This from a speech by Brian Schmidt – physics Nobel laureate:
Industry engagement is a long-held conundrum for ANU. The CSIRO Black Mountain facility is on our back doorstep. Combining our campuses, making joint appointments and having joint scientific projects would make both groups stronger, and would instantly help bring a culture of innovation to ANU, as well as bring our vast expertise to CSIRO.
The CSIRO, however, is not industry. It is a government agency.
Read the entire speech – there you will see one of the biggest problems facing the Australian university system. The notion that research must be funded by government as an entitlement. Quite ironic actually; the intent of the privately funded Nobel prize is to encourage research.
This notion that research should only be undertaken at universities with government funding does not serve the taxpayers well. Only 4.6 per cent of innovative firms use universities to source ideas. I’m not surprised. The equivalent number for government agencies is 3 per cent – so collboation with the CSIRO adds less value to the economy than collaborating with the ANU. Probably unfair, those numbers are just averages and the ANU and CSIRO are above-average organisations, blah, blah, blah. Yes, I know. The numbers are a hard reality for people wedded to the notion that government funding must drive research. I can’t find it in the latest ABS report but previously the ABS had reported that that employing a new graduate was the single largest technique innovating firms used when acquiring knowledge from an Australian university. But what does Brian Schmidt want to do:
We should decrease our student numbers and select a diverse and excellent student population based on a combination of interviews and ATAR entry scores.
Make less of a contribution to the economy than it currently does?