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Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia

Contains data on expenditure and human resources devoted to research and development (R&D) carried out by higher education organisations in Australia

Reference period
2018

Higher education resources devoted to research and experimental development (R&D)

  • Expenditure on R&D performed by Australian higher education organisations during the 2018 calendar year was $12,158 million.
  • Higher education expenditure on R&D (HERD) increased by 12% in current price terms and 9% in chain volume terms from 2016.
  • HERD as a proportion of GDP remained stable at 0.62% over a two year period.
     

Higher education resources devoted to R&D

   200820102012201420162018
Expenditure on R&D       
 Current prices$m
6 844
8 161
9 610
10 145
10 878
12 158
 Chain volume measures(a)$m
8 842
9 784
10 861
10 888
11 172
12 158
Human resources devoted to R&DPYE
61 773
69 392
74 669
78 038
79 008
81 717
a. The reference year for chain volume measures is 2018. Refer to the Chain volume measures section of the Explanatory Notes for details.
 

Subsequent expenditure figures and supporting commentary relate to current price terms.

Higher education expenditure on R&D (HERD)

Type of expenditure

  • HERD included $11,165 million (92%) in current expenditure and $992 million (8%) in capital expenditure. Compared with 2016, current expenditure increased $1,036 million (10%) and capital expenditure increased $244 million (33%).
  • Labour costs were the largest component of HERD, totalling $5,274 million (43%), followed by other current expenditure which totalled $4,984 million (41%). Compared with 2016, labour costs recorded the largest dollar increase, up $499 million (10%), followed by other current expenditure, up $428 million (9%).
     

Source of funds

  • The two main sources of funds for HERD were general university funds ($6,823 million or 56% of HERD) and other Commonwealth government funding ($1,891 million or 16% of HERD).
     

Location

Location of expenditure relates to the main campus or head office location of the reporting institution, with the exception of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Please refer to the Location of R&D section of the Explanatory Notes for further information.

  • Higher education institutions based in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland made up just over three quarters (76%) of HERD (at $3,762 million, $3,430 million and $2,000 million, respectively).
  • All states recorded an increase in 2018, with New South Wales recording the largest dollar increase, up $536 million (17%).
     
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HERD and Gross State Product (GSP)

  • The Australian Capital Territory had the largest increase in HERD as a proportion of GSP (0.10%).
     

HERD, by location of expenditure - proportion of GSP(a)

 NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT
 %%%%%%%%
2016
0.56
0.77
0.58
0.69
0.39
0.66
0.29
1.67
2018
0.60
0.75
0.54
0.75
0.39
0.62
0.29
1.77
a. Refer to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross State Product (GSP) section of the Explanatory Notes for details.
 

Type of activity

  • The distribution of HERD across type of activity remained steady in 2018. The largest component was Applied research totalling $5,884 million (48% of HERD), followed by Pure basic research at $2,769 million (23%), Strategic basic research at $2,167 million (18%) and Experimental development at $1,338 million (11%).
     

Fields of Research (FOR)

  • Almost a third of HERD was devoted to the Medical and Health Sciences FOR ($3,722 million or 31%).
  • The top four Fields of Research, in terms of expenditure, remained unchanged from 2016. Medical and Health Sciences, Engineering, Biological Sciences and Studies in Human Society made up just over half (53%) of total HERD (at $3,722 million, $1,245 million, $960 million and $558 million, respectively).
     

Socio-economic Objective (SEO)

  • The distribution of HERD across SEO was largely unchanged from 2016. A third of HERD was directed towards Health ($4,131 million or 34%). The next most prevalent SEO was Expanding Knowledge ($2,006 million or 16%).
  • Health recorded the largest dollar increase of $426 million (11%), followed by Expanding Knowledge, up $368 million (22%).
     

Higher education human resources devoted to R&D

  • Australian higher education institutions devoted a total of 81,717 person years of effort (PYE) to R&D in 2018, an increase of 2,709 PYE (3%) from 2016.
  • More than half of the human resources devoted to R&D were Postgraduate students (56%) with the remainder being Academic staff (30%) and Other staff supporting R&D (14%).
  • New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland accounted for three quarters (76%) of total human resources devoted to R&D.

Data downloads

Higher education resources devoted to R&D, summary statistics, 2018

Higher education expenditure on R&D, by location, by type of expenditure, 2018

Higher education expenditure on R&D, by location, by source of funds, 2018

Higher education expenditure on R&D, by location, by type of activity, 2018

Higher education expenditure on R&D, by location, by fields of research, 2018

Higher education expenditure on R&D, by location, by socio-economic objective, 2018

Higher education human resources devoted to R&D, by location, by type of resource, 2018