Future Fellowships 
Selection Report for Funding Commencing in 2016

Overview

The Future Fellowships scheme provides funding for outstanding mid-career researchers. It supports research in areas of critical national importance by enabling outstanding Australian and international mid-career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.

The objectives of Future Fellowships scheme are to:

  • ensure that outstanding mid-career researchers are recruited and retained, by Administering Organisations in continuing academic positions;
  • build collaboration across industry and/or research organisations and/or disciplines;
  • support research in national priorities that will result in economic, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits for Australia; and
  • strengthen Australia’s research capacity by supporting innovative, internationally competitive research

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Selection Process

Proposals for funding commencing in 2016 opened on 15 March 2016, and closed on 10 May 2016. Proposals were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines approved recommendations from the selection process for that round.

Funding recommendations have been prepared for submission to the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The recommendations are based on advice from the ARC College of Experts which:

  • assigned independent assessors to review the proposals
  • assessed proposals and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
  • reviewed Applicants’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each proposal relative to the others on the basis of the proposal, the assessors’ reports and Applicants’ responses to those assessments
  • assessed and recommended budgets;

and, advice from the ARC Eligibility Committee which:

  • considered eligibility issues identified by ARC staff, the ARC College of Experts or independent assessors
  • where required, sought clarification from Administering Organisations with respect to issues raised
  • made recommendations to the Acting CEO in respect of ineligible proposals.

This report reflects the approved recommendations by the Minister. Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

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Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Future Fellowships 2016 proposals are:

Future Fellowship Candidate   40%
Project Quality      35%
Strategic Alignment  15%
Collaboration/Outreach  10%

The ARC assessment process for Future Fellowships 2016 used 29 College of Experts members across three discipline panels and was managed in the Research Management System (RMS). A total of 1036 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Future Fellowships 2016.

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Funding levels and duration

Future Fellowships are funded for four consecutive years on a full-time basis. The annual salary contribution may be awarded at one of three salary levels, either $147,862 or $178,992 or $210,120, (2015$) including 30 per cent on-costs. In addition, the ARC may provide up to $50,000 in project costs per annum.

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Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 324 Future Fellowships proposals for funding commencing in 2016, of which one proposal was withdrawn. Of the unsuccessful proposals, seven were found to not meet eligibility requirements.

The overall success rate for Future Fellowships for funding commencing in 2016 is 30.9 per cent.

Table 1. Proposal numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships proposals 2016

Salary Level

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate

Approved funds over project life (all proposals)

Requested funds over project life (approved proposals)

Approved funds over project life (approved proposals)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

Level 1

115

40

34.8%

$88,088,573

$30,601,643

$26,443,400

86.4%

Level 2

114

36

31.6%

$101,632,524

$32,299,675

$28,691,613

88.8%

Level 3

95

24

25.3%

$96,171,493

$24,343,380

$21,888,650

89.9%

Total

324

100

30.9%

$285,892,590

$87,244,698

$77,023,663

88.3%

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Outcomes by discipline panels

Table 2. Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships 2016 proposals by discipline panel

Panel †

Proposals considered

Proposals  approved

Success rate

Requested funds over project life for all proposals considered

Requested funds over project life for approved proposals

Approved funds over project
 life (approved proposals)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

BEM

90

28

31.1%

$79,186,879

$24,412,518

$21,542,875

88.2%

HSE

98

29

29.6%

$88,910,700

$26,306,038

$23,636,194

89.9%

PME

136

43

31.6%

$117,795,011

$36,526,142

$31,844,594

87.2%

Total

324

100

30.9%

$285,892,590

$87,244,698

$77,023,663

88.3%

 BEM—Biological Sciences, Biotechnology, Environmental, Medical and Health Sciences; HSE—Humanities and Creative Arts, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences; PME—Physical, Mathematical and Information Sciences and Engineering

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Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities

Table 3. Approved funding and success rate for Future Fellowships 2016 proposals by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals
approved

Success 
rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Advanced manufacturing

44

12

27.3%

$9,395,108

Cybersecurity

9

2

22.2%

$1,304,000

Energy

18

7

38.9%

$4,951,500

Environmental change

43

20

46.5%

$16,291,342

Food

9

3

33.3%

$2,175,881

Health

49

8

16.3%

$6,405,684

Resources

8

1

12.5%

$880,480

Soil and water

10

2

20.0%

$1,428,000

Transport

3

1

33.3%

$776,000

Unspecified

131

44

33.6%

$33,415,668

Total

324

100

30.9%

$77,023,663

Total within Science and Research Priorities

193

56

29

$43,607,995

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

59.6%

56.0%

 

