Instead of designating an apex university, Malaysia could have gone the Australian way of linking funding to specific research projects and centres of excellence. That means universities would have to compete for funding by proving that they have a worthwhile project or a track record of research excellence. There is nothing like competion to raise standards.
COMPACT agreements between the Commonwealth government and universities that link funding to specific missions will be introduced as part of the Government’s shake up of higher education, research minister Kim Carr said today.
Mr Carr also strongly reiterated his preference to concentrate research in areas of excellence through a hubs-and-spokes model in which universities with expensive research instruments and infrastructure would provide access to other rival universities.
And he rejected the Bradley review’s recommendation that to qualify as a university an institution must carry out research in the fields in which they teach.
“Resources are just too limited for us to fund research in every conceivable area in every conceivable university,” he told the Universities Australia conference in Canberra.
“Given the restraint that is now placed on the budgets of all public institutions it is absolutely vital that we concentrate our effort,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean concentrating (research disciplines) on any one institution, it is about concentrating in disciplines of strength, and it is about ensuring that we get the very best out of the public dollar,” he said.
He said the compact agreements would increase autonomy and diversity in the sector.
“Each university will negotiate a compact with the government defining its particular mission and describing how it can meet the government’s public policy objectives.”