Science Funding Cuts in Australia


Catriona Wimberley, PhD candidate in medical physics, is studying neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She has written a great piece for SBS News, arguing that in the current political climate, the future direction of scientific research in Australia is bleak. 

Under the Liberal Government, who’s only been in power since September, the Climate Change Commission was disbanded within Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first day in office; the position of Science Minister was scrapped shortly thereafter; and science funding cuts have already hit key centres. This includes $42 million slashed from NICTA, Australia’s Information Communications Technology Research Centre; and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been forced to cut its staff by 25%. 

Catriona notes that Australian Academy of Sciences has stated that Australia’s research innovation is already going backwards. She also notes that Australia’s peak funding body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), funded 16.9% of project applications, which is 3.6% less than last year. She cites a study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) which finds that in 2012 alone, researchers spent the equivalent time of 550 working years on NHMRC grants. Given the low success rate of grants funded, this is considerable time wasted on applications rather than on carrying out research. Yes, science grants are competitive everywhere, but the situation is so dire in Australia that the CEO of NHMRC is encouraging Australian researchers to seek funding and employment elsewhere. Catriona writes:

In the current climate, it is hard to feel that science and scientists will be valued or looked after at all. There are groups trying to address these challenges but if we want to continue our country’s legacy of important scientific breakthroughs, something needs to change.”

16 thoughts on “Science Funding Cuts in Australia

  1. Science is under assault in so many countries. The situation in the US is the most dire it has been in decades with success rates for grants in the single digits. Thanks for publicizing this story, Zuleyka. 


  2. geez love, this is ‘strala…keep your science and your gay marriage where it belongs…we don’t need no edjukashon…we just need a strong and decisive leader who’ll tell us what to think, and when to think it….No, it’s going to be a very long three years of this idiot in charge..and my immediate resort to alcohol does not seem to be working very well.


  3. Thanks for the links Tommy Leung So even under a climate of austerity measures Germany and France were increasing research funding, while Australia, which fared much better during the economic downturn, has continued to decrease funding. This makes me cranky!


  4. Zuleyka Zevallos, yeah it’s tearing-out-hair level of frustrating. It was pretty bad before Abbott came in and now with Abbott, or “George Dubya of ‘Strayla” as I call him, Australia has just spiralled into this tunnel vision mentality of throwing away everything not related to pure unfettered capitalism and maintaining the status quo which benefits the financial elite. Art, science, natural wonders, culture, social justice, human decency – all of which are to be discarded or cannibalised to serve this soulless and ultimately unsustainable end.

    “”All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.”


Comments are closed.