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Academic experts lead research body review

The federal government’s independent review of the Australian Research Council will be led by a team of academic experts to ensure it is operating as intended.

Queensland University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil will head the review, Education Minister Jason Clare announced on Tuesday.

Professor Sheil will be joined by Adelaide University Prof Mark Hutchinson and La Trobe University Prof Susan Dodds.

The review was initiated following accusations of political interference in the council’s grant funding allocation duties.

Mr Clare said the review would help reform and improve the council’s work.

“This group brings a wealth of experience in government and academia, in STEM and the humanities, in running the ARC and using the funding it provides to develop new research,” he said in a statement.

“I am asking them to look at the role and purpose of the ARC within our research system so it can meet current and future needs and maintain the trust of the research sector.”

In February, Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt said political interference in the awarding of research grants was an “existential threat” to the higher education sector.

Prof Schmidt’s comments came after former education minister Stuart Robert vetoed several projects recommended for grant funding by the independent council.

The independent review will examine whether the council’s role and purpose remains relevant, ensure its governance model is fit for purpose and propose ways to improve its functions.

An interim report will be released at the end of December with the final report due back to parliament by the end of March 2023.

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