SA risks losing "knowledge edge", Vice-Chancellor warns

Thursday, 24 May 2001

South Australia risks losing its knowledge edge through lack of government funding of higher education, Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mary O'Kane warned today (Thursday 24 May).

Addressing the Institution of Engineers, Australia (South Australia Division) in Adelaide, Professor O'Kane said that at a time when Australia was trying to move towards a knowledge economy it was ironic that governments were reducing investment in universities, the oldest knowledge institutions of all.

She said Australia's universities returned $22 billion to the national economy from a direct investment of $9.1 billion, only half of which came from governments. She detailed the many other ways in which universities contributed to the economy, from their role as knowledge brokers to their provision of education and training for new growth areas, particularly high technology fields.

Professor O'Kane said that under-investment in universities threatened to jeopardise Australia's economic position in the world.

"South Australia is particularly at risk," she said. "This is a State with a knowledge edge, a State with three universities performing above their weight in terms of the research we undertake. But unlike other State Governments, the South Australian Government has not put in the kind of investment we will need to keep our universities at the leading edge."

Professor O'Kane said Australian universities had succeeded in attracting increased support from industry by forming a range of strategic partnerships, both locally and internationally. Adelaide University had been successful in forming partnerships in areas of particular value to South Australia, such as food and wine related research and commercialisation of knowledge, she said.


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