The University of New England will receive $14.7 million from Commonwealth funding schemes to support research and research training in 2010.
As part of this funding package the Commonwealth has increased Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarships by ten per cent, lifting the annual student stipend to $22,500 a year.
UNE has 35 postgraduate students beginning this year who have been awarded APAs.
The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Webb, welcomed the funding, which he said would strengthen UNE’s research base.
“This funding allows us to pursue our strengths,” Professor Webb said. “UNE has a distinguished record of research with a rural and regional focus – in areas including environmental and agricultural sciences and an increasing array of professional areas. Our research provides real and concrete outcomes for our own and other regional communities, including internationally. This funding reinforces our capacity to pursue such research and to build our research student profile.
“A large part of the $14 million that the Commonwealth has granted to UNE will go to the Research Training Scheme, which helps universities meet the cost of tuition for students completing their PhDs and Masters’ by Research. It funds research undertaken by students and the maintenance of infrastructure used by students, and contributes to the salaries of their academic supervisors.”
“This is a key focus for us,” Professor Webb said. “We have 701 students undertaking higher degrees by research in 2009 with the greatest concentration in Education, where we have 164 research students, but we also have 143 in Environmental and Rural Science, 100 in Humanities, and 72 in Business, Economics and Public Policy.”
The Chancellor, Dr Richard Torbay, welcomed the funding as a boost to UNE and the broader regional community. “Building the University’s research profile by attracting more postgraduate degree students is strategically important,” he said. “UNE was the first regional university established in Australia, and from the beginning has had a strong research focus.
“While that has always had a national and international component, much of the research has traditionally focused on rural and regional issues. More skilled graduates trained at a rurally based university has benefits for our region and beyond.”
Dr Torbay also welcomed Sustainable Research Excellence, a new category directed at complementing competitive grant funding to help universities meet the indirect costs of running research programs. This funding will progressively increase across the sector over the next few years.
In addition to the funds announced this week, UNE expects more than $17 million in grants for individual research projects.