Briefing paper

This rapid research brief responds to the question: what impact is the pandemic having and likely to have on Australia’s research workforce and its capability to support our recovery efforts?

Main findings:

  • Australia’s research workforce will be severely impacted by the pandemic and the effects are likely to be felt for an extended period.
  • Income to universities, medical research institutes, publicly funded research agencies, CRCs, and the industrial sector is suffering from the loss of foreign students and a sharp decline in business research spending and philanthropy.
  • University job losses of up to 21,000 full time equivalent (FTE) positions are projected over the next six months of which an estimated 7,000 could be research-related academic staff. There are concerns that women, early-career researchers and recent graduates will disproportionately experience negative impacts.
  • Domestic and international post-graduate students comprise 57% of the university R&D workforce. Research interruptions and travel and visa restrictions suggest that more than 9000 international research students will not resume their research in 2020.
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