CORE submission to the ARC review of National Competitive Grants Program

In 2024, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Australian Government Department of Education initiated a policy review of research schemes within the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). This review aimed to assess several aspects, including the purpose and impact of ARC research grants, the structure and design of the NCGP, alignment with other government research funding programs, support for a diverse research sector, Indigenous Australian research and researchers, and alignment with national research priorities.

A small working group of CORE (Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia) members, comprising 11 academics, was established to discuss the Policy review discussion paper and questions and then to formulate a draft response on behalf of the Computer Science research community in Australia. We are delighted to learn that Associate Professor Ashad Kabir in the Charles Sturt School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering was part of that working group. The group discussed the policy review discussion paper and its accompanying questions, and then formulated a draft response on behalf of CORE.CORE membership was asked for further input into the draft, and then a final submission approved by the CORE executive. A Prof Kabir contributed to the policy review discussions and drafting of the submission with a specific focus on emphasizing the perspectives of regional universities within the current NCGP. One of the key suggestions highlighted in the submission is:

“NCGP grant programs should ensure equitable access for universities and teams with limited internal funding, small research environments, and regional locales, while also supporting collaborations with regional universities in assessment criteria to address disparities in funding between urban and regional institutions”

This recommendation reflects a commitment to fostering equity and inclusivity within the research funding landscape, particularly for institutions and researchers operating in less affluent or geographically isolated areas, like CSU. It underscores the importance of acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges faced by regional universities in accessing research funding and resources. This emphasis on inclusivity not only aligns with broader efforts to promote diversity within the research sector but also underscores the vital role that regional universities play in advancing knowledge and innovation. Future policy informed by such recommendations stands to foster a more inclusive and robust research ecosystem, where talent and expertise from all corners of the country can contribute meaningfully.