Health of Australian Science report
23 May 2012
Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb today launched the Health of Australian Science report, a comprehensive overview of Australia’s science system, outlining our strengths and vulnerabilities.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, he said that overall, ours was a healthy and robust system, but that some identified challenges would lead to long term issues for Australia if no action is taken.
“We should be proud of what our scientists, our engineers and our mathematicians achieve. We are well represented in the international arena; our researchers are some of the most productive in the world,” Professor Chubb said.
“But the future prosperity of Australia is dependent on having a strong supply of graduates in the right areas coming through the education system. There are some areas of expertise that are crucial to our national interest which are lacking what they need to prosper,” he said.
Agricultural sciences, physics, mathematics and chemistry are highlighted in the report as being vulnerable and all are crucial forAustralia’s future. The total numbers in Engineering don’t meet demand and there are shifts between disciplines.
Opportunities outlined in the report include developing a more strategic funding system and improving the relationships between science and industry.
The Chief Scientist also remarked that we need to develop a culture that appreciates a science education, both the students and the teachers of it.
“The science degree prepares students for a lifetime of critical thinking, a drive to find evidence and an understanding of how our society fits into the broader picture of the world, all of which are invaluable for the development of a prosperous Australia,” he said.
Professor Chubb said the release of the report provides the trigger for careful preparation and planning.
“The report should lead us to a position where any gaps in our capability will be by design and not the unintended consequence of a failure to notice. “
The Health of Australian Science Report is not a story about rebuilding after a train wreck. We do not have a train wreck. But the Report is a signal: it encourages us to be alert; to be prudent while willing to take bold action when we need to.”
The Health of Australian Science report is the culmination of eight months of research and analysis by members of the Office of the Chief Scientist and can be downloaded at www.chiefscientist.gov.au