[ASC-media] Media release: High-stakes risks on science research funding

Jacinta Legg jacinta.legg at science.org.au
Wed Nov 15 06:31:48 CET 2006


Wednesday, 15 November 2006



High-stakes risks on science research funding


Some universities will be gambling on their future funding in a
high-stakes game based on the new Research Quality Framework (RQF), the
Australian Academy of Science said today.


Under the RQF, announced this week by Federal Science Minister Julie
Bishop, the $600 million in funding available to universities will go to
research groups judged to be the best based on the quality and impact of
their past work. 


This effect will be magnified by the degree to which universities can
maximise their research group expertise through cherry-picking -
recruiting scientists with the best track records.


The Academy's science policy spokesperson Professor Philip Kuchel said:
'The recommended RQF remains short on detail on the relative funding
that will flow to the nation's top researchers, as assessed by quality
and impact ratings.'


He stressed that in the absence of knowledge of the RQF funding formula
and of the overall block grant, some universities will be using merit
and market loadings in a game with very high stakes: 'The RQF process
has in the past year or so had the hidden benefit of encouraging
mobility in the Higher Education System, as universities try to
second-guess the RQF formula by attracting and retaining outstanding
research staff.


'This mobility, including recruitment from overseas, can only increase
in the next few months, following this week's announcement that credit
for research will be attributed to the institution where the researcher
is employed on 31 March 2007.


'The Academy welcomes the consequence, probably inadvertent, of
performance-based remuneration for the nation's best researchers.


'It also agrees with Chief Scientist Dr Jim Peacock that the overall
block grant should be increased to reward research of high quality and



Media enquiries: Jack Docherty 


Tel: (02) 6201-9414   Mob: 0407-262-226   Email:
jack.docherty at science.org.au

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