Australia’s economic growth and national identity have been widely celebrated as being founded on the nation’s natural resources. With the golden era of pastoralism fading into the distance, a renewed love affair with primary industries has been much lauded, particularly by purveyors of neoliberal ideology. The considerable wealth generated by resource extraction has, despite its environmental and social record, proved seductive to the university sector. The mining industry is one of a number of industries and sectors (alongside pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnological) that is increasingly courting Australian universities. These new public-private alliances are often viewed as the much-needed cash cow to bridge the public funding shortfall in the tertiary sector. However, this trend also raises profound questions about the capacity of public good institutions, as universities were once assumed to be, to maintain institutional independence and academic freedoms.
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