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Gillard government puts AU$1.6bn into research

The Australian government has pledged AU$1.63 billion in research block grants for six schemes in 2012, it was announced on 16 February.

Beneficiaries include the Joint Research Engagement (JRE) initiative aimed at strengthening postgraduate links between university and industry.

The JRE scheme, which the government hopes will “encourage cadets studying in the engineering or science disciplines”, will receive AU$339m this year. The programme offers combined research training, such as a PhD or research master’s at a university and R&D activities within a firm.

It is the first year such an initiative has been supported in Australia, although Denmark has a similar Industrial PhD Programme.

But the programme receiving the lion’s share of the funding package—AU$643.5m—is the Research Training Scheme, which “supports research training for students undertaking research doctorate and research masters degrees”.

Research Infrastructure Block Grants have been allocated AU$228.7m. They are intended to help universities cover the costs of research projects supported by research councils and other bodies.

Other funded activities include PhD research training at universities. According to government figures, the Commonwealth supported 33,000 PhD positions in 2011. AU$236.6m has been earmarked for the Australian Postgraduate Award programme.

Just over AU$21m will be used to fund 330 international PhD research scholarships, the government said.