University cash to pay for national research facilities

Its latest budget reveals that Australia’s government is removing funding from university grants to keep key national research facilities running, writes David Cyranoski for Nature. The nation's 2015-16 annual budget, released on 12 May, was met with concern from university heads who say that they are increasingly uncertain about the sustainability of the tertiary education system after a few years of funding cuts and job losses.

The transfer was made to save the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, which covers 27 facilities employing 1,700 staff, and supports disciplines ranging from astronomy to materials research. Earlier this year, many of the facilities faced closure, but pressure from researchers persuaded the government to provide A$300 million (US$243 million) – enough for another two years of operation.

That cash, the budget shows, will be taken mostly from grants given to universities to pay for indirect costs related to research. They will be cut by A$263 million over the next three years. “Funding research infrastructure by cutting funding to the researchers who use it simply doesn’t make sense,” says Andrew Holmes, president of the Australian Academy of Science.
Full report on the Nature site