8 February 2021

New fund to help Canberra professors continue research projects during pandemic

| Dominic Giannini
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ACT Government jobs fund

An ACT Government jobs fund is aiming to retain university graduates and contribute to the Territory becoming a knowledge hub. Photo: ANU.

University researchers will get a leg up to continue projects in key sectors like space, renewable energy and cybersecurity after the ACT Government announced a $9.2 million Future Jobs Fund as a part of tomorrow’s budget.

The fund will finance projects over the next two years to help universities feeling the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and bans on international students coming to Australia.

Payroll tax deferrals of up to $10 million per university will also be included in the budget to help boost the cashflow of Canberra’s tertiary education sector in the short to medium term.

The Australian National University needs to save more than $100 million a year until 2023 and cut hundreds of jobs to help make up for the shortfall in international student numbers. The situation has also been made more dire due to the exclusion of universities from the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program.

The sector contributes more than $3.3 billion to the ACT’s economy every year, supporting more than 20,000 jobs and 63,000 students.

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Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr said the fund builds on the Territory’s Knowledge Capital Plan, which is designed to make Canberra an education and innovation hub and attract more investment into the research sector.

“The Future Jobs Fund is designed to attract the best and brightest from around the world, build on Canberra’s reputation for supporting local innovation, attract investment from institutions and the private sector, and encourage more students to stay in Canberra when they graduate,” he said.

“International education is also the territory’s first billion-dollar export industry, demonstrating how important the sector is to maintain a strong and diverse economy in the ACT.”

An additional $8.4 million will also be put towards the JobTrainer program, which delivers fee-free programs for key industries through registered training organisations.

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