Research Support Program

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The Research Support Program (RSP) provides block grants, on a calendar year basis, to higher education providers (HEPs) to support the systemic costs of research not supported directly through competitive and other grants, such as libraries, laboratories, consumables, computing centres and the salaries of support and technical staff.

The objectives of the RSP are to:

  • provide a flexible funding stream to support the systemic costs of research by Australian HEPs, including the indirect costs of Australian competitive grant research
  • support the delivery of world class research
  • support collaboration between HEPs and industry and other research end-users.

Important note: Payments are made to HEPs who administer research block grant schemes on behalf of the department. Individual students or researchers need to approach their HEP for advice on support options available.

Additional funding for 2021

The Government is injecting an additional $1 billion through the RSP in 2021 to alleviate the immediate financial pressures on universities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The additional $1 billion will be allocated to eligible providers based on the current RSP funding method - 47 per cent competitive income and 53 per cent engagement income. The RSP safety net will not be applied in allocating this additional funding.

Universities will receive this additional funding from January 2021.

Extension of transitional arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic

The current research block grants transitional arrangements were scheduled to cease at the end of 2020. These arrangements for RSP consist of a safety net to ensure that no university receives less than 95 per cent of its funding for the prior year, indexed. To provide funding certainty to HEPs, the transitional arrangements have been extended by 12 months until 31 December 2021. The transitional arrangements for 2021 will only apply to base RSP funding and will not apply to the additional $1 billion of RSP funding announced in the 2020‑21 Budget.

Guidelines, conditions and calculations

Australian Government funding is provided through annual block grants to eligible Australian HEPs in accordance with item 7 of the table in section 41-10 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA).

The Other Grants Guidelines (Research) 2017 Provides the legislative basis for the provision of funding to this program. The guidelines were amended on 17 November 2020 to enable the additional $1 billion in RSP funding to be allocated to HEPs in 2021.

Unlike previous years, there are no separate conditions of grant document for the expenditure of 2021 RSP grant amounts. Instead, RSP conditions have been streamlined to allow institutions autonomy in directing additional funding to areas most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 RSP grant amounts to participating providers is based on a formula that is reflective of their overall research performance.

A detailed guide to calculating RSP grant amounts is available.


For more information, email: with "RSP" as the subject line.