Leading universities in Australia and the UK have set out plans for closer ties following the free trade deal

Top research universities in the UK and Australia are joining forces to find new ways to conduct innovative research, increase trade, investment and boost the economies of both countries. In a joint letter sent to the Australian and UK Foreign and Trade Ministers, the Chairs of the Group of Eight (Go8) and the Russell Group, their countries’ main representative bodies for world-class research-intensive universities, said they would establish a new committee to look at ways to increase bilateral research collaboration and explore how this could be used to boost trade and investment and support economic growth.

This comes after a historic new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed between Australia and the UK in December 2021.

Proposals to maximize the new opportunities created by the ALE include a strategic alliance on research and innovation based on shared research strengths; facilitate the mobility of students and researchers; removing barriers to commercialization between researchers and industry partners; and reducing bureaucracy through intellectual property sharing, data sharing agreements and reduced travel restrictions.

The letter, signed by Professor Margaret Gardner (Chair, Group of Eight) and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (Chair, Russell Group) can be found below.

Commenting, Dr Tim Bradshaw, Managing Director of The Russell Group, said:

“Australia is already one of the UK’s closest research collaborators, and the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement offers a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the academic links that will help us advance knowledge, develop new skills and address major challenges, including net zero We will examine our shared national priorities and the disciplines in which we have complementary and world-class research strengths, such as social sciences, artificial intelligence, clean technologies or health.

“People and ideas will be at the heart of our economic recovery and future growth, so we are delighted to be working with our Go8 partners in Australia to explore how the free trade agreement could help break down barriers to the flow of talent and improve research and marketing activity between our two countries.

Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive of the Group of Eight, said:

“The world-class research undertaken by the Group of Eight and the Russell Group is essential to the economic future of both countries. The FTA provides an important opportunity to strengthen Australian and UK cooperation in higher education and research, and deliver tangible social and economic benefits to both nations. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of academic research to our nation’s economy, health, and security.

“Fostering stronger partnerships with like-minded countries through agreements such as the Australia-UK FTA and the AUKUS trilateral partnership is essential in this era of geopolitical change.

The Go8 Russell Group alliance will cement and expand our two-way partnerships, delivering world-class education, cutting-edge research and commercialization opportunities to support economic growth and social well-being.

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