[ASC-media] Media release: Concern over latest Australian Research Council awards

Jacinta Legg jacinta.legg at science.org.au
Wed Oct 11 09:50:11 CEST 2006



AUSTRALIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCE - MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday October 11, 2006


Concern over latest Australian Research Council awards 

Grave concern for the future health and competitiveness of the nation's
scientific research has been voiced by Australian Academy of Science
President Professor Kurt Lambeck in the wake of today's announcement of
the latest Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants.

Despite the fact that an overwhelming number were deemed suitable, only
20 per cent of the 4,033 applications eligible for the $365 million in
grants on offer have been approved. 

The grants support research projects and individual researchers and
teams of researchers and provide opportunities for emerging and
established researchers to do research of national and international
significance.

Professor Lambeck said: 'Only 49 applications were deemed ineligible,
leaving 3,137 potentially solid, viable research proposals out in the
cold.  The situation for Australian research becomes even worse when you
consider that the success rate has dropped by 4.1 per cent compared to
last year's ARC grants.

'The Academy is not advocating smaller allocations to more projects.
This is a wonderful scheme which the Academy fully supports.  But we do
need a recognition by Government at federal and state levels as well as
business and industry that pure and applied scientific research across
all disciplines brings benefits to all Australians - and a consequent
boost in funding from the Federal Government for the ARC grants.

'Indeed, Minister for Education Science and Training Julie Bishop said
today in her statement on the latest grants that "the projects funded
today affect the whole community".' Professor Lambeck added: 'Think of
the huge additional benefit to all Australians if even another 20 per
cent of the unsuccessful projects had received funding.

He pointed out also that the proportion of Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship
research awards within the Discovery grants were seriously
under-represented.  He said: 'This is a major concern for mid-career
scientific researchers, who have to engage in ferocious competition for
this, one of the few sources of major funding available to them.  

'But out of 175 fellowships in all categories for this round, only 50
went to QEII grant applicants - and these researchers are among the
cream of our future scientific crop.  A number of our best people are
increasingly being lured overseas. 

'If the funding situation does not improve, what's now a fast-flowing
trickle will become a flood.'

Media enquiries:

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