts are targeted to deliver the best results for the nation. On 26 May 2015, following the recommendation of the Science Council, the Government announced new national Science and Research Priorities to help ensure our world-class science and research efforts reflect the needs of industry, the national economy and the community. The nine cross-disciplinary priorities are food, soil and water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, advanced manufacturing, environmental change and health.

Performance Information

Table 11: Programme 2.6 Research Capacity performance information
Key Performance Indicators Estimate Actual
Improved research performance of less research intensive universities
Number of research institutions supported by the Collaborative Research Networks programme 15 15
Number of partnerships supported by the Collaborative Research Networks programme 23 23
Increased number of participants in activities promoting research-based careers
Number of attendees participating in activities promoting research awareness 54,110 54,000
Increased access to research infrastructure to facilitate and support collaborative research activities
Number of research infrastructure projects established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to offer services to the research sector 27 27
Number of institution-based research infrastructure projects supported through the Budget or Education Investment Fund competitive rounds over time 5 5
National Security College training courses
Number of Commonwealth participants in National Security College courses 150 80

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