According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, universities have increased their expenditure on research by four per cent, up from $12.2 billion in 2018 to $12.7 billion in 2020. They contribute more than 36 per cent to Australia’s total R&D effort.
Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Peter Chesworth said the increase in investment demonstrated the commitment of universities to drive Australia’s prosperity, competitiveness, wellbeing and contribution to the global knowledge frontier.
“Universities have continued to make an important contribution to the Australian community through research – changing lives and solving the nation’s biggest challenges,” Mr Chesworth said.
“The fact that research is an economic driver is a no brainer – every dollar invested in higher education research and development returns $5 to the economy.”
Universities undertake 90 per cent of the nation’s basic research – which creates new knowledge and ideas.
“The quality and competitiveness of Australia’s research is determined by the strength of its pipeline, from the vital foundational research delivered by universities to the translation, investment and collaboration with industry that ensures this new knowledge benefits all Australians,” Mr Chesworth said.
In 2020, 53.2 per cent of university expenditure on R&D was funded from internal university resourcing, while 30.7 per cent was funded from Australian Government grants. The remaining 16.1 per cent was funded from other sources including state and local governments, business and philanthropic donations.
“We acknowledge the government’s recognition of the vital importance of research through a one-off $1 billion injection at a very crucial time – this saved jobs and research capacity,” Mr Chesworth said.
“Encouragingly, we have seen a 15.5 per cent increase in funding sourced from business.”
“The stronger our collaboration is with business, the bigger the economic and social benefits for the nation. We know that if Australia lifts investment in university R&D by just one per cent, the economy would be $24 billion bigger over 10 years.”
“Importantly, the data shows the slowest growth in university expenditure on research since 1992 – highlighting the impact of the pandemic on the sector.”
“Universities are committed to continue working with government and industry to determine how we best support and commercialise great Australian research, now and into the future.”
View the latest ABS data here.