Research Block Grants

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. 

Growing industry internships for research PhD students through the Research Training Program 

Through the 2021-2022 Budget, a financial incentive will be implemented for universities that enrol research PhD students in industry internships. 

The Research Training Program (RTP) is being refocused to reward universities for research PhD students that graduate having undertaken a three-month industry internship, which commences early in their research PhD program. This incentive will drive industry-based learning and build stronger links between universities and industry. 

A new higher degree by research (HDR) completion weighting will be incorporated into the RTP funding allocation formula to give effect to this change.

Implementation paper for sector feedback

The Growing industry internships for research PhD students through the Research Training Program implementation paper was released on 20 July 2021 for sector feedback. Submissions closed on Friday 6 August 2021.

Policy 

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

Research block grants are: 

  • allocated on a calendar year basis 
  • calculated using program-specific formulae 
  • awarded based on the relative performance of each higher education provider in attracting research income and supporting students to complete HDRs.

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, consisting of: 

  • $1.06 billion through the Research Training Program (RTP) 
  • $1.93 billion through the Research Support Program (RSP), which includes an additional $1 billion 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 (HDRs). The RTP provides scholarships: 

  • to research doctorate degree students for between 3 to 4 years
  • to research masters students for up to 2 years
  • that can fund a student's tuition fees, general living costs, or be used to support the ancillary costs of a 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: 

  • a 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 2021 can be found on the 2021 Research Block Grant Allocations page. 

Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) 

HERDC:

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

More information about Higher Education Research Data Collection is also available. 

Research block grants - calculation methodology 

The Research Block Grants Calculation Methodology page specifies the methods used to calculate amounts under the research block grant programs. 

Consolidated time series data sets 

The consolidated data-sets page provides historical research block grant allocations and other higher education research data sets, including: 

  • 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