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Due to the importance of the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) driving the allocation of research block grants, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) regularly examines features of the collection.
In this respect, and building on the 2009 Review of Joint Venture income, DIISR undertook a review of allowable inclusions of Other Public Sector Research Income (Category 2) within the HERDC.
With the refocussing of the Institutional Grants Scheme into Joint Research Engagement scheme in 2010, increased emphasis was placed on Category 2 research income as a driver of research block grant funding allocations. Fundamental to this reform is sector confidence that the income being included is fit for purpose.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference were as follows:
- Examine the purpose of Category 2 research income in the HERDC, the associated definitions and the resulting specifications of income that should be included.
- Examine sources of income currently reported by higher education providers (HEP) as Category 2 against the HERDC definition of research income.
- Undertake a number of audits of Category 2 income returns for the purposes of clarifying the appropriate inclusions and exclusions in this category.
- Provide advice to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research on outcomes from the review and proposed solutions to any identified problems.
The review was undertaken by DIISR. In early April 2010, the department released an issues paper to the sector which outlined the context, purpose and method of the review. The department also received detailed information from all 41 HEPs about their 2008 Category 2 Research Income.
Outcome of the Review
The department’s analysis showed that the Category 2 ‘Other Public Sector Research Income’ is robust as a metric in helping drive the allocation of the Australian Government’s research block grants to eligible HEPs.
The review also confirmed that HEPs support their research from a variety of funding sources outside of their research-specific project grants and that there are genuine circumstances where HEPs receive general or untied funding which involves funding to support the conduct of research.
The draft 2011 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications take account of the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research’s decisions regarding this review, and specifically, about the future treatment of general or untied income for research purposes under the HERDC.