Taxpayer-Funded ARC Grants Biased Towards Identity Politics

Written by:
7 November 2019
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Australian Research Council (ARC) grants to the humanities are disproportionately biased towards identity politics, according to a new research report released today by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Humanities in Crisis: An Audit of Taxpayer-Funded ARC Grants investigates taxpayer-funded ARC humanities grants awarded to Australian universities since 2002.

The report finds that between 2002 and 2019, the ARC National Competitive Grants Program has administered a total of $1.34 billion in funding to humanities research projects.

This included 616 Historical Studies research projects, which received $192 million in taxpayer-funded grants. Of these, 112 focused on the themes of class, race and gender; while only 5 projects focused on the rule of law, free speech, or capitalism.

“These findings further prove the humanities departments are obsessed with identity politics,” said Dr Bella d’Abrera, Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

The ARC states that “the outcomes of ARC-funded research deliver cultural, economic, social and environmental benefits to all Australians.”

“There is an enormous disconnect between the ARC’s stated aims and the predominance of identity politics in the research proposals that have received funding,” said Dr d’Abrera.

“Australian taxpayers need to know that their hard-earned money is funding research that can in no way be considered of benefit to society.”

The report recommends the introduction of the National Interest Test proposed by the Minister for Education, Dan Tehan. It also suggests that another solution could come in the form of self-funded research, similar to what exists in Britain and Canada.

“The ARC needs to exercise greater rigour when evaluating projects, and introduce an element of accountability at the end of each project, so that taxpayers can have confidence in how their money is being spent,” said Dr d’Abrera.

Download the IPA’s report The Humanities In Crisis: An Audit of Taxpayer-Funded ARC Grants here.

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