Funding fears for Australian research

It is feared that humanities and social sciences in Australia could lose significant funding following the recent change of federal government.

The Liberal-National Coalition led by former Rhodes scholar Tony Abbott, who recently won the country’s general election, said it would carry out an audit of what it described as “increasingly ridiculous research grants” funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Coalition figures gave four examples of “ridiculous projects, including a Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology study looking into how public art could allow people to adapt to climate change and an ARC project examining the meaning of “I” through the study of 18th and 19th century German existentialists.

The coalition proposed to “reprioritise” A$103m (£60m) of ARC funding to where it is “really needed”. They have also declined to reverse Labor’s A$2.3bn (£1.3bn) cut to higher education.

Academics in the humanities faculty at the University of Adelaide were warned via email not to speak to the media about the cuts.

The email, sent by two heads of school and an executive dean, warned that there was a “very real potential to undermine the faculty’s capacity to attract new students” if the media highlighted the cuts. It continued by saying lower enrolments would “make matters worse”.

The Australian reported that the university denied there would be any course cuts and that in fact new courses would be introduced.

However, several academics claimed proposals for new courses had been declined and that there appeared to be a clear “climate of cutting” in the faculty.

Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)