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 2018, the Government will provide $1.92 billion to 42 providers as block grants through two programs, the Research Training Program (RTP) and the Research Support Program (RSP).


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 2018, the Government will provide $1.03 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.

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 2018, the Government will provide $894 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.

Research funding, data collection and calculations

2018 Research Block Grant Allocations provides a summary of the research block grant allocations to individual higher education providers in 2018.

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 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.

The department maintains a series of consolidated data-sets related to research block grants. These include Research Block Grant Allocations (2001-2018), HERDC Research Income Data (2004-2016), HDR Completions (2004-2016), Research Training Scheme Student Load (2004-2014), and HERDC Research Publications (1995-2014).

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 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.

Infographics on Research Block Grants, Higher Degree by Research Student Population and Higher Degree by Research Student Outcomes and Satisfaction Released

News | 23 February 2018

2018 Research Block Grant Allocations Released

News | 22 December 2017

The 2018 research block grants allocations have now been announced and are available to be viewed. In 2018 the Government will provide $1.92 billion to 42 higher education providers through two research block grants sub programs, the Research Training Program (RTP) and the Research Support...

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