Speech to the Go8 Excellence in India Research Showcase and Strategy Launch

Speech
  • Minister for Education and Training

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

Simon Birmingham: Thank you, thank you very much Peter. And in fact we are far later than most of you have any appreciation for because there was actually a meeting scheduled between the conclusion of the event of the two prime ministers and arriving here. And that event hasn’t seen me at all and has been rescheduled to sometime later tonight for that meeting. But traffic issues aside, what we can take great positivity and heart from – and which I’m probably not meant to say publicly – but I think it can only be a good sign when the prime ministers of two nations end up spending an hour, hour and a half more than scheduled in their one on one bilateral discussions because that was a reasonable factor, I think, in terms of why Peter and I were a little late but a very positive factor in terms of the obvious depth and warmth of the engagement between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Turnbull.

Peter, to you as current chair of Go8, other vice-chancellors. And Professor Jacobs, I was thrilled to hear of the financial contribution that you have pledged to Australian Government funding towards further research collaboration with India. Of course, it’s very generous of the University of New South Wales to commit its Australian Government funding towards joint ventures with India and I’m very thrilled that you’re taking $200 million of the funding that we give you to acquire such a wonderful cause.

[Laughter]

But I am, in all seriousness, delighted to join you all for the launch of Excellence in India. And we speak about research we – on the policy side, university administrators – apply a lot of different buzz words to how we look at research at times. Excellence, I see blasted across the Go8 banners there, being one of those words and we assess excellence in a range of other ways and words like translation come through in that sense. And of course in an academic sense you think of translation in an appropriately academic way. How it is that research is translated through in terms of application and ultimately impact. But in a public policy sense it’s equally important that research is translated in a way where people appreciate the benefits of it, the benefits of the engagement from research, understand where it is that those public dollars are being invested and the type of benefits and difference that is being made as a result of that public investment. And a publication like this highlighting, providing a snapshot of just some of the elements of research undertaken is a really valuable and important way of translation of research activity into things that journalists, policy makers, politicians, the public can appreciate, can understand, can truly conceive of the benefits in their lives. And we see, as it rolls through the screen there picking up snapshots of some of the different research projects in this booklet, many different examples that you know can and will make a difference to ultimately millions of lives in terms of the types of benefits flowing through to health practices, to hygiene practices, to agricultural practices, to energy practices, to a whole range of different fields and disciplines that of course benefit from these types of breakthroughs.

We are very pleased, thrilled as a government, to shine a spotlight on this delegation and this visit on the strength of the research engagement and collaboration and partnership between Australia and India. Because when we talk about educating and training, much focus is put upon the two way mobility of students and that of course is critical and that builds a whole lot of other opportunities that we seek to leverage. But it’s not the totality of the story. The totality of the story is a much, much richer one. It’s enriched by the activities that many universities and training institutions do engage in country. You come to India and engage in a range of ways in the delivery of education and training services. But it is, of course, also engaged very much by the research undertaking that occurs between research institutions that are publicly funded and in Australia and publicly funded research institutions in India, private partners in both countries, and indeed private and public partners from many third and fourth and fifth country partners as well who collaborate on these types of projects.

We’re thrilled, through the Government, to support the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund – some $60 million of investment that’s banked in around 240 different collaborative research projects, workshops and activities to help harness and enrich the relationship we have between our countries on a research footing. Those activities have involved around 100 universities and research institutions across our two countries and I’m thrilled that today, I understand, Ministers Bishop and Sinodinos have announced further rounds of funding in relation to the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. It of course is just part of the totality of collaborative ventures that sees more than 400 different research undertakings between our countries and I’m sure that that is just the tip of the iceberg when I think about the investment and activity that many of our great universities and research institutions are putting into further building their activity and presence here in India and into further welcoming Indian business and research activities in universities into activities in Australia.

So my sincere congratulations to Go8 on driving this publication. But more importantly to the researchers and those who have backed them across our universities, private partners, funding partners because it is these types of activities that will ensure Australia’s relationship with India is much deeper, much stronger, much more successful and much more diverse for many, many years to come. Thank you and well done.

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