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Top Australian universities facing exodus of critical researchers: report

(Xinhua)    10:29, September 10, 2020

CANBERRA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has been urged to take "urgent action" to preserve Australia's research talent as universities face a mass exodus of staff.

The Group of Eight (Go8), a coalition of Australia's top eight research-intensive universities, on Wednesday reported that up to 10,000 researchers in areas of national priority are likely to leave Australia for jobs overseas.

According to the report, the eight institutions will lose 2.2 billion Australian dollars (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them unable to re-employ researchers whose contracts are expiring.

It proposed a new government fund "to support and concentrate investment in research excellence as a way to drive the best value for the nation from a taxpayer contribution and boost sovereign capability."

The Go8 universities said their research activity contributes 24.5 billion Australian dollars (17.6 billion U.S. dollars) to the Australian economy.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Go8, said preserving Australia's research talent should be a matter of urgency for the government.

"These recommendations aim to deliver the best research, with the maximum impact for the community and the economy in a cost-effective, transparent and sustainable way," she told News Corp Australia.

"They are deliberately pragmatic and look to future-proof both our research and the nation's research workforce."

The federal government identified national priority research areas seen as critical to Australia's economic development in 2015.

These include artificial intelligence, cyber security, advanced manufacturing, food, soil, water, mental health, space and transport, energy and resources and environment.

"Failure to embark on these reforms will significantly impede Australia's productivity aspirations," Thomson said.

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