Research block grants provide funding to eligible Australian higher education providers for research and research training. Block grants are established under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA). Funding provides research income and supports research students to successfully complete higher degrees.

Additional $1 billion in Research Support Program funding for 2021

To alleviate the immediate financial pressures on universities experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional $1 billion in Research Support Program funding has been allocated in 2021.

This will help protect the base capability of the university research sector.

Policy

Research block grants were established under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) and provide block funding to eligible Australian higher education providers for research and research training.

Research block grants are:

  • Allocated on a calendar year basis
  • Calculated using program-specific formulae
  • Reward the performance of providers in attracting research income
  • Used to support the successful completion of higher degrees by research students

Providers have the autonomy in allocating research block grant funding to support:

  • Students
  • Research projects
  • Researchers
  • Equipment
  • Infrastructure

This includes establishing research and research training partnerships with:

  • Businesses
  • International providers
  • Other organisations

The Australian research funding system recognises that these decisions are best made by the provider, its researchers and stakeholder communities.

Programs

In 2021, the Government is providing $2.99 billion to 42 providers as block grants with:

  • $1.06 billion through the Research Training Program (RTP)
  • $1.9 billion through the Research Support Program (RSP). This includes an additional $1 billion in RSP funding to alleviate the immediate financial pressures on universities experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Research Training Program:

  • Provides funding to higher education providers to support the training of domestic and international students undertaking Research Doctorate and Research Masters courses, known as higher degrees by research (HDR)
  • Scholarships to research doctorate degree students for between 3 to 4 years, and up to 2 years to research masters students
  • Scholarships can fund a student's tuition fees, general living costs, or be used to support the ancillary costs of an HDR such as thesis publication costs
  • For HDR students whose research projects have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, extensions for RTP scholarships are available for up to 6 months

The Research Support Program:

  • Provides flexible funding stream for higher education providers to support the systemic costs of university research
  • Support for systemic costs such as research projects not funded through other means
  • Funding for indirect costs such as libraries, laboratories, consumables, computing centres and the salaries of support and technical staff

Information for students and university administrators

See frequently asked questions on the Research Training Program for:

Research funding, data collection and calculations

2021 Research Block Grant Allocations

A summary of the research block grant allocations to individual higher education providers in 2020.

See the 2021 Research Block Grant Allocations page for more information.

Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC)

  • Controls the collection of higher education research data
  • Designed to ensure the Australian Government's research block grants are allocated in a fair and transparent way
  • Support the policy intent of the funding.

See the Higher Education Research Data Collection page for more information.

Research Block Grants - Calculation Methodology

Specifies the methods used to calculate amounts under the research block grant programs.

See the Research Block Grants Calculation Methodology page for more information.

Consolidated time series data sets

See the consolidated data-sets page for more information.

Data sets include:

  • Research Block Grant Allocations (2001-2021)
  • HERDC Research Income Data (1994-2019)
  • HDR Completions (1989-2019)
  • Higher education expenditure on R&D (HERD) by university (2004-2018).

More information