Go8 Submission to the Foreign Policy White Paper

3 Mar 2017

The Group of Eight (Go8) support the development of a comprehensive engagement framework recognising the key pillars that will underpin Australia's international engagement and promote our role within a broader, global context. We welcome the opportunity to contirbute to this process and look forward to being activiely involved in further consultations and conversations.

Please note this submission represents the views of the Go8 network. Member universities may also make their own, more detailed submissions.

The Go8 represents Australia's eight leading, research intensive universities. As a collective we:

  • Are consistently the highest ranked Australian universities across the major international ranking systems (ARWU, THES, and QS);
  • Had 99% of our research ranked as world class or above in ERA in 2015;
  • Educated one in three international students who chose to come to Australia to study higher education in 2015;
  • Spend around $6 billion per year on research, and receive over 60% of NHMRC competitive funding grants;
  • Have educated 79% of the Australian-educated CEOs of the nation's top companies; and
  • Have educated 83% of Australia's ambassadors and high commissioners.

As such, the Go8 plays a multifaceted and significant role in Australia's international relationships and international standing, through our role in educating students who come to Australia to pursue higer education studies; our strong research collaborations with key international organisations; and our membership of key global groups, such as the Global Research Intensive Universities network, which have the potential to provide a strong voice to inform policy perspectives internationally. These are further explored below, along with their contributon to the specific questions raised in the Call for Public Submissions paper.

Summary and Recommendations

International engagement has become a fundamental hallmark of a successful, 21st century economy. It is no longer possible to operate according to isolationist policies, but essential that we take our place as an engaged, innovative partner both within the Indo-Pacific region and across the world.

Higher education and research are critical components of that engagement. Students from as far afield as India, China, Africa and Latin America seek to be educated in Australia. Our alumni are to be found in companies and businesses across the globe. And our academics and researchers actively engage with international partners to find solutions to the issues that will increasingly impact and affect us all, such as the rise of terrorism, changing climate patterns, global movement of disease, and food and water security.

Now is the time to seize the opportunity presented by the changing political environments in both of our primary competitiros, the US and UK. If we are to continue to take our rightful place as a competitive, innovative, stable economy into the future it is critical that this vital sector be supported. Therefore, the Go8 recommends the following:

  • That the Australian government explicitly recognise the fundamental importance of Australia's research efforts as a pillar of Australia's international engagement.
  • That the Australian government prioritise support for strategically important international research partnerships and for commercialisation of Australian research discoveries in the global marketplace.
  • That the Australian government consider expanding the scope of the New Colombo Plan to include postgraduate coursework students.
  • That policy settings are adjusted to encourage the best talent in our region to study, work and undertake research at Australian universities.
  • That foreign policy decisions taken by government must take into account possible risks to the international operations of the higher education sector, acknowledging its important contribution to Australia's economic stability and prosperity.
  • That the Australian government consider creating a targeted national scholarship scheme for emerging Asia Pacific nations.
  • That the Australian government consider expanding existing successful programmes, such as the NCP and Endeavour scholarships, to further enhance Australian students' capacity to develop skills and competencies in Asian languages and cultures.
  • That the Australian government enable funding support for Australia to capitalise on our strong research capabilty, as a mechanism for reinforcing international partnerships, delivering real impact to our region, contributing to larger policy conversations and demonstrating our role in the global innovation network.

To access the full submission, please download the PDF file, below.