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Thursday, 17 October 2002
Page: 7967

Mr WINDSOR (2:45 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Given the concerns that regional communities have in relation to the Crossroads review of higher education, what assurances can you give regional universities that the research component of their work will remain an integral part of their structure?

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I thank the member for New England for his question and recognise that the University of New England is a very good example of a fine regional university. It specialises in research in beef, wool and rural futures amongst other things. In reviewing Australian higher education and thinking about the role it will play in driving our economic and social development, including our engagement in Asia, one of the key things the government is looking at is research. There will be $2.77 billion invested by the Australian government this year in research in Australian higher education.

I can certainly reassure the House that absolutely nothing will be done to undermine the role of research that is undertaken in regional universities. In particular, we are determined to see that research is of a very high quality and that it serves the interests and the social and economic wellbeing of people in those regional communities. Out of this reform process I put it to the House that universities and campuses in regions of this country will be very significant winners.