56.6%

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Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 4. Numbers of proposals and success rates for approved Future Fellowships 2016 proposals by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Australian Capital Territory

41

15

36.6%

$11,637,782

The Australian National University

39

15

38.5%

$11,637,782

University of Canberra

2

0

0.0%

$0

New South Wales

87

25

28.7%

$19,307,859

Macquarie University

12

2

16.7%

$1,457,054

The University of New England

1

1

100.0%

$719,313

The University of New South Wales

22

8

36.4%

$5,847,386

The University of Newcastle

8

1

12.5%

$930,000

The University of Sydney

18

7

38.9%

$5,916,706

University of Technology, Sydney

8

3

37.5%

$2,027,400

University of Wollongong

11

2

18.2%

$1,515,000

Western Sydney University

7

1

14.3%

$895,000

Northern Territory

1

0

0.0%

$0

Charles Darwin University

1

0

0.0%

$0

Queensland

47

13

27.7%

$10,244,250

Griffith University

9

4

44.4%

$3,200,168

James Cook University

2

1

50.0%

$940,000

Queensland University of Technology

6

1

16.7%

$652,000

The University of Queensland

27

7

25.9%

$5,452,082

University of Southern Queensland

2

0

0.0%

$0

University of the Sunshine Coast

1

0

0.0%

$0

South Australia

24

6

25.0%

$5,334,576

The Flinders University of South Australia

5

0

0.0%

$0

The University of Adelaide

12

3

25.0%

$2,730,464

University of South Australia

7

3

42.9%

$2,604,112

Tasmania

7

2

28.6%

$1,332,540

University of Tasmania

7

2

28.6%

$1,332,540

Victoria

100

35

35.0%

$26,406,136

Deakin University

7

3

42.9%

$2,654,992

La Trobe University

9

3

33.3%

$2,061,054

Monash University

40

18

45.0%

$12,978,216

RMIT University

10

3

30.0%

$2,579,108

Swinburne University of Technology

7

1

14.3%

$652,000

The University of Melbourne

27

7

25.9%

$5,480,766

Western Australia

17

4

23.5%

$2,760,520

Curtin University of Technology

6

1

16.7%

$652,000

Murdoch University

2

0

0.0%

$0

The University of Western Australia

9

3

33.3%

$2,108,520

Total

324

100

30.9%

$77,023,663

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Career age and gender

A total of 324 Future Fellowships Candidates were named on all proposals considered in this round. Of these, 97 were female and 226 were male. One Candidate did not provide gender information. The success rate for female and male Candidates is 26.8 per cent and 32.7 per cent respectively (Figure 1).

At the closing time of submission of proposals, of the 324 Candidates, 304 were between five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and 20 were beyond 15 years of the award of their PhD. To be eligible to apply for Future Fellowships, the latter group of researchers evidenced their significant career interruptions on the ARC Eligibility Exemption Request that was consequently scrutinised by the ARC Eligibility Committee and approved by the ARC CEO.

Of the approved Future Fellowships, 93 Candidates were within five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and seven Candidates were beyond 15 years of the award of their PhD.

Success rates of Future Fellowships Candidates by career age and gender in the current round are represented in Figure 1 below. Future Fellowships Candidates who did not provide gender information (0.3 per cent) are not represented in the figure below.

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2016 Candidates by gender and career age*

 Alt-text for Figure 1: Chart showing participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2016 Candidates by gender and career age—where age is calculated as years since PhD. The chart only shows up to 16 plus years since PhD and female per cent figure is represented in dark pink whilst the male per cent figure is represented in blue.

* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

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Attracting and retaining outstanding researchers

Proposals were open to Eligible Organisations to nominate Candidates who are outstanding mid-career researchers of international repute, resident either within Australia or overseas.

Table 5. Citizenship/residency status of Future Fellowships 2016 Candidates and approved Awardees

Citizenship/residency status

Proposals considered

% of Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Foreign Nationals

51

15.7%

15

29.4%

Resident Australians

252

77.8%

79

31.3%

Returning Australians

21

6.5%

6

28.6%

Total

324

100%

100

30.9%

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International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 846 instances of collaboration with researchers in 64 overseas locations on 298 proposals. Of the proposals approved for funding, 97 foreshadowed 316 instances of collaboration with researchers in 42 overseas locations.

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Future Fellowships 2016 proposals

 Alt-text for Figure 2: Chart showing instances of international collaborations with specific countries in approved Future Fellowships 2016 proposals.  United States of America, 69 England, 40 Germany, 33 France, 19 Canada, 15 Japan, 13 China (excludes SARs and Taiwan), 12 Netherlands, 12 Singapore, 10 Spain, 9 Other, 84

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