Well, it wouldn’t have taken much sleuthing to find out that NZ’s medical reasearch funding is pathetic compared to other developed countries’. But good on the media for running with this story. (The report doesn’t appear on the UA website at the time of typing.)
“New Zealand will have fewer, and lower quality, medical students within a few years if research funding doesn’t increase, the country’s two medical schools believe.
“The country is haemmorhaging health staff, facilities and research, because its health research funding is up to 12 times lower than other countries, they say.”
Yep, that’s a factor of twelve. The report shows NZ’s government funding for health research is equivalent to $10.2 per capita. This compares to around $34.6 per capita in Australia, $54.3 per capita in the UK and $126 per capita in the USA.
I’ve discussed the dire state of university funding in an earlier post. So the problem to which the deputy deans have drawn attention is not unique to one part of the university system. But it illustrates the point well:
“[The primary health research funder] the Health Research Council, … invested $63 million in this year’s recent funding round. This funding has remained at a static level for the past four years despite research costs rising by almost 9% per year. Around 85% of submitted projects do not receive funding.”
It is a tribute to the dedication and ingenuity of NZ’s health researchers that we do as well as we do in this area. But we can’t keep exploiting health and other academics endlessly…
One way that academics compensate for the crappy salaries that they get compared to their private sector counterparts is to substitute intrinsic rewards for the extrinsic shortfalls. The opportunity to research is probably the chief compensation for most academics, with teaching a good second. But we are falling down on the research side.
Where to from here? Well, the Labour-led government made some modest progress, particularly when Cullen was Minister. Frankly, Hodgson is a disappointment. But National looks worse. Traditionally anti-intellectual, the signs from Bill “Loose Lips” English are not good. I despair.
[Postscript: My friend who left last week for a job at a Melbourne uni reports vastly superior research funding in addition to the huge salary increase that he awarded himself by going there.]