About Research Grants & Contracts

Research Grants and Contracts (RGC) contributes to UNSW’s research performance and profile via the effective management of the University’s research income; this is achieved through the management of applications, grants, contracts, consulting research and internal funding. The RGC is the key link between UNSW’s researchers, executive and funding agencies such as the NHMRC, ARC, philanthropic grant funders and industry partners.

There are three distinct groups who work collaboratively within the overarching RGC office (See our Organisation Chart).The RGC teams work closely with colleagues from the Finance, Legal, Research Strategy Office and the Division of Enterprise.

  • The Grants Management Office (GMO) teams have an in depth knowledge of funding rules, variation and reporting principles. The teams work with researchers to ensure that all grant applications comply with sponsor requirements, are submitted on time and that researchers holding funding meet all sponsor financial and progress reporting requirements, that funded projects are set up and managed meeting both UNSW and the funders policies, and that information stored in the management system is accurate and reliable.
  • The Research Contracts Office (RCO) team have a strong understanding and working knowledge of research agreements; they provide reviews, advice and negotiate research and other consulting agreements and contracts when an industry partner is involved. RCO also provides specialist advice as required to facilitate the effective functioning of the overall Research Grants and Contracts Office.
  • The Operations Team work closely with Grants, Contracts and System teams to ensure the accurate creation and maintenance of the University’s research records for the efficient management and reporting of research funding. Operations team are responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the funding agency database and associated fund codes to assist with the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).

In 2017 Research Grants & Contracts:

  • Submitted 1675 submitted grant applications  (840 over a 3 month period in Q1)
  • Managed 5286 successful projects (grants & contracts) under management
  • 1410 of the projects involved legal agreements (232 with support from the Legal Office)


Our Mission 

Research is a key objective of the UNSW academic endeavours and the effective management of UNSW's research funding has a significant impact on UNSW's 2025 Strategy aspiration to be Australia's global university.

Research Grants & Contracts will provide high quality services, support and advice to facilitate the University's research endeavours. This includes providing effective advice, systems and processes allowing the successful grant application process, initiation and ongoing management of research projects and the delivery of reports and recommendations in relation to research issues to the Divisional and University Executive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who do I contact about my grant application?

All competitive grant applications must be sent to the GMO at least 2 weeks prior to the external due date for compliance review, so that Head of School (HOS) approval for submission and any internal signatures/approvals can be obtained.The required period may be longer than 2 weeks for some schemes including the ARC and NHMCR and where internal ranking is required prior to submission (i.e. where the funding body imposes limits on the number of applications UNSW can submit as an institution). For major application rounds (e.g. ARC Discovery Projects & NHMRC Project Grants), you will receive an email from the GMO well in advance, advising of important dates including the internal deadline by which the GMO should receive your draft proposal for review. Please contact the Grants Officer responsible for your School/Centre email mygrants.gmo@unsw.edu.au.

Who do I contact for contract research and consultancy support?

The Research Contracts Office (RCO) look after all contract research and research consultancies. Non-research consultancies are generally handled at the School level. Depending on your requirement, please contact the relevant RCO staff member or email researchcontracts@unsw.edu.au

Who can help me with advice on my Funding Application?

The Research Strategy Office (RSO) provides strategic advice and support to assist in developing all competitive funding applications. For strategic advice and support with your application please contact: Grants.RSO@unsw.edu.au

What are Indirect Costs and do I need to add them to my proposal budget?

Indirect costs (ICRs) represent an estimate of the cost of conducting research at UNSW. Indirect costs include research infrastructure, facilities and services that are used to undertake research projects including the provision and maintenance of buildings and physical infrastructure, information resources and technology, telecommunications, insurance and legal services, financial management services, security, research management and support services, other central and faculty administrative services. Indirect cost recovery applies to all externally funded research projects (competitive & contract) except the following:

  • Grants on the Australian Competitive Grants Register (ACGR);
  • Core operating/infrastructure grants for UNSW Centres or facilities;
  • Major equipment (>$150,000 per item);
  • Partner organisation contributions to ACGR projects;
  • Research projects funded by a Cooperative Research Centre where UNSW is a named participant and UNSW indirect costs are included in UNSW in-kind contribution;
  • Competitive research grant sponsors/schemes that do not allow minimum UNSW indirect cost recovery.

