UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program

UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program

The Scientia Fellowship program is one of the cornerstones of UNSW’s 2025 Strategy. Its aim is to attract and retain the best and brightest people, with outstanding research track records. A primary goal of the program is to enhance UNSW research performance by attracting and retaining exceptional researchers at the highest level relative to career stage and supporting them with a unique development and collaboration package and career pathway commitment.

UNSW’s 2025 Strategy highlights our aspiration to be recognised as an international exemplar in equity, diversity and inclusion and an employer of choice for people from diverse backgrounds. Our aim is to achieve this by embracing the diversity and cultural richness of our communities; ensuring that our staff and students can achieve their full potential in a supportive and inclusive work environment. Our diversity commitment aligns to our strong sense of social responsibility and our belief that a diverse workforce enhances our ability to deliver world class research, teaching excellence and thought leadership. 

Prospective applicants should review the Faculty areas of research focus to determine the closest alignment with their research. Applicants are encouraged to explore the research pages on the website for the relevant Faculty. Program Guidelines and information about how to apply is available at unsw.edu.au/Apply

For more information: 



What is the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program?

The UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program, established as a cornerstone of the UNSW 2025 Strategy, aims to attract and retain the highest research performers on a trajectory to being exceptional research leaders and mentors.

What is the goal of the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program?

The Program aims to enhance the culture of research excellence, mentoring, career development, leadership and community, and to have a positive impact on research output quality, impact and citations metrics and reputation results.

What are the benefits of the Fellowship?

Fellowships will provide a pathway to continuing academic appointment for appointees not already on a continuing appointment.

There will also be a development and collaboration support package of $20,000 to $40,000 per annum and access to a unique range of development opportunities across research, teaching and learning and leadership and engagement relevant to career stage.

Flexibility will be via options for planned exit and re-entry to the UNSW workforce for personal or professional reasons.

What are the expectations around leadership and development?

Scientia Fellows new to UNSW will participate in an introductory program to facilitate their effective transition into UNSW and its research excellence culture. All Fellows will access on average two career development and planning sessions every year throughout their Scientia tenure and follow these up with participation in relevant professional and research development provided through UNSW.

Leadership development for Scientia Fellows will also feature, with the expectation that these skills and experiences enable them to become effective mentors and coaches. Each Fellow will have a centrally supported career coach and mentor appointed at the start of the Fellowship, and Fellows will be expected to participate in mentoring as mentor and mentee.

Can the funding provided support research equipment and consumables?

No. The development and collaboration support package is not intended to provide substantive research support funding as it is expected that recipients will already hold research support from external sources. However, Fellows coming from outside Australia without research funds available may request expenditure for research purposes. It can also be used to partially support relocation costs. The support package cannot be used to fund Research Assistants, purchase materials, or develop infrastructure. 

Are there any other expectations of Fellows?

Fellows will be expected to engage with activities that align with Strategy 2025. These include activities under the three pillars: social engagement, global impact and academic excellence.  Examples include interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and global development.

How many Fellows will be appointed in the Scientia Fellowship Program?

Over the ten year lifespan of the program up to 290 researchers will be appointed into research intensive Fellowships. Up to forty Fellowship appointments will be made at academic levels A to D in 2017 for commencement in 2018.

At what academic level will Scientia Fellows be appointed?

Scientia Fellowships will provide a pathway to continuing academic careers for internal and external applicants entering the program at any point from Level A to C. Appointment at Level D will be considered if there are no significant infrastructure and start-up costs. For Level D appointments requiring significant infrastructure a SHARP application should be submitted. For more information see: https://research.unsw.edu.au/strategic-hires-and-retention-pathways-sharp

Am I able to apply for promotion while in the Scheme?

Yes. Scientia Fellows apply for promotion using the same promotion process as all academic staff. On successful promotion from level A to level B, the support package will increase from $20,000 to $30,000pa. On successful promotion from level B to level C the support package will increase again to $40,000pa.

Will I be expected to teach?

Yes. Scientia Fellows will be expected to include teaching and learning and development in their plans. While these are research-focused Fellowships with research performance criteria for advancing through academic levels, teaching and learning is an essential and valued part of an academic career. The balance of research, teaching and service responsibilities, including postgraduate supervision, expected of Fellows will be negotiated with the relevant Faculty/School (for Faculties in the case of cross-Faculty appointment) at the time of appointment. 

