Vice-chancellor warns of ‘existential threat’ to universities

The Australian National University vice-chancellor has warned that political interference in research grants poses an “existential threat” to universities, writes Paul Karp for The Guardian.

On Monday 7 February, Professor Brian Schmidt said he was “dismayed” that the education minister had interfered in the awarding of Australian Research Council grants before Christmas, and took aim at both major parties for backing the power to override independent recommendations.

On Christmas Eve the acting minister, Stuart Robert, revealed that the government had nixed six grants for proposed research relating to climate activism and China, prompting a widespread backlash from academics. In his state of the university address, Schmidt said there had only been “four known occurrences of political interference” in the Australian Research Council grant process – three of which were in the last three years. “As things stand, both major parties agree it is appropriate for the minister to wield this power,” he said. “Political interference has bipartisan support. I see this as an existential threat to Australian universities.”
Full report on The Guardian site