Submission to Draft 2015 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications

Submission to Draft 2015 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications

13th February, 2015

The draft 2015 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications include important changes that will mean universities will no longer be able to include the research income of grants they administer on behalf of affiliated organisations, such as independent medical research institutes (iMRIs), in their HERDC returns unless they have a bona fide paid employment arrangement with the staff of the affiliated organisation (and then only commensurate with the proportion of the staffs’ salaries paid by the university).

In isolation, these changes will have wide-ranging negative impacts on both the higher education sector and other parts of the research sector, including:

  • almost halving the rate of Commonwealth funding for indirect research costs to all iMRIs due to increased demand on the capped Independent Research Institute Infrastructure Support Scheme (IRIISS);
  • cutting off all Commonwealth funding for indirect research costs to research-active hospitals;
  • rendering current affiliation agreements between universities, iMRIs and hospitals invalid, and potentially disrupting academic health partnerships;
  • reducing some universities’ positions in international rankings and their ability to attract the best students and researchers; and
  • potentially stifling research collaborations, including with industry and health services, and encouraging silos over integrated approaches.

In its submission, AAMRI urges the Department of Education and Training to delay implementation of the proposed changes to HERDC Specifications to provide time for a more considered, whole-of-government approach to comprehensive reform of the indirect cost funding system to the benefit of the Government, the research sector and ultimately the Australian community.

You can download AAMRI’s full submission below.