Australian Government Strips millions of funding awarded to Humanities researchers

The Australian Academy of the Humanities reports below on an extremely worrying development…

The Australian Academy of the Humanities today expressed its shock and anger at the news that former Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, personally intervened to strip the nation’s humanities researchers of over $4M in funding that had been approved through a world-renowned peer review process of funding.

During the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee estimates hearing yesterday, under questioning by Senator Kim Carr, it was confirmed that the former Education Minister intervened by rejecting 11 humanities Australian Research Council grant applications.

“The Australian research funding system is highly respected around the world for its rigour and integrity” said Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. “Political interference of this kind undermines confidence and trust in that system.”

“The rigour of that system and the competition for funding means that only exceptional applications make it through the process” said Professor Damousi. “A panel of experts have judged these projects to be outstanding, yet that decision has apparently been rejected out of hand by the former Minister.”

“This interference damages Australia’s reputation on the world stage. Withdrawing funding by stealth threatens the survival of a strong humanities teaching and research sector, something no democratic society can do without.”

“The secrecy under which the Ministerial intervention has occurred should be of grave concern to the entire research community, not just to humanities scholars”, said Professor Damousi. “This interference is entirely at odds with a nation that prides itself on free and open critical enquiry.”

The Academy calls on the Morrison Government to restore the funding to the humanities sector and support the high quality research it has arbitrarily rejected. Political interference in the research grants process constitutes a fundamental attack on the integrity of our research funding system.




Gaming on the Goals – networking event at Northumbria University on the SDGs

Join us for an open, interactive, dynamic and fun networking session to mark the first ‘Green GB Week’

“Gaming on the Goals” – networking on Sustainable Development Goals


16th October, 10:00 -11:30 am

Northumbria University


Who should attend?

This event is open to all academics and post-doctoral researchers from all Faculties who are keen to get involved and make new connections


Aims of the event:

Get to know the Sustainable Development Goals and why they are momentous!

Be inspired for new ideas for Research and Teaching around the Goals

Meet new people, exchange ideas and get creative together



A dynamic, interactive, facilitated session to generate awareness and ideas on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will be fun, creative and thought-provoking!

The first hour will be facilitated and the last half hour will be further informal networking over coffee.


Please register for the event as places are limited:


The event is organised by Research and Innovation Services and is open to all academic and post-doctoral researchers at Northumbria University. For queries, email





Save the Date: MSCA ITN 2019 UK Information Events

In its capacity as National Contact Point for the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), the UK Research Office (UKRO), will hold two free information events for organisations interested in applying to the 2019 MSCA Innovative Training Networks (ITN) call:

Registration to the York event is now open, and registration for the London event will open in the coming days.

The 2019 MSCA ITN call will be launched on 13 September 2018 with a deadline for the submission of applications on 15 January 2019.


European Brokerage Event on Fight against crime and terrorism 2019 – 2nd October 2018

An information day, brokerage event and workshop for those interested in the upcoming Horizon 2020 calls related to the fight against crime and terrorism will be held in Paris on 2 October 2018.

The event will focus on:

  • Security for smart and safe cities, including for public spaces (SU-INFRA02-2019);
  • Understanding the drivers of cybercriminality, and new methods to investigate cybercriminality (SU-FCT01-2019 );
  • Trace qualification (SU-FCT02-2019 );
  • Any project helping to fight crime and terrorism (SU-FCT02-2019 – open sub-topic);
  • Information and data stream management to fight against (cyber)crime and terrorism (SU-FCT03-2019); and
  • Pan-European networks of practitioners and other actors in the field of security in two specific areas of specialisation: 1) the protection of public figures; 2) the handling of hybrid threats” (SU-GM01-2019)

Participation is free of charge, however registration is mandatory and will close 27 September 2018. A draft agenda is available on the registration page.​



Global Challenges Summit 2018. “NGOs – why work with academics?”

The Global Challenges Summit 2018, co-hosted by Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities, held yesterday (26th July) was hugely informative, inspiring and exceptional for sharing perspectives and making new contacts.

