Which Australian universities get the research dollars provided by the Australian Research Council? In Discovery Grants Announcement 2006 data are provided. A total of 1,214 new projects were funded in 2006 from 4,498 applications for total new funding of $370 million from 2006-2010. Total funding of new and pre-existing projects over the same period by the ARC was $556 million.
In all 917 new Discovery Grants (grants to individual researchers or projects) were funded for the period 2006-2010 costing $274 million while 194 new Linkage Grants (grants that link industry with universities) were funded worth $84 million. The average Discovery grant was $299,000 while the average ARC contribution towards Linkage Grants was $434,000.
Discovery Grants went mainly to the ‘Group of Eight’ Universities (Monash, ANU, Adelaide, Melbourne, UNSW, Queensland, Sydney and UWA) who got 73% of the total by value. These universities made 71% of all applications and 78% of all successful applications.
Among the non-'Group of Eight' universities, leading grant-getters were Curtin, Macquarie, QUT, Newcastle, Tasmania, UTS and Wollongong. The three NSW universities Macquarie, Newcastle and Wollongong were all successful 'smaller' universities snaring over $7 million apiece.
My own LaTrobe University’s performance seems poor. For a fairly large university the number of applications was small at 68, the success rate at 16%, well below the average of 25% and the average grant obtained at $167,000 was only 56% of the overall average. There seemed to be low effort towards securing grants and the success of grants, in terms of the fraction that got something and the size of successful grants, seemed poor. This is not true for the Department of Economics and Finance, where I work, where reasonably successful outcomes have prevailed. But for the university as a whole, it seems time for a rethink!