ARC funding delays now worst on record — STA

Friday, 23 November, 2018

ARC funding delays now worst on record — STA

The research sector is experiencing the longest delay to Australian Research Council (ARC) funding announcements in history, said Science & Technology Australia in a statement.

Leaders from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry have collectively called for urgent action from government to address this delay.

Professor Emma Johnston AO, President of Science & Technology Australia, said the delay was unacceptable and now presented a significant risk to the national interest.

“Not only will we begin to lose researchers to more secure jobs offers from overseas, but there will also be delays in project start dates,” Professor Johnston said.

“If we want to attract the best staff to keep Australian research ahead of the curve, we cannot treat them this way.

“We have seen many women and men turn to social media to vent their frustrations, and we hope that their voices are being heeded by decision-makers.

“We must act on this delay immediately — we need to reward researchers for their hard work and dedication,” Professor Johnston said.

“We understand the delay is due to a new ‘national interest test’ being introduced by the Minister for Education, and we feel it is unfair to retrospectively develop and implement such a test.

“Researchers already describe the benefits of their research and align their work with National Priorities as part of their application, and this is considered as a part of the peer-reviewed assessment process.”

She said STEM leaders call on the Minister for Education to develop and implement any new ‘national interest test’ in 2019 and refrain from further delaying research funding announcements.

“This delay is having significant negative effects on people’s lives, and it’s grossly unfair to string them along without a clear reason for doing so.”

On Twitter, the hashtag #ARCdelay has gathered momentum as the delay extends further and job security becomes an urgent issue for scientists coming to the end of their funding cycle.

Below are some recent tweets on the issue:

Prof Emma L Johnston‏ @DrEmmaLJohnston 

Replying to @LCY_Joshua @arc_gov_au @ScienceAU

- researchers across the nation have put so much time, creativity and intellect into their ARC applications - peer-reviewers have put the same into their constructive feedback and evaluations - after 9 months both groups deserve to know the result.

Scott Wright‏ @Scott_Wright1

Worth checking out the #ARCdelay tag, international friends. Essentially the Oz gov is “interfering” in grant outcomes- leading to a big delay. Creating huge issues. I have 3 (!) grant apps affected and it’s making it hard to plan. But I am lucky to have a cont. job unlike many.

Amy Gelmi‏ @DrTinyTaps 

Lucky for me, my job next year doesn't hinge on my DECRA application, but I'll be unable to prepare a DP for the next round to start building my independent research until I know the outcome. This #ARCdelay is not the most welcome way to start my career back in Australia.

Chris Samuel‏ @chris_bloke 

Replying to @karlglazebrook

I wonder if a solution would be to have a deadline added to the legislation so if the minister does not refuse an ARC application within a month then it is taken as approved? @SenKimCarr @AdamBandt ? #ARCdelay

Dr Julia Howitt‏ @howitt_julia 

I don't have an application under consideration, but these delays are completely unacceptable for people who need to know if they have a job in January!

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Image credit: © Le Moal

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