How long are the Fellowships?

Initial Fellowship tenure will be four years for Fellows new to UNSW and three years for Fellows who are current UNSW staff on non-continuing contracts, unless their current fixed-term contract is longer, in which case it will be matched. Fellowship tenure for UNSW internal staff on continuing appointments will be four years. Second and subsequent terms of Fellowships will be awarded for four years for all appointments, on condition that KPTs continue to be met, and for the life of the program. 

What if I am currently on a longer contract with UNSW

If you already hold a contract longer than three years with UNSW, the initial term of the Fellowship will be increased to match the current contract. Second and subsequent terms will be for four years and will be awarded subject to continuing performance against agreed research excellence criteria and for the life of the program.

What if I already have an ongoing appointment with UNSW?

If you already have an ongoing appointment with UNSW, the appointment to Fellowship will be four years in the first instance. Second and subsequent terms will be for four years and will be awarded subject to continuing performance against agreed research excellence criteria and for the life of the program.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Applicants can be internal UNSW staff or external applicants and must hold a doctoral qualification at the time of application.

What are the priority appointment areas?

For 2018 up to fifteen positions will be earmarked for Indigenous Researchers, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines and Interdisciplinary Research in support of the University’s strategic plan. If you identify with one of these priority areas, please note this in the appropriate section of the application form.

How do I apply?

A call for applications will open on 29 May and close on 10 July. All applications must be made through the unsw.edu.au/Apply website. The information required for application is available on the ‘apply now’ site and is summarised in the Guidelines. Applications that are incomplete, or do not follow page, formatting, and content requirements will not be considered.

What are the selection criteria?

Fellows will be selected on the basis of research excellence (relative to opportunity), fit of research proposal with Faculty research areas, and alignment with strategic priorities. In particular, applicants must demonstrate the alignment of their research with Faculty specific areas of focus and Faculty researchers. The Scientia Fellowship Program will also embed diversity in appointment practices to ensure appropriate gender representation, cultural diversity and disciplinary expertise.

When can I start?

Start dates will be negotiated directly with Faculties, with all appointments commencing after January 1, 2018.

Where can I get more information about the research focus of the Faculty?

For further information about the research focus of individual Faculties, please see the links below:

Art and Design                          https://www.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/research

Arts and Social Sciences           https://www.arts.unsw.edu.au/research/research-strengths

Business School                       https://www.business.unsw.edu.au/research/research-strengths

Built Environment                      https://www.be.unsw.edu.au/research-clusters

Engineering                               https://www.engineering.unsw.edu.au/research

Law                                          http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/research

Medicine                                   http://med.unsw.edu.au/research

Science                                    https://www.science.unsw.edu.au/research/research-highlights

UNSW Canberra at ADFA          https://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/research

What are the performance criteria during the Fellowship?

If you are external to UNSW when you apply, clear performance criteria for progression to continuing employment will be developed between the Fellow and UNSW at the commencement of the appointment.

All other Fellows will negotiate performance criteria based on discipline appropriate metrics at entry to the Scientia Fellowship Program.

What if I do not meet the performance targets during the Fellowship?

Those unable to maintain their performance criteria within specified timeframes will be offered a two -year safety net, for performance improvement or to allow time to find alternative employment if not yet on a continuing position.

Will the Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme continue?

No, the VC postdoc scheme will finish once the current appointees complete their tenures. The scheme has been replaced by the Scientia Fellowships, with appointments at level A being the equivalent.  However, the new scheme now provides a pathway to a continuing appointment.

If I am a current VC postdoc, can I apply for a Scientia Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

If I hold another Fellowship, how will my Scientia Fellowship be affected?

If an existing external Fellowship is held, remuneration will top up the difference between that Fellowship and the value of the Scientia Fellowship. Once the existing external Fellowship has ceased, the full amount of the Scientia Fellowship will be provided by the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program.

When will I be notified about the outcome of my application?

Once the appointments have been confirmed, the University will notify all applicants in writing of the outcome of their application. Unsuccessful applicants can expect to be notified by October 2017.

What if I have further questions?

For further information, email scientia.research@unsw.edu.au