Among other important points here, Prabhu Guptara asks that we think about the funding issue. _____________
I have held fire till now because I am not clear about how best to
It seems to me that HES members need to engage with the three concerns
presented by Tim Sealey.
1a. What is the best way of dealing with the ABS's concern to reduce
'research projects classified as "other not elsewhere classified"'.
They have chosen (as I understand it) to eliminate such research
projects from the classification of Economics. The question then is:
where have they put these research projects? Have they eliminated them
entirely or have they put these research projects under "History" or
what? We need to have the facts on this before we can intervene
effectively in relation to this first concern.
1b. Sealey says that the areas which have been thus eliminated in the
case of economics "in some areas represented a significant proportion of
the research effort". If so, what are the other areas that have been
eliminated? Are they more "significant" than HE? If so, can we make
common cause with them? Or are we better served by arguing for HE on
its own? We need some facts here, and perhaps Aussie colleagues can
winkle out some of the facts that we need?
2. What is the best way for the ABS classification system to mesh with
international systems? Someone needs to look at the OECD system (which
he cites) so that we can determine if that is where the problem lies.
Does the OECD system also need to be challenged? Who created the OECD
system? When? What have been the effects of the OECD system on
research funding? Again, we need facts to be able to argue cogently....
3a. What is the best way of limiting "the inclusion of non-active areas
of research"? Sealey says that they have used what he calls an
"economic measure" but when he mentions "$250k" it is clear that he
means a "financial measure" (do apparently well-qualified statisticians
employed by the Australian Government really not know the difference
between "economics" and "finance"?). Anyway, the question is: can an
argument be produced for suggesting that 250K is not an appropriate
figure? (that argument would work in the case of HE only if we knew
that the amount of research funding for HE in Australia was, for
example, 249K or 240K or 201K... - in which case the argument could be
that the decision, since marginal, should be reversed on the basis of
other considerations. This approach can only work when we have facts
regarding the level of funding for HE in Australia - can someone in
Australia help with this too, please?)
3b. Sealey does say that the "figure decided upon was $250k with some
flexibility for rapid growth areas or areas of significant importance
that did not meet the (financial)
benchmark". In relation to this, our argument ought to be that HE is
"an area of significant importance that does not need to meet the
financial benchmark". However, since this is only the third argument
presented by him, I take it that this is the least effective way of
proceeding? Of course it could be that this is the only recourse we
have but, at present, I do not have enough facts on the basis of which
to evaluate that....
As each person can, usually, only take one "shot" at this matter, do let
us make sure that, when we enlist others to the cause, we are able to
direct their "shots" to best advantage.
I await guidance on the issue and am happy to intervene in whatever way
will serve HE most effectively.