I'm not entirely sure why people, including Jason Soon, should be so concerned over ANU or Sydney University saying "no thanks" for funding for a degree in "Western Civilisation".
Brian Schmidt says it was due to it being clear that the funders wanted an "unprecedented" level of influence. Given Tony Abbott's comments in Quadrant, I find that far from an implausible claim. Can you imagine Tony taking it well if some academic or student on the course started writing articles cynical or critical of aspects of the civilisation that, apparently, hasn't been studied enough?
As for the complaint that if universities take funding from foreign governments for "research centres", why do they baulk at conservative's money?: it probably does come down to whether it's a matter of soft influence, or hard influence. Surely, foreign money is given in at least the hope of encouraging sympathetic treatment; but if it is given on a clear basis that all studies are expected to be positive, well, I can understand universities rejecting it.
And besides, isn't the money going to be accepted by some university or other (wasn't the Australian Catholic University saying "pick me", or what about Bond University?) Or is it that the Ramsay Centre is wanting to deliberately annoy only universities with a Leftist reputation by buying their way inside?
Talking up a need for somewhat old fashioned study of the glories of Western Civilisation has been a thing coming from the IPA and its fellow travellers for some time now. Conservatives like the idea because they want to fight cultural relativism; libertarian/classical liberals tend to want it more so they can go on and on about how fantastic capitalism is, because that suits their own small government/low regulation/low tax agenda. (You have to give capitalism free space to breath - how could you want to hurt something that has done so much for you?)
I have some sympathy to the anti-relativism view, but I can't really see that this is likely to be a successful way to promote it. And libertarians can always comfort themselves with already owing RMIT - where Davidson, Potts, Berg and even Trump's world champion suck up Kates make a living.
I don't really see the Ramsay plan being a good use of money...