Submission to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee

Submission to the Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023 inquiry

The ARC Review has provided a generational opportunity to reform the ARC to support a high-performing, diverse Australian research sector and reject ideological interference. ATSE has engaged throughout the ARC Review, including by providing a submission in December 2022 outlining how the ARC should be strengthened, supported and legislated to be a national leader in research grant funding. ATSE is a supporter of a two-stage research application process to maximise efficiency of the sector.

The Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023 will enable implementation of six of the ARC Review’s ten recommendations. ATSE notes that the Australian Government has committed to the other outcomes of the review, such as simplifying application processes and re-evaluating how research excellence and engagement are quantified.

These important changes to the ARC will enable it to be the backbone of Australian academic research. However, this review has not addressed critically low levels of investment in research. Alongside the ARC and Universities Accord reforms, ATSE urges the Australian Government to also increase its investment in research to reach an internationally competitive level of at least 3% of GDP.

ATSE broadly endorses the Bill. In addition to the recommendations put forth in the joint submission with all Learned Academies, ATSE makes the following recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the ARC:

Recommendation 1: Require the ARC Advisory Committee to provide oversight and coordination of the ARC’s priorities to align with the National Science and Research Priorities.

Recommendation 2: Increase research investment through the ARC in the upcoming Federal Budget, as part of a strategy to raise research and development funding to 3% of GDP.

Recommendation 3: Require the ARC Board to include members with experience in industry research as well as university research.

Recommendation 4: Define “misbehaviour” to include findings of bullying or harassment through formal processes.