Full Cost of University Research

In 2008, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research undertook an initial study to examine the full costs associated with research in universities.

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Given the outcomes of this analysis and in light of the recommendations made by the reviews of the National Innovation System and Australian Higher Education, in 2009 the department carried out further analysis.

The work undertaken in the 2008 and 2009 studies provided important quantitative and qualitative information on the indirect costs of research in Australian universities.

2009 Study

The 2009 study commenced in February 2009 and concluded in July 2009.  The purpose of this study was to:

  • Identify the scale and nature of the indirect cost associated with university research in Australia and the method by which individual universities meet these costs.
  • Prepare a definitive list of the indirect costs associated with university research.
  • Conduct an extensive literature review of indirect cost categories, accounting practices in international universities and the costs incurred in these countries in determining indirect costs.
  • Prepare indicative costing of a composite model for funding the indirect costs associated with university research.
  • Identify the drivers, benefits and obstacles in implementing a funding regime that would fully meet the indirect costs associated with university research.

The study took account of a wide range of factors, including the financial circumstances of individual universities and individual university approaches to meeting the indirect costs of their research activities.

Input to the study was provided by a Project Steering Committee and a Technical Working Group.

The final report of the 2009 Study is available:

As part of the 2009 study, the Allen Consulting Group developed a draft guidance paper outlining some of the key elements required to support an indirect cost framework, including a potential set of indirect cost categories and cost drivers that might be utilised to attribute an appropriate share of indirect costs incurred by Australian universities to Australian Competitive Grant funded research projects.

Some of the Allen Consulting Group's observations in relation to international approaches to addressing indirect costs are outlined in its presentation: International Approaches to the Indirect Costs of Research. International perspectives were also referred to in the draft guidance paper.

2008 Study

Final versions of the Issues and Discussion papers prepared by the Allen Consulting Group are available.

* The observations and views expressed throughout the 2008 and 2009 studies are those of the Allen Consulting Group and do not necessarily reflect the views of the department.