The Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) is comprised of R&D income submitted by universities to the Commonwealth Government each year, and is used by the Commonwealth to determine the University’s share of Research Block Grants.
What is research income?
Research & experimental developmental (R&D) income is income that is provided specifically to undertake or support research. This may be provided in the following forms:
- agreed payments for completed milestones,
- salary recharges where the salary is for staff undertaking or supporting research,
- expense reimbursement, where the expenses are incurred for research purposes,
- travel reimbursement, where the travel is for the purposes of conducting research or accessing a program of research, but not if the travel is to attend a meeting, workshop or conference.
In order for the University to maximise its share of funding it must ensure that all research income is being captured. Only income coded to research account codes is picked up for the HERDC return. These codes are as follows:
- 1181-1211: Category 1 – Australian competitive grant R&D income
- 1221-1242: Category 2 – Other public sector R&D income
- 1251-1264: Category 3 – Industry & other R&D income
- 1281: Category 4 – Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs)*
- 1286: Research royalties
Account codes 1243 ARC Research Networks, 1253 Research funds from other Universities and 1301 ARC Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities are not picked up for the HERDC as these are specifically excluded in the HERDC specifications.
Regarding account code 1253 please note that if an invoice is raised to another Australian University for funds provided by a third party, these can be included and should be coded according to the original source of the funds.
For example, if an invoice is raised to UniSA for State Government funds it should be coded to 1231 State Government.
* excluding the Ineligible sources of allocation of cash funds sourced from Australian Higher Education Providers (HEPS) or subsidiaries of Australian HEPS
How you can assist the University in maximising its research income
Billers have a direct impact on whether income is included in the HERDC return. In order to maximise the research income reported billers must ensure that all research income is coded using the account codes above. By maximising the HERDC research income in the Faculty or School the value of research block grants that flow to the Faculty and School are also maximised.
Researchers can assist in this process by indicating that income is to be billed as research income when requesting invoices to be raised.
Research Accounting will review certain non-research income account codes for possible research income. This review will look at non-research invoices raised to research project codes only. However, due to the number of transactions to review this process will not pick up all corrections that need to be made.
To assist in capturing all research income correctly, please consider the following when raising or requesting invoices:
- If the income is going to be or has been spent on research it is highly likely that it can be claimed as HERDC income;
- If the invoice is being raised in accordance with an agreement, check whether the agreement has a component of research – it may be possible to code some of the income as research, even if the overall project is considered to be non-research;
- If the invoice is for expense reimbursement and is being coded to a research project code, it can more than likely be included as HERDC income;
- Similarly with salary recharges – if the salary is being charged to a research project we should be able to claim the salary recharge as HERDC income;
- If the invoice is raised to another Australian University, is it for University or 3rd party funds;
- Any research income that is not specifically excluded in the HERDC guidelines (as listed below) can be included.
A full copy of the HERDC Specifications can be downloaded from the Department of Education & Training website.
People to contact
What is the HERDC definition of R&D?
Below is a definition of research & experimental development (R&D) taken from Section 3 of the HERDC specifications (in draft):
R&D is defined as creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge –including knowledge of humankind, culture and society – and to devise new applications of available knowledge.
Activities that meet the definition of R&D include:
- professional, technical, administrative or clerical support staff directly engaged in activities essential to the conduct of R&D
- the activities of HDR students enrolled at the HEP
- the development of HDR training and courses
- the supervision of HDR students enrolled at the HEP
- R&D into applications software, new programming languages and new operating systems
- prototype development and testing
- construction and operation of a pilot plant where the primary objective is to make further improvements
- trial production where there is full scale testing and subsequent further design and engineering
- phases I to III of clinical trials
- non-traditional research creative arts including original creative works, live performance of creative works, recorded or rendered works, and curated exhibitions or events.
Activities that do not meet the definition of R&D include:
- scientific and technical information services
- general purpose or routine data collection
- standardisation and routine testing
- feasibility studies (except into R&D projects)
- specialised, routine medical care
- literature reviews that are predominantly a summary of the current knowledge and findings of a particular R&D field or topic and do not include any critical assessment or report any new findings or original experimental work
- commercial, legal and administrative aspects of patenting, plant breeders rights, copyright, material transfer agreements or intellectual property licensing, option and assignment activities, and royalties
- routine computer programming, systems work or software maintenance
- stages of product development that do not meet the five R&D criteria above
- pre-production development
- market research
- construction of fully tested prototypes for marketing purposes
- after sales service and trouble-shooting
- industrial engineering and design for production purposes
What research income can be included within the HERDC?
- Stipends and scholarships for HDR students enrolled at the HEP, unless explicitly excluded in section 4.2.2. Donations specifically for HDR scholarships should be treated as scholarship income.
- Income derived from the provision of R&D services (exclusive of GST).
- Travel grants where funds are provided specifically for the purpose of travel and used to enable access to a program of R&D. Researchers using the funds are expected to be active participants in the R&D program, rather than observers or visitors.
- Income derived from the investment of, and interest earned from, donations, bequests and endowments available for the expenditure on R&D. Research infrastructure income including funding for equipment purchase, installation, maintenance, hire and lease, non-capital aspects of facilities such as laboratories, libraries, computing centres, animal houses, herbaria, and experimental farms and grants for specific and specialised equipment used for the conduct of R&D (unless explicitly excluded in section 4.2.2).
- Income from non-Australian HEPs provided specifically for the conduct of R&D.
- Income received in support of the R&D activities and training of HDR students enrolled at the HEP. This includes funds providing the cost of a student’s HDR fee-paying place, but excludes HDR student fee income, Commonwealth supported places or places funded by the Research Training Program (RTP).
- Where a HEP receives income (such as a general or untied grant or a multi-purpose industry contract) that provides for activities other than R&D, the HEP may report the proportion of that grant that can be clearly and transparently attributed to the direct costs of conducting R&D.
For further details about the types of research income that may not be included within the HERDC, please refer to Section 4 of the HERDC specifications (in draft).