Research Block Grants


The Government's research block grants are established under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) and provide block funding to eligible Australian higher education providers for research and research training. In 2020, the Government is providing $1.96 billion to 42 providers as block grants through two programs, the Research Training Program (RTP) and the Research Support Program (RSP).

Additional $1 billion in RSP funding for 2021

As announced in the 2020-21 Budget, the Government will inject an additional $1 billion in RSP funding in 2021 to protect the base capability of the university research sector. This will alleviate the immediate financial pressures on universities experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information on these arrangements is available on the RSP page.


Research block grants are allocated on a calendar year basis using program-specific formulae that reward the performance of providers in attracting research income and the successful completion of higher degree by research students.

Providers have autonomy in deciding which students, research projects, researchers, equipment and infrastructure the block grant funding will support. This also includes decisions by providers about which businesses, international providers and other organisations they collaborate with in establishing research and research training partnerships. In this way, the Australian research funding system recognises that these sorts of decisions are best made by the provider, its researchers and stakeholder communities.


The Research Training Program (RTP) 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). In 2020, the Government will provide $1.05 billion through the RTP. RTP scholarships are available to research doctorate degree students for between three to four years, and up to two years to research masters students. RTP scholarships can be provided to fund a student's tuition fees, to provide a stipend to support a student's general living costs, or to support the ancillary costs of an HDR such as thesis publication costs.

Extensions will be available for Research Training Program scholarships for up to six months. This will enable universities to provide more time to HDR students whose research projects have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions to complete their courses.

The Research Support Program (RSP) provides a flexible funding stream for higher education providers to support the systemic costs of university research. This forms part of the Government's dual funding system for the higher education sector where competitive and other grants support the direct costs of research, and the RSP supports the systemic costs such as research projects not funded through other means, and the indirect costs such as libraries, laboratories, consumables, computing centres and the salaries of support and technical staff. In 2020, the Government will provide $910 million through the RSP.

Further information for students and university administrators

Students with further queries can view the Research Training Program - Frequently Asked Questions for students.

University administrators with further queries can view the Research Training Program - Frequently Asked Questions for university administrators.

2020 HERDC Smart Forms for the Collection of 2019 Data

2020 Smart Forms are now available for the reporting of the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).

Returns are due by 30 June 2020.

Research funding, data collection and calculations

2020 Research Block Grant Allocations provides a summary of the research block grant allocations to individual higher education providers in 2020.

The Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) controls the collection of higher education research data and is designed to ensure the Australian Government's research block grants are allocated in a fair and transparent way and to support the policy intent of the funding.

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

The department maintains a series of consolidated data-sets related to research block grants. These include Research Block Grant Allocations (2001-2020), HERDC Research Income Data (1994-2018), and HDR Completions (1989-2018).

Historical programs

The following programs ceased on 31 December 2016:

  1. Australian Postgraduate Awards
  2. International Postgraduate Research Scholarships
  3. Research Training Scheme
  4. Joint Research Engagement
  5. Research Infrastructure Block Grants
  6. Sustainable Research Excellence

Information on these previous research block grant arrangements can be found on the historical research block grant programs page.

More Information

  • Data used in current and historical research block grant allocations
  • Reviews studies, consultation papers and evaluations

Administration of the RBG

The RBG is administered by:

  • Research Policy and Programs Branch
  • Higher Education Division
  • Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Enquiries can be emailed to: