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ARC review outcomes announced – ‘Welcome news’

4 Sep 2023 12:03 PM | Anonymous
  • Front cover of the Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001 The Government’s response to the Final Report of the Independent Review panel: Trusting Australia’s Ability: Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001, was released on 20 August 2023.

    “The report is very welcome news,” said AIP President Nicole Bell.

    “The Government intends to implement all the key recommendations of the ARC review, including changes that the Australian Institute of Physics advocated for.”

    The ARC’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms Judi Zielke PSM, said in a media release that the final report is a strong endorsement of the role and positive impact the ARC has had on Australia’s research capability over the last 20 years.

    It affirms the broader reform schedule the ARC is already undertaking to restore stakeholder trust and drive excellent research for the advancement of all Australians.

    “The Government’s response to the review confirms the ARC’s role in underpinning and shaping the national research landscape.

    It will define in legislation our role in supporting basic and strategic basic research as well as applied research, research integrity, evaluation of the excellence, quality and impact of research in Australian universities, and the development of researchers through their career progression.”

    “There is significant work already underway at the ARC to address the recommendations that do not require legislative change, such as those relating to grant guidelines improvements and reduction of administrative burden for researchers, universities and partners.

    We are also consulting with Indigenous researchers regarding the establishment of an ARC Indigenous Forum,” Ms Zielke said.

    Australian Academy of Science President Professor Chennupati Jagadish said in a media release that the underlying theme of the review is that of trust with a strong emphasis on the critical role of the ARC in Australia’s research system.

    “The role of the ARC, its leadership and the execution of its functions should reflect our aspirations for the research landscape, for research excellence and how they can best support our national ambitions,” Professor Jagadish said.

    “The recommendations in the review provide a strong basis to support this purpose and the ongoing effectiveness of the ARC.

    “The Academy welcomes the recommendation that the commitment to funding basic research should be incorporated into the ARC’s purpose under the Act.

    “The Academy views this as important to safeguard fundamental research that grows our knowledge base.”

    The Academy also endorsed several other noteworthy recommendations to:

  • restore the ARC Board and populate it with members with the right combination of skills and experience
  • discontinue Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) and modernise ARC capacity and requirements for data collection and analysis
  • streamline National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP) guidelines to reflect international best practice and reduce the administrative burden on academic and research organisations.

Professor Jagadish said the focus of ministerial discretion on the NCGP guidelines and funding available, rather than on individual grants, would place the recommendations and approvals in the hands of the people with the expertise to assess their merit.

“It is positive to see the recommendations to advance Indigenous Australians in research and recognition of the impact of the ARC on attracting and retaining research talent,” Professor Jagadish said.

The Report and the Government’s response can be found at: Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001 - Department of Education, Australian Government.

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