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 2020, the Government is providing $1.96 billion to 42 providers as block grants through two programs, the Research Training Program (RTP) and the Research Support Program (RSP).


Changes to Research Block Grant arrangements to support universities and students during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

The Government is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on universities and higher degree by research (HDR) students. In considering sector feedback, the Government has agreed to the following changes to provide additional support to the sector:

  • Current transitional arrangements for research block grants will be extended by 12 months until 31 December 2021 to provide for continued stability in university research.
  • Extensions will be available for Research Training Program scholarships for up to six months. This will enable universities to provide more time to HDR students whose research projects have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions to complete their courses.


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 2020, the Government will provide $1.05 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 2020, the Government will provide $910 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.

2020 HERDC Smart Forms for the Collection of 2019 Data

2020 Smart Forms are now available for the reporting of the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC)

Returns are due by 30 June 2020.

Research funding, data collection and calculations

2020 Research Block Grant Allocations provides a summary of the research block grant allocations to individual higher education providers in 2020.

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 department maintains a series of consolidated data-sets related to research block grants. These include Research Block Grant Allocations (2001-2020), HERDC Research Income Data (1994-2018), and HDR Completions (1989-2018).

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

  • Data used in current and historical research block grant allocations
  • Reviews studies, consultation papers and evaluations

Administration of the RBG

The RBG is administered by:

  • Research Policy and Programs Branch
  • Higher Education Division
  • Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Enquiries can be emailed to:


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

Final 2020 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications released

News | 6 January 2020

2020 Research Block Grant Allocations Released

News | 18 December 2019

New data on engagement between research students and businesses

News | 20 November 2019

New data has been published which shows the level of engagement by PhD and Research Masters students with businesses and other end-users of research.

Draft 2020 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications released

News | 2 October 2019

2019 Research Block Grant Allocations Released

News | 17 December 2018

Draft 2019 HERDC Specifications and consultation paper released

News | 19 September 2018

Release of extended HERDC data

News | 4 May 2018

The department has recently undertaken a process to consolidate the historical data submitted by higher education providers through the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC). As a result, an additional 10 years of HERDC research income data and 9 years of research publications data...

2018 Australian Competitive Grants Register (ACGR) is now available.

News | 2 April 2018

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