Go8 Media Release: Go8 says ‘horses for courses’ training essential for PhDs

1 Sep 2015

Responding to the Federal Government’s review of Australia’s research training system, the Group of Eight (Go8) is keen to ensure that there can be no falling into the trap of thinking there is an overarching one size fits all approach to training Australia’s PhDs.

“They are our academic workforce future. They will drive our national and global economies through their essential involvement in research with industry and business. Vitally, they are the researchers who will deliver us our future through discovery,” says Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson. “They are therefore many, many
different things. They cannot, and must not, be lumped into one grouping for the purposes of training.”

Ms Thomson said there needed to be a sophisticated approach to research training that enabled Australia to deliver the very best researchers for their choice of future employment. “To do anything less is to let them down, and our nation down,” she said.

“Australia is now lagging behind the UK and Europe where there are some highly successful and comprehensive targeted PhD training programs; especially in the area of industry engaged researchers,” she said. “We must get ourselves back into contention and stay abreast of what is required in such a globally
competitive global marketplace where our PhDs must operate.

The Go8 was also particularly keen for the review to better understand how it can deliver researchers who can benefit small companies. “It seems to be forgotten that while large businesses are important engines for research and development and innovation in Australia, organisations with 200 or more employees make up less than 1% of Australian businesses,” said Ms Thomson.

“Meanwhile small companies with four or fewer employees represent 88% of Australian business but currently undertake only 5% of research and development. That must change and surely we can help that change occur by targeted training for PhDs?”

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472