Applying and Managing your Grant

Research Grants & Contracts
Your obligations
As your Administering Organisation, UNSW enters into an agreement with the relevant funding body to administer your research grant and comply with the conditions of the agreement. As the first named Investigator, you are responsible for complying with the University’s administrative processes which have been set up to ensure the obligations of the funding agreement are met.
The conduct and timing of the research project

Your project must be carried out as described in your research grant proposal and in accordance with the funding agreements or conditions of the award. You must observe the conditions set out in these documents at all times during the life of your grant. Any significant changes to the project scope, timing, personnel or budget expenditure must be notified to the GMO as soon as practicable. The GMO will review the matter and determine if a variation should be submitted for approval by the Funding Body.

All correspondence to the funding body relating to your grant should be forwarded via the Grants Management Office.


Commencing employment: All funding recipients must be employees of UNSW for the duration of the funding. Research fellows must be placed on a UNSW contract of employment for the funding period. All individuals on UNSW contracts of employment are covered by the relevant Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (or AWA, if applicable, for employees who commenced employment prior to 28 March 2008).

Your Faculty HR Representative [] will prepare letters of offer of employment and set in place any other arrangements relating to appointments.

In submitting HR10 forms to Human Resources it is usual to request appointment for the full length of time for which funds have been provided. Please contact your School Administrator for assistance in completing HR10 forms. A link to HR forms is provided at

Termination of employment: In most cases grant funding cannot be used for severance payments. Severance pay entitlements for fixed-term employees may be available in accordance with Section 15.2.3 of the UNSW (Academic Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2006.  Externally funded fixed term professional staff may be entitled to severance pay in accordance with Section 19.3 and 19.4 of the University of New South Wales (Professional Staff) Enterprise Agreement 2010.  Severance payments are provided via central funding and not through individual schools or centres.

Record Keeping

It is important you keep project records to ensure accountability and transparency. Critical documents pertaining to your management of the project should be kept and be easily accessible.Record keeping makes good business sense to ensure the sustainability of your project should key personnel need to change with little notice. Internal audits may be undertaken randomly on research projects to ensure funding body and University requirements are being met. External auditing may be undertaken by funding bodies.

The InfoEd Grants Management System provides you with access to all data recorded about an application or grant. You can access all records on which you are a named investigator. Documentation kept on InfoEd includes:

  • Project status - received, submitted to sponsor, awarded, funds released, etc
  • All project correspondence and documentation, including contracts and reports
  • Up-to-date financial reports via a direct link to the NSS project record
  • Deadlines for and details of milestone reports and deliverables
Expenditure and Finance

Account and Budget

In order for the Grants Management Office (GMO) to release your research account and budget, the Accepting a Grant steps need to be completed.

Your Faculty Accountant and School/Centre finance staff will assist you with expenditure management throughout the life of the grant, raising purchase orders on your behalf and reimbursing you for costs claimed. Only costs associated with research activities approved for a project can be charged against the research account for that project.


The GMO is responsible for requesting all research income invoicing. If you have completed a Milestone deliverable and need to request a related invoice for issue to your sponsor, contact your Grants Officer at the GMO. Funds from sources other than the Sponsor cannot be invoiced, transferred or journalled into the research account.

Research Finance

Research Finance works in partnership with the Grants Management Office to provide financial and administrative support for research funding.

Financial Reporting

The GMO is responsible for arranging and submitting all research financial statements required by Sponsors. The GMO will contact you ahead of the due date for a financial report to ensure all research project expenditure has been charged to your account. If you require a research financial statement to send to your Sponsor, contact your Grants Officer at the GMO.

The ARC and NHMRC require submission of an annual Financial Statement and Financial Acquittal for each individually funded grant. Research Finance and the GMO prepare and submit ARC & NHMRC financial reports.

Budget costing tool for Clinical Trials 

In 2017 the Office for Health and Medical Research (OHMR) initiated a project to develop a standard Budget Costing Tool for Clinical trials. This work was undertaken as part of the wider in initiative with Advanced Health Research and Translation Committees (AHTRC) and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH) to streamline the governance process for clinical trials through the development of clinical trials support platforms within the AHRTCs (the Clinical Trial Support Unit Project). At the CTSU presentations, we confirm that Sydney Local Health District has worked with OHMR to develop and validate a Budget Cost Tool, based on the successful tool developed by the UK's National Institute of Health Research.