What is the different between salary on-costs and indirect costs?

Salary on-costs are a direct cost of UNSW paying a salary to staff. The on-cost rate (29.42% for employees appointed permanently or contracted for 2 or more years; 21.51% for employees on contracts for less than 2 years) are comprised of superannuation, payroll tax, leave loading, provision for long service leave and workers compensation. These are actual expenses incurred by UNSW, and you must ensure on-costs are included when calculating salary expenses in your budget. Indirect costs represent an estimate of the cost of conducting research at UNSW. It covers general items that you would not normally include as specific project expenses in your budget (please see FAQ 3).

My project was funded, when can I start spending my money?

Prior to the release of your project funds there are a number of things that need to occur:

  • The first named Chief Investigator is required to complete an Acceptance of Grant (AOG) form to provide the necessary information regarding the project, including ethics approvals, conflict of interest and distribution of funding.
  • The university is required to enter into an agreement with the sponsor (please see FAQ 6.)
  • When the funding agreement is signed and a complete AOG received, the GMO will liaise with Research Finance to open an account to receive the funds and prepare a Budget Release Confirmation (BRC).
  • The BRC is a document generated by the GMO that contains a summary of the most important aspects of the funding agreement, i.e. funds awarded, deliverables, ethics approval required, as well information on how the grant should be managed over its duration. A GMO Grants Officer will send you a copy of the BRC and notify you that your funds are available after Research Finance has opened your project account.

Who reviews and signs grant funding agreements?

This is the responsibility of the Research Grants & Contracts Office. Please send any grant funding agreement you receive from a funding sponsor to the GMO Team Leader responsible for your School or Centre. The GMO Team Leader manages the agreement review process including referral to the UNSW Legal Office if necessary. Once the agreement is finalised the GMO Director holds the delegation to sign the agreement on behalf of UNSW (researchers and schools must not sign agreements).

Why do I need to complete an Acceptance of Grant form (even for a project where only in-kind is involved)?

A completed Acceptance of Grant (AoG) Form is required for all research projects being managed by the Grants Management Office. The purpose of the AoG is to ensure that important details are captured and approvals obtained for each project researchers are working on, irrespective of any funding coming to the University. The AoG requests details of ethics approvals and safety clearance requirements so that UNSW can meet its obligations in relation to monitoring of these approvals. The AoG is approved by the Head of School confirming that there are adequate resources for the project to proceed and the ethics and safety approvals required. This form also ensures that researchers are aware of their general obligations in relation to UNSW research related Policies.

I am not sure when I will need ethics approval, what date do I enter on my Acceptance of Grant Form?

If ethics approval for your research is required you must include this information in your AOG. An estimate date is sufficient if you are unsure of the exact date you will need to have ethics approval by. You will receive an automated reminder 2 weeks prior to the ethics due date you have supplied & the date can be amended at that time, if required. You must not start research requiring ethics approval until you have received written approval from the relevant Research Ethics Panel/Committee. Consultations, staff recruitment and literature reviews to determine the scope of your project can often occur prior to applying for ethics approval.

Where do I find the classification FOR & SEO codes (6 digit codes) necessary to complete the Acceptance of Grant form?

The Fields of Research (FOR) codes and the Socio Economic Objectives (SEO) codes can be found at these links on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Website. To access the 6 digit codes you need to Select: Section > then scroll down to select Subsection > find the right Objective/Research Field.

When should I enter the distribution of funding on the Acceptance of Grant form?

If income is to be shared with a UNSW co-investigator outside your School/Centre for HERDC purposes then you should complete this table. Do not complete the table for distribution of funds outside UNSW (e.g. to another University) or if you require a separate research account (sub-project) to be established for your other UNSW investigator(s).