Northumbria’s very own Matt Bailie-Smith hosted an insightful informal ‘sofa-style’ session ‘Thinking Across Sectors’ with guests from NGOs and consultants working in international development, based on the north-east:  Ben Margetts of Team Kenya, Catherine Gunby of Traidcraft, Lucy Kendall of COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas) and Rachel Shah of Springfield Centre.

In this blog post, we’ve captured the main points – potentially useful learning points for the academic community.

Matt kicked of with ‘Why work with academics?’ 

The answers were varied and very positive – to gain new models of working and ideas, to gain new insights from academics who may have worked in a specific field/region for many years, to have a critique of the NGO’s work methods and evidence, to understand and use the most suitable methods for research taking account of the theory and different points of view, for the research which is produced to have more ‘authority’ and independence, to gather evidence, and to be endorsed and validated by a leader in their academic field.

Matt summed this up as ‘evaluation, evidence, independence’ and then asked then asked researchers in the audience to consider if their own CV could convey these three key offers.

‘What do you need to work with academics?’

Easy access information to find out about academics and their interests and expertise. Currently, it’s difficult to find out who is who and you tend to work with the same people, as it takes time to find new people. Help us with theory of change, and help us take a step back and design our activities to really deliver what we want to achieve.

Matt then daringly asked ‘Why might you choose not to work with academics?’

NGOs want concrete, definite recommendations and clarity and sometimes academic outputs are lengthy and too nuanced. Time pressures mean NGOs do not have time to set the ball rolling on new relationships or to read 300 page reports. Funding is a frustration, with GCRF and other funding for academic research allowing only a small proportion of funding to the practitioners which is disportionate to the effort required. NGOs struggle with when to say yes and when to say know to taking part in funding proposals, especially small NGOs with limited time and human resource. When time is limited, there can be a dilemma on whether to spend the time influencing and lobbying others who have more ‘power’ or to work on a partnership with a university. Heavily academic proposals can be a bit scary to be involved in. There are ‘language’ barriers with academics using terminology which is unfamiliar to the NGO. There can be a real time lag before the NGO gets the research findings it really needs to have an impact on development practice, and these lags can mean the agenda has moved on. NGOs need a mix of meeting short terms needs and preparing for the long term too. There is an advantage in longer term relationships, as you build trust and know eachother.

“What do you need to improve collaborative working with academics?”

A network of charities and universities based in the north-east would be really helpful, enabling us all to know what we are working on and how we can achieve mutual benefit. The NGOs themselves need to know what eachother is doing, not just the universities. Collaborative working needs a shared understanding of timelines and constraints which each partner works under (NGOs and universities will have different needs) and have a very frank dialogue on what everyone needs to that interests align enough for the working together to be worth it for all parties.

Here is our ‘happy family’ photo captured at the end of the session. Thank you to all for a very informative Summit!


Global Challenges Summit – 24 July ‘Working together for international development’

Northumbria, Newcastle and Durham Universities are holding a Global Challenges Summit on Tuesday 24 July 2018 (full programme and details to follow shortly) on the theme, ‘Working together for international development’. The summit is for academics actively engaged in research on international development as well as those interested in developing their research in this area. The summit will have a focus on building new synergies across the North East and the event is also opening to students and practitioners.

The event will take place in Newcastle across Newcastle’s and Northumbria’s campuses. We’d be delighted if you were able to join us. 

Please register at and please do distribute widely to colleagues.

 If you have any further questions, contact Matt Baillie Smith (





Coming up next week in the Professional Development and Researcher Training Programme…

Here are the events that are taking place next week in the Professional Development and Researcher Training Programme:

  • Writing Retreat, Tue 19 June, 9.30-16.00, CCE1-227 – to book your place click here – don’t forget to bring your writing equipment!
  • How to be an Effective Researcher, Wed 20 June, 9.30-16.00, SQB208 – to book your place click here

To view the rest of the programme go to:

Visit the Researcher Development webpage at: