The University of Adelaide has declined working in seven collaborative research projects featuring global institutions due to foreign interference, a university’s submission to the federal parliamentary committee on Intelligence and Security has revealed.
Throughout the committee held last month, the University of Adelaide has been named as “one of the most defence-engaged universities in Australia,” Erudera.com reports.
According to the resident and vice-chancellor at the University of Adelaide, Peter Hoj, the optimism about sharing for the benefit of all has to be changed, insisting that the university cannot be as open as before in offering the opportunity of international research proposals anymore.
“We fundamentally understand why the government has introduced new legislation to ensure that publicly-funded universities are obliged to align their activities with the government’s foreign relations policy,” Mr. Hoj said.
A university spokesperson said that the university’s quality claimed by the committee “is a result of improved practices and oversight related to the issues.”
“The University routinely undertakes a high level of due diligence and has a proactive and ongoing relationship with the relevant government authorities in relation to these matters,” the spokesperson said.
Projects Rejected Before the Regulation
Among the dismissed projects was a research proposal from a Chinese multinational technology company, which according to the university, had a “significant cost” and “put the renewal of staff employment contracts in jeopardy.”
The university has also declined working on a research proposal in “advanced materials” after the investigation showed that the $3 million company was planning to fund commercialization from a Hong Kong company linked to the “Panama Papers” scandal.
These projects were refused even before the federal government unfolded the new law to crack down on foreign interference in universities funded with public money back in 2018.
Projects Refused After the Regulation
According to its submission presented to the committee, the University of Adelaide has refused five collaboration requests from foreign universities last year.
The university declined working on a proposal due to its “high level of defence research and links to a nuclear weapons program” in August 2020. A month later, another project was rejected due to its “top secret credentials.”
The committee is expected to report in July 2021.
Although this event marks a positive endeavor, the Australian universities are facing many difficulties during the pandemic, with nearly 17,300 university workers fired. The country’s education is also experiencing a severe decline in international students, which is an essential factor for the country’s economy as well.
According to the Department of Education, there was an 83 percent decrease in the number of Indian students enrolling at Australian universities in 2020. International students coming from India are one of the main sources of students in Australia.