UTS Vice Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs has expressed disbelief about the political interference by former Education Minister Simon Birmingham in secretly rejecting highly recommended projects for research funding.
Professor Brungs said the UTS community joined colleagues around the country in condemning the undermining of the independence, integrity and rigour of the peer-reviewed grants assessment processes by the former minister.
“These processes serve as the only way that taxpayers can be sure their money is invested without interference, bias or short-term opportunism,” Professor Brungs said.
Professor Brungs said the former minister’s actions show an astonishing disregard for the principles of academic freedom and the significant national benefits that derive from a research culture built on this presumption.
“The singling out of humanities projects is extremely worrying. All research, irrespective of discipline, deserves to be assessed on merit and by those are best positioned to measure this.
“The longer-term signs that humanities research is being undervalued by government is of enormous concern. At a time of great social change and technological disruption it is the humanities which are vital to Australia’s ability to be a creative and innovative nation as well as have positive social cohesion.”