The Purpose of the tool;

  • provide a consistent framework and methodology for cost calculations
  • support swift local site budget negotiation and study set-up
  • support full cost reimbursement of industry studies
  • ensure that departments conducting studies have an accurate picture of the financial implications when conducting a clinical trial so that decisions can be made based on sound information
  • support a proposed policy change that will require all clinical trials to make use of a budget cost tool as part of the set-up process

Access Budget Costing Tool and see further information 

Working with other Australian Universities

In instances where you are collaborating with another Australian University you need to complete the Multi-Institutional Agreement (shared agreement) form and submit to the Grants Management Office.

  • Please see the Forms section to download the MIA form appropriate for your grant.
Forms for Grant Management


Applying For Grants

  • Head of School/Centre Director approval is required for each grant funding proposal submission. Researchers should advise their Head of School/Centre Director of their intention to submit a proposal as early as possible. Approval for submission by the Head of School/Centre Director will be obtained by the GMO via email when a draft proposal is submitted for compliance review.

Accepting Grants

Managing Your Grant


Establishment of Memorandum of Understanding

Ethics & Compliance

Ethics and Other Research Safety Clearances

You must have ethics clearance for all projects using human subjects in any form and for research involving animal subjects. Throughout the duration of your research this clearance must be current and you are responsible for renewing ethics approval over the course of the project.

Clearance must also be obtained for projects involving Risk Group 3 or 4 Micro-Organisms, Genetically Modified Organisms, Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA), Ionising Radiation, Non-Ionising Radiation (e.g. transilluminators), Class 3 or 4 Laser, Poisons, Therapeutic Goods or Drug Addiction (S8), Use of Pentobarbitone Sodium (Lethabarb) (S4), Scheduled 10 Prohibited or Notifiable Carcinogen (NSW WHS Regulation 2011), Design or Manufacture of High Risk Plant or Equipment, Hazardous Chemicals that require health surveillance, Work with Lead (Pb), Work that requires a High Risk Work license (e.g. cranes / scaffolding, hoists / elevated work platforms), Scientific research diving.

Please note: The above approvals, once obtained, do not constitute approval for project commencement. There are a number of other research governance approvals that need to be obtained prior to the commencement of your research. Projects cannot proceed until these approvals have been obtained. For external grant funding this may include a signed contract/agreement (e.g. MIA), execution of the Sponsor’s Funding Agreement, return of a signed acceptance form, etc. If in any doubt, please speak to your Grants Officer for further information.

Finding out more;

Policies and Procedures
Budget Preparation

What is a Budget?

A budget is a full analysis of research project costs- not just the costs requested of a Sponsor. A budget ensures that sufficient resources (such as salaries and on-costs of staff employed to work on the project, student stipends, computing costs, materials and supplies, equipment, freight, communications, services, rent or facility charges, workshops and travel/accommodation) have been considered to complete the research work. It aims to get the sponsor to pay the costs of doing the research project (within Sponsor guidelines), and includes all direct and indirect costs, and in-kind costs.

The budget has two functions:

  1. It estimates, as realistically as possible, the cost of completing the objectives identified in the proposal. The sponsor will use the budget details to determine whether the proposal is economically feasible and realistic.

  2. Provides a means to monitor the project's financial activities over the life of the project. In this way, it's possible to determine how closely the actual progress toward achieving the project objectives is being made relative to the proposed budget.

There is no perfect or best way to do a budget

Many sponsors provide either a form or a format for the budget- this results in 100s of differing budget templates. Whilst it is imperative to follow the sponsors' instructions explicitly, pre-work can be done in a systematic way – this is a transferable skill that you can use regardless of the sponsors’ preference.

Why is an accurate Budget so important?

When writing your research proposal remember:

  • "If you don’t ask for it, you wont get it". This also applies to confusing budgets.
  • A poorly written budget can lead to a variety of issues in the assessment of a grant application.
  • Few research proposal budgets are fully funded, so it is best to start with a well sounded budget.
  • Mapping out the budget in detail can help you to confirm or reassess the project methodology/approach.

