In 2018 Australia accounted for 1.1 per cent of the world’s total expenditure on research and development (R&D), spending approximately US$21.2 billion.
Global expenditure on R&D was US$1.934 trillion, with the United States, China and the European Union making up 74.6 per cent of the total.
Global Gross Expenditure on R&D in 2018 ($US million)
The importance of international partners in supporting Australia’s research endeavour cannot be understated. Research is a global enterprise, underpinned by extensive overseas collaboration.
Without international partners, we would not be able to do what we do.
In 2018, Australian universities had 6,252 academic/research collaborative agreements with other universities around the world.
This level of R&D collaboration has allowed Australia to successfully connect with researchers and institutions all over the world. We share Australia’s knowledge with other countries and bring their know-how and expertise back to Australia – putting us on the forefront of research into the causes and cures of many debilitating health conditions and the development of life-changing inventions.
The quality of Australia’s research output has risen significantly over the last 15 years compared to the OECD average, in part due to greater international collaboration.
Australia’s share of the top one per cent of publications by citation (a measure of research quality) that involved a foreign collaborator increased from 2.17 per cent in 2005 to 7.19 per cent in 2019 – an increase in output of 231 per cent. By comparison, the OECD average in the same period rose from 1.98 per cent to 3.11 per cent – an increase of 57 per cent.
Australia’s international research endeavour has never been more important.
On 27 August 2020, the Government announced that universities would be included in the proposed Australia’s Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020. Universities Australia is in discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the implications of the Bill for universities.
Universities Australia is concerned the proposed legislation might deter these partnerships which are the lifeblood of our research.
Universities Australia believes it is important to strike the right balance between national security and research collaboration.
Read more about the proposed legislation here and view Universities Australia’s submission on the Bill on our website.