2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Review

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The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR), in collaboration with Universities Australia (UA) undertook a review of the provisions of income data collection relating to the distribution of research block grants (known as the HERDC review).

The review commenced on 18 May 2009 and was completed on 14 September 2009.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference are as follows:

  1. Examine the purpose of income data collection arrangements for the HERDC that are used to allocate research block funding, and consider the degree to which these arrangements have or have not achieved their intended purpose.
  2. Consider the impact of links between universities, Medical Research Institutes (MRIs) and joint venture participants on funding distribution patterns of research block funding over time.
  3. Develop possible solutions to identified problems with the income collection arrangements and links between universities, MRIs and joint venture participants in terms of future approaches to data collection relating to research activity for the purposes of research block funding.
  4. Provide advice to the board of UA and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research on outcomes from the review and proposed solutions to any identified problems.

Membership of Review Team

The review committee was jointly chaired by the current Chair of the Deputy and Pro-Vice Chancellors (Research) UA, and the General Manager of the Research Funding and Policy Branch of the department, who has the responsibility for the HERDC. Committee membership comprised representation from UA, a number of deputy vice-chancellors (research), and the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Findings of the Review

There were three review committee meetings (held during June and July 2009) to discuss current income data collection provisions, and concerns regarding the provisions and possible solutions.

The HERDC Options Paper addressing these concerns was prepared for, and considered by the UA board.

Outcomes of the Review

It was agreed to remove notional Joint Venture (JV) provisions from the 2010 HERDC Specifications. Prior to finalisation, draft 2010 HERDC Specifications were circulated to the higher education research sector (and provided on this webpage) for consideration and comment. When finalising the 2010 HERDC Specifications, the department considered all comments regarding the drafted changes.

Because calculations for research block grants (RBG) uses income averaged over two years for the allocations, any impact of the removal of notional JV will be staggered. The 2010 RBG allocations were calculated using 2007 and 2008 data, both of which would include notional JV income. The 2011 RBG allocations will use the average of 2008 (with notional JV) and 2009 (without notional JV) income, which will reduce the effect of the removal of notional JV provisions. By the 2012 RBG allocations, the full effect of the removal of JV will be in place.