Down under up top

(UPDATED: Good stuff in the comments. – pw)

Here’s a long-weekend assignment for the cruelly overworked knowledge-economy branch of the Inkless Irregulars: I’d appreciate a comparison between this ambitious announcement from Australia and similar efforts in Canada over the past decade.

Australia Nearly Doubles Endowment for University Infrastructure

Australian universities received a windfall this week when the government announced that it would nearly double the higher-education infrastructure endowment, to $11-billion (Australian), the newspaper The Australian reported. The amount equals about $10.5-billion (U.S.)

The increase fulfilled a campaign promise by Australia’s recently-elected prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to invest substantially in education. In making the announcement, Education Minister Julia Gillard said the fund was intended to help universities rebuild their campus infrastructure after 11 years “government neglect” under the previous prime minister.

Academics have in the past complained that cutbacks in education spending were hurting Australia’s competitiveness.

The government also announced several other changes that it hopes will encourage science research. New students entering math and science programs will pay practically no tuition. A thousand mid-career Australian and international researchers will be awarded fellowships. And the number of Commonwealth scholarships for undergraduates will double, to 88,000, over the next four years.

Carolyn Allport, president of the National Tertiary Education Union, said the amount allocated for higher education exceeded her expectations.

“The education revolution has started,” she said.

Poignant final sentence, that.

Also: At any point over the next several months, if any researcher in any field develops concrete plans to leave Canada for Australia because of these policy changes, I’d love to hear from you.

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