From the Vice-Chancellor
Now that the dust has settled after the recent flurry of elections and electioneering, the political process, at least locally, will resume its relentless grind. With Labor's landslide victory now a fact of life, we need to address the ways in which the University continues its interaction with Government.
Governments have a great influence over what universities can do to benefit the wider community. We can only achieve our full potential for success if we have the support of Government.
We have certainly enjoyed a valuable partnership with the Rann Government that is delivering real outcomes of great value, economically and socially, to local, national and international communities. One example is the new Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression that promises to bring significant benefits to mental health in both research and treatment.
The State Government also contributed to the funding of the new Adelaide Proteomics Centre that will help keep the University at the forefront of the fight against cancer. And even more recently, the Premier announced annual funding for a Research Unit in Climate Change to be headquartered here.
At a more local level, we've been pleased to work in partnership with both the State Government and the Adelaide City Council on the North Terrace Redevelopment Project. The upgrade to the frontage of our North Terrace Campus reflects our commitment to engage more with the local community and it's important to have Government support for this.
At Federal and State level, we've benefited from Government input to initiatives like the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, the International Centre of Excellence in Water Resource Management, and a new Wine Innovation Cluster.
These successful partnerships are producing significant positive impacts. However, there are many other ways in which Government, particularly at Federal level, is limiting our effectiveness.
Over-regulation by Government is making it more and more difficult to operate in an entrepreneurial and innovative manner. Endless red tape limits our ability to deliver the outcomes we would like. The pressures this micro-regulation has placed upon us are enormous. This year, 5% of our Federal public funding was at risk if we had not satisfied a raft of Government regulatory requirements, and next year this will rise to 7.5%, along with a further tightening of the rules.
Then there is the proposed Research Quality Framework. There certainly should be a robust mechanism for allocating research funding that ensures quality of outputs are maintained and that allows international comparisons and benchmarking. But it is crucial that the process put in place should be simple and reliable.
The last thing we need is a complex, expensive set of measures that may be neither sufficiently robust nor reliable. We, together with other universities, are making our case to new Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop, and will support her in seeking a good outcome. I would expect no less of a graduate of the University of Adelaide!
It is a time of great change and challenge but, I am happy to say, it's a challenge to which we are rising.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President