Programme 3.6 Research Capacity

Research advances our knowledge and drives our potential for innovation, as it shapes economic competitiveness and social wellbeing. The objectives of Programme 3.6 are to increase the production, use and awareness of research knowledge through promoting a strong culture of collaboration and networking that 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 3.6 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.

Science and research determine 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.

Programme 3.6 items are specifically as follows.

Support for research infrastructure

The NCRIS supports major research infrastructure to encourage collaboration between the research sector, industry and government in Australia to conduct world-class research.

The NCRIS is designed to provide Australia’s research sector with ongoing access to high-quality, operational research infrastructure facilities. This will ensure that Australian research continues to be competitive and rank highly on an international scale.

The Australian Government’s investment in research infrastructure enables over 30,000 researchers to access world-leading equipment and facilities. The network consists of 13 capabilities and 27 active projects; and employs over 1500 technical experts, researchers and facility managers in 222 institutions.

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, will be establishing an Expert Advisory Committee to look at the current NCRIS arrangements as well as future needs during 2014—15.

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, inspecting equipment at the Victorian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.
The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education, inspecting equipment at the Victorian node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

Support for research collaboration

The Collaborative Research Network ( 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. The CRN programme is subject to a mid-term evaluation to assess its performance against its objectives. The evaluation will be completed by the end of 2014.

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 several new public policy institutes. The relationship has brought together these new institutes with ANU’s existing public policy expertise and an enhanced Canberra presence of the Australian and New Zealand School of Government ( ANZSOG). The relationship has 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 strategic relationship encompasses the following elements:

  • the Australian National Institute of Public Policy (the enhanced Crawford School of Public Policy), which provides public policy courses targeted at the APS
  • the Australian Centre on China in the World, which conducts research in China studies
  • the National Security College, which provides courses for national security agencies
  • the HC Coombs Policy Forum, which provides research-based policy advice to the APS
  • the Sir Roland Wilson PhD Scholarships for APS employees
  • facilities for National Security College, the ANZSOG and the Australian Centre on China in the World.

Support for increased awareness of science and research in the community

The Conversation

The Government contributed funds to building the sustainable operation of The Conversation website and the promotion of a national and international dialogue about science, research and innovation policy issues. The Conversation is a not-for-profit company that delivers analysis, commentary and news sourced from the university and research sector, free to the public.

The Higher Education and Research Promotion

The 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 promote research and scholarship in science, social science, and the humanities in Australia.

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

Feature Story

Innovative approaches to research training

Undertaking a higher degree by research is not for the faint hearted. A doctorate degree involves at least three years of research in a discrete subject area under the guidance of an academic supervisor.

This traditional approach originated as a way for universities to build their workforce through what is effectively a research ’apprenticeship’. Historically it has been focused on training talented graduates to become academics. However, given that less than half of today’s research graduates are employed in the higher education sector, there is a clear need for other models that prepare students for research and other careers outside academia.

Some institutions, including universities, cooperative research centres, medical institutes and industry bodies, have already taken steps in this direction. To gain a better understanding of these new and emerging approaches, the department undertook a project involving case studies of 15 initiatives and surveys of the students involved in them. The results showed that these initiatives, including industry placements and targeted courses, support students to gain a broader range of knowledge, skills and industry experience than typically acquired during a research degree. For example, one student stated, ‘I have not spent my entire PhD hunkered in a university lab and have more transferable skills for future research.’

The final report, Initiatives to Enhance the Professional Development of Research Students, has been published on the department’s website at www.education.gov.au/research-training.

Performance information

Table 16: Programme 3.6 Research Capacity performance information

Support for research infrastructure

Deliverables 2013—14
estimate
2013—14
actual
Value of funding for research infrastructure ($’000) 191,539 148,200

Support for research collaboration

Deliverables 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Value of funding for Collaborative Research Networks ($’000) 10,400 10,400

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

Deliverables 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Value of funding for Commonwealth–ANU Strategic Relationship ($’000) 4,200 4,200

Support for increased awareness of science and research in the community

Deliverables 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Value of funding to increase awareness of science and research in the community ($’000) 9,993 6,289a

Improved research performance of less research-intensive universities

Key performance indicators 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Number of research institutions supported Collaborative Research Networks 15 15
Number of fields of research at or above the world class standard for these institutions 20 20

Expansion of partnerships between the Australian Public Service and the research community

Key performance indicators 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Number of participants in courses and activities conducted under the banner of the Australian National Institute for Public Policy 2,400
Number of HC Coombs Policy Forum activities 44

Increased access to research infrastructure to facilitate and support collaborative research activities

Key performance indicators 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Number of research infrastructure projects established under the Super Science Initiative to offer services to the research sector over time 24 24
Number of institution-based research infrastructure projects supported through the Budget or Education Investment Fund competitive rounds over time 24 26

Increased number of projects reporting strengthened international collaborative relationships and research outcomes

Key performance indicators 2013—14 estimate 2013—14 actual
Number of research outputs produced by the Australian Centre on China in the World under the ANU Strategic Relationshipb - 111
Number of facilities collaborating in European Molecular Biology Laboratory partner facility 5 5

a The revision reflects the result of the 18 September and 3 October 2013 Administrative Arrangements Orders, where responsibility for Higher Education Research Promotion was transferred to the Department of Education.
b This indicator has been changed from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education 2013–14 Portfolio Budget Statements to allow meaningful reporting of the measure.