Once Awarded:

  • An approved budget gives the authority and boundaries within which your research team can operate with confidence
  • Where each research project has a budget, it allows for the review of total university performance for the coming year and for action to be identified and taken where necessary.
  • The budget will accurately assign each research leader the responsibility for his/her share of the financial performance of each project.
  • The budget is a tool for management control, allowing monitoring and control and corrective action to be taken where necessary.

Common Components of a Budget

  • Personnel - Salaries, and salary on-costs. This includes you, other CIs, research associates/assistants, other administrative/technical staff and PhD students.
  • Consumables - Supplies and materials needed to complete the project: Items usually consumed over a year or within the life of a project. Generally not basic office supplies.
  • Equipment - Specifically for the Project: lab, video and computer equipment.
  • Travel - Field trips/professional meetings: field work, collaborative/professional meetings, governance meetings. Includes mileage, rental car, airfare, hotel and perdiems, conference registration, in-country travel, airport transfers.
  • Subcontracts - Collaborating with another institution/agency.
  • Participant Support - Program Attendees (if allowable): the cost of attendee(s) support for duration of the conference/workshop/program. Includes: travel costs, meals & lodging, attendee stipend.
  • Indirect Costs - The indirect costs to UNSW to undertake the research: insurance, legal, buildings/infrastructure, central administrative support, etc.
  • Other - Cost share (if required): sponsor requires that the institution provide resources to show support for the proposed project (could be a cash contribution or in-kind).
  • Budget Narrative - Budget justification to support the proposed budget.

Budget Writing Toolkit

You will be required to use your UNSW zID and password to access the below documents:

  • GMO Guide - Budget Preparation
  • UNSW Research Pricing Tool - calculate UNSW indirect costs on externally funded research grants and contracts within the scope of the Pricing of Externally Funded Research Procedure
  • Salary Scales for Grant Budgeting- This spreadsheet contains details of UNSW Salary Scales for 2019/ 2020/ 2021. Use the worksheets to budget academic, professional and casual salaries with appropriate on-costs.
  • UNSW Classification Descriptions - General Staff - Provides helpful information for choosing at what level you should hire professional staff. Describes the education, training and experience necessary, the judgement, problem solving skills, supervision and independence required, and indicators of what tasks would be performed at each level and the organisational relationships & impact of the role.
  • UNSW Human Resources-  For assistance in determining appropriate staff hiring levels, researchers are strongly encouraged to speak to the HR representative from their faculty. The HR website is also a resource for Occupational Health and Safety information, HR Forms and Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Managing Foreign Exchange Risks- This document was prepared by UNSW Treasury to explain the risks of income awarded in foreign currency, and the potential difficulties in budgeting if the amount to spend is not constant. If your budget proposal includes foreign currency, consideration must be given to how fluctuations may impact the budget. Contact Andrew Fellowes ( from Treasury to discuss your budget proposal in the first instance. If you are eventually awarded funding, the Grants Management Office will work with Treasury to hedge your funds to minimise fluctuations throughout the life of the grant. 
  • Download advice for making use of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).
  • UNSW Buying Guide - Search for suppliers by category, and view the UNSW "Preferred Suppliers" list. This is a supplier with which UNSW wants to develop a medium/long term relationship, is seen as the main source of those goods or services within UNSW, and has been evaluated by Strategic Procurement.
  • 2018/ 2018 ATO Rates - For a transparent budget, the ATO rates can act as a guide for sourcing travel rates and indicate the maximum amount permitted. You should only request what you know you need - ATO rates are primarily aimed at business travel and as such, may seem high for some destinations. If you have experience travelling to certain areas and thus know what a realistic figure would be, this should be used in place of the ATO rates.
  • UNSW Travel policy and UNSW Travel Procedure - Commercial airlines / travel sites / other travel agents: Travellers may book directly with airlines or through other travel sites e.g. or If travel is booked through these sites, then you must record your travel details in MyTrips as the University is required to maintain a record of where travellers are at any time. 
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

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

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:

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).