Research Block Grants


In 2017, the Australian Government will provide $1.89 billion to higher education providers as block grants to support research and research training, through two performance-based programs under the Higher Education Support Act (HESA) 2003.

New arrangements for research block grants for 2017

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), new funding arrangements have replaced the previous six research block grants with two streamlined programs:

  • Research Support Program (RSP) replaces the Research Infrastructure Block Grants, Joint Research Engagement and the Sustainable Research Excellence.   
  • Research Training Program (RTP) replaces the Australian Postgraduate Awards, International Postgraduate Research Scholarships and the Research Training Scheme.

The changes are in response to the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements led by Dr Ian Watt AC, and also address a number of recommendations from the Review of Australia’s Research Training System undertaken by the Australian Council of Learned Academies.

The previous research block grant arrangements ceased on 31 December 2016. Information on the new programs is below:

Further Information for students

If you have further queries regarding the new research block grant arrangements you may wish to visit the Research Training Program - Frequently Asked Questions for students.

The department has also developed a factsheet for APA, IPRS and RTS students that have transitioned to equivalent RTP scholarships.

Further information for university administrators

Detailed information on the new research block grant arrangements and Research Training Program - Frequently Asked Questions for university administrators are available.

The department held a webinar on Friday 11 November 2016 concerning changes to research block grants for 2017. This webinar can be accessed from the gotowebinar website (note: users are required to enter a name and email address to access the recording). The department has also prepared a series of slides that were used for the webinar.

Research funding, data collection and calculations

Participating universities receive a single annual grant amount (block) for each program and are responsible for administering the programs within broad guidelines.

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 Grant amounts under the research block grant schemes are driven entirely by metrics.

The Australian Competitive Grants Register (ACGR) lists schemes that provide competitive research grants to higher education providers. The income providers receive from schemes listed on the ACGR is a metric used in driving the allocation of the research block grants.

Programs ceasing on 1 January 2017

The following programs ceased on 31 December 2016:

  • Australian Postgraduate Awards
  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarships
  • Research Training Scheme
  • Joint Research Engagement
  • Research Infrastructure Block Grants
  • Sustainable Research Excellence

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

More Information

Administration of the RBG

The RBG is administered by:

  • Research Funding and Policy Branch
  • Research and Economic Group
  • Australian Government Department of Education and Training

Enquiries can be emailed to:


The following is a list of all the news items that are associated with Research Block Grants.

New indicators for reporting higher degree by research students

News | 26 September 2017

From 2018, the department will introduce three new Higher Degree by Research (HDR) indicators to be collected under the Higher Education Data Collection to improve monitoring of the research training system. The first two indicators relate to the submission and completion of a student's thesis. ...

Draft 2018 HERDC Specifications Released

News | 19 May 2017

The Department of Education and Training (the department) has released the Draft 2018 HERDC Specifications. In releasing these specifications ahead of the usual process, the department is aiming to finalise the definitions for 2017 data as early as possible, allowing universities the maximum...

Infographics on Pathway Models Released.

News | 19 May 2017

Research Block Grants has recently released two infographics looking at pathway models and funding for HDR students based on 2014 graduates. ...

2017-18 Budget: Implications for Research Block Grants

News | 17 May 2017

The Government released its 2017-18 Budget which includes a number of measures related to higher education reform.

Higher Degree by Research graduates receive high employer satisfaction ratings

News | 18 April 2017

Minister announces 2017 Research Block Grant allocations

News | 21 December 2016

New arrangements for research block grants in 2017

News | 21 October 2016

Sharpening incentives for research engagement

News | 6 May 2016

The department has released a consultation paper seeking the views of universities and other stakeholders on options to implement changes to Research Block Grants