By Paul Kniest (NTEU National Office). The Australian Governemnt today released the results of the 2012 ERA exercise.  The results show that both the volume and quality of reserach being undertaken at Australian universities increased signficantly between 2010 and 2012.  The Union's initial response can be downlaoded here.
NTEU Congratulates Australia’s World Class University Researchers

The world class work of Australia’s university researchers was recognised in today’s release of the results of the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) National Report, says the National Tertiary Education Union.
The Report found that the number of disciplines that perform at and above world standard has doubled, and confirmed that the government’s increased investment in competitive grants funding is facilitating world ranking research.
Sounding a note of caution on the ERA however, NTEU National President Jeannie Rea, said that following two comprehensive assessments of university research outputs in 2010 and 2012, it is time to take stock and review the effects the ERA. We need to understand how the ERA is influencing institutional behaviour, the kinds of research being undertaken and the impacts upon research career development.
Rea noted that it was no surprise that the 2012 ERA results demonstrated that research productivity and quality are on the rise with the number of research ‘outputs’ evaluated increasing by 24% since 2010, along with a 5% increase in full-time equivalent staff engaged in research.
“Australia is getting very good value for its investment in university research which is something to celebrate, but we need to be cautious of becoming besotted with ERA itself. It is the quality research that contributes to our future economic and social prosperity, not the instrument for the measurement of research quality.” Rea said.
“A review should also focus upon the capacity of researchers to undertake and pursue research in accordance with the principles of intellectual freedom.” Rea explained.
“The international literature is telling us that there is a point where the efficiency dividends derived from performance-based assessment and funding, such as through the ERA, can only be achieved at the expense of institutional autonomy and intellectual freedom. The danger is that research, in some areas, will be undervalued and discouraged.
“The NTEU is calling for a review and evaluation of ERA’s cost-effectiveness and its broader ramifications for the research community, before the 2015 round.”
Rea said that the NTEU has undertaken a qualitative evaluation of the impacts of the ERA assessment process within universities, the results of which will be released in early 2013.
Media comment:
Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531 jrea@nteu.org.au,
Paul Kniest, Policy and Research Coordinator: 0418 170 622 pkniest@nteu.org.au.