Mutual protection or deadly enemies?
Funding research and funding teaching
Dr Martin Grabert
Senior Policy Adviser, Group of Eight
CEO Box Hill Institute
Professor Joyce Kirk (Chair)
Traditionally teaching and research in universities were joined and funded
together on the basis of the ‘teaching-research nexus’. This assumed
that high quality in the one supported the development of the other.
But then the material basis for the nexus began to erode. Two decades
ago the federal research grant agencies were upgraded, and funding for
specific projects moved from the margins to become the main means
of research support. Meanwhile funding became thinned out that grants
for teaching no longer maintained class sizes let alone research, while
total workloads and enrolments expanded. Now, the pressure for high
quality research specialization is increasing, and for many working
academics, teaching and research duties crowd each other out. Is the
teaching-research nexus heading for divorce? Or should it be a teaching-
scholarship nexus? What is its relevance in institutions with few funded
research projects and a large student body? With both research funding
and federal grants for teaching under federal review in 2011, it is the
optimum time for a public exploration of these vital issues.