WA unis fall short in research grants

22/10/2008 - 22:00

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THE latest round of national research grants has highlighted the University of Western Australia's status as the state's premier research institution, though the grants also indicate that WA as a whole has not performed well.

THE latest round of national research grants has highlighted the University of Western Australia's status as the state's premier research institution, though the grants also indicate that WA as a whole has not performed well.

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister Senator Kim Carr announced last week that $363 million of funding would be provided for 1,103 research projects under the latest Australian Research Council (ARC) funding round.

Universities in WA were awarded just $20.9 million, or 5.7 per cent of the total.

UWA accounted for most of this, being awarded a total of $14.9 million.

UWA is a member of the Group of 8 universities, a group of Australia's oldest and wealthiest universities, which traditionally dominates research funding. The G8 universities gained the lion's share of research grants, about 75 per cent.

The distribution of ARC research grants in WA show that Curtin runs a distant second, followed by Murdoch.

The research funding is awarded under four programs, with the largest being the Discovery Projects program.

This is meant to lead to major discoveries in the areas of environmental sustainability, promoting good health, enhancing 'frontier' technologies for Australian industry, and safeguarding Australia.

The second major program is the Linkage Projects, which encourages collaborative research between universities and other organisations, including industry.

Nearly half of the grants under this program are designed to improve conditions in regional and rural communities, through research on issues such as health, environment and agriculture.

UWA received $3.1 million for eight Linkage projects.

As a result, the green light has been given to a collaboration with the Water Corporation, which will develop a framework for risk assessment and identifying areas suitable for extracting groundwater

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