26 October 2018

Social Science Responds to Ministerial Intervention

The Academy for Social Sciences in Australia is extremely concerned at the news that the former Minister for Education vetoed the award of 11 Australian Research Council (ARC) grants this year.

These highly competitive research grants are rigorously assessed by experts in the field and world-class researchers in other disciplines. Although the ARC formally recommends grants for approval by the Minister, it is virtually unheard of that the Minister would block funding. The last time this occurred was during the ‘history wars’ of the early 2000s under then-Minister Brendan Nelson.

The Minister’s veto undermines the integrity of the peer-review process and is disrespectful of scholarship and the independent, expert advice to government. The lack of transparency means that the affected researchers would not have known the reason why their application was rejected.

ARC grants are the lifeblood for research in the humanities and social sciences. Cuts to the ARC budget have already impacted significantly on the availability of research funding. Less than one in five applications are successful. Further arbitrary political interference threatens an already tenuous situation.

Media contact:

Professor Glenn Withers AO,
President, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

The Academy for Social Sciences in Australia is an autonomous, non-governmental organisation, devoted to the advancement of knowledge and research in the various social sciences. It is an independent, interdisciplinary body of Fellows who are elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements and exceptional contributions made to the social sciences across 18 disciplines.