| Media Releases

Murdoch VC Eeva Leinonen becomes new IRU Chair

Vice-Chancellor of Murdoch University Professor Eeva Leinonen has begun a new role as Chair of the Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group for 2019 and 2020.

Professor Leinonen takes up the position from Flinders University VC Colin Stirling who has completed his two year term in the job. The role of IRU Chair rotates among its member Vice-Chancellors.

The IRU Chair plays an important role in shaping the collective direction of the group including being at the forefront of discussions with government ministers on IRU issues.

Commenting, Professor Leinonen said:

“Colin Stirling did a superb job as Chair of the IRU group.  I am both thankful for his work and pleased to be taking over where he left off.

“The 2019 federal election is unusual for the two clearly distinct positions from the Government and the Labor Opposition about how best to support universities over the coming decade in response to a strongly growing school leaver cohort.

“Whoever is Education Minister after the election needs to focus on the need for a coherent tertiary education system that gives all Australians the opportunity and incentive to get the vocational and higher education qualifications, skills and knowledge to which they aspire.

“The IRU will continue to advocate for policies that will secure and enhance the excellence of Australia’s higher education for all its citizens and for the large numbers of international students who choose us.

“Within the IRU there is much to build on as we work together in key areas:

  • improving student and graduate success;
  • delivering first-class research that has real-world benefits;
  • supporting urban regeneration and renewal through our campuses;
  • strengthening our links with Asia and the Pacific region; and
  • improving university services.”
| Funding, Media Releases, Research

MYEFO hits universities with $130m a year funding cut

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) group says universities are facing “another budget horror” after further cuts of $130 million each year were published in MYEFO documents today.

The MYEFO papers state the Government will chop a total of $328.5 out of Research Block Grants over three years from 2019-20. The IRU estimates this is around $130 million, or 6.5%, for each full calendar year.

The new cut will further pile pressure on university research capability, the IRU has warned, coming on top of the current freeze to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme that is the Government’s only support for academic staff’s salary as they research.

The cut to research block grants reduces support for future research students. Assuming universities hold to commitments to current students they will have little choice but to reduce research student enrolments once the cut takes effect, the IRU has said.

MYEFO papers state the money will be “redirected” to other education “portfolio policy priorities” – including the establishment of John Howard Library at Old Parliament House. [See page 169 of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2018-19].

Commenting on the cuts, IRU Executive Director Conor King said:

“The Government portrays MYEFO as a good news story, but it looks like another budget horror for universities.

“Cuts to Research Block Grants are short-sighted and unnecessary, particularly when the overall economic outlook is finally looking better.

“We have the chance to invest now in future capability, not back away from it.”