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
  • strengthen Australia’s research capacity by supporting innovative, internationally competitive research.

Selection Process

Proposals for funding commencing in 2017 opened on 18 October 2016 and closed on 7 December 2016. Proposals were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines approved from the selection process for that round.

The ARC has prepared funding recommendations for submission to the 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 candidates’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each proposal relative to the others on the basis of the proposal, the assessors’ reports and candidates’ 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 Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Future Fellowships 2017 proposals are:

Future Fellowship Candidate (40%)
Project Quality (35%)
Feasibility and Strategic Alignment (10%)
Benefit and Collaboration/Outreach (15%)

The ARC assessment process for Future Fellowships 2017 used 28 College of Experts members across three discipline panels and was managed in RMS. A total of 791 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Future Fellowships 2017.

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 $150,376 or $182,035 or $213,693, (2016$) including 30 per cent on-costs. In addition, the ARC may provide up to $50,000 in project costs per annum.

Summary of Outcomes

The ARC received a total of 295 Future Fellowships proposals for funding commencing in 2017, of which one proposal was withdrawn. Of the unsuccessful proposals, three were found to not meet eligibility requirements.

The overall success rate for Future Fellowships for funding commencing in 2017 is 31.0 per cent.

Table 1.    Proposal numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships proposals 2017

Salary Level

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate

Requested 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

95

28

29.5%

$73,678,537

$21,968,208

$20,391,718

92.8%

Level 2

116

34

29.3%

$105,155,899

$30,818,921

$28,740,810

93.3%

Level 3

83

29

34.9%

$85,174,935

$29,717,402

$27,871,578

93.8%

Total

294

91

31.0%

$264,009,371

$82,504,531

$77,004,106

93.3%

Outcomes by discipline panels

Table 2.  Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships 2017 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

75

25

33.3

$66,917,750

$21,914,133

$20,779,045

94.8

HSE

96

28

29.2

$88,990,524

$26,533,834

$24,820,854

93.5

PME

123

38

30.9

$108,101,097

$34,056,564

$31,404,207

92.2

Total

294

91

31.0

$264,009,371

$82,504,531

$77,004,106

93.3

 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

Outcomes by Science and Research Priorities

Table 3. Approved funding and success rate for Future Fellowships 2017 proposals by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals

approved

Success 
rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Advanced manufacturing

47

8

17.0

$6,414,334

Cybersecurity

8

1

12.5

$746,004

Energy

14

4

28.6

$3,580,000

Environmental change

41

14

34.1

$11,717,934

Food

5

1

20.0

$780,000

Health

44

11

25.0

$9,324,421

Resources

7

2

28.6

$1,732,952

Soil and water

6

2

33.3

$2,039,128

Transport

3

2

66.7

$1,689,351

Unspecified

119

46

38.7

$38,979,982

Total

294

91

31.0

$77,004,106

Total within Science and Research Priorities

175

45

25.7

$38,024,124

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

59.5

49.5

 

49.4

Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 4.    Numbers of proposals and success rates for approved Future Fellowships 2017 proposals by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Australian Capital Territory

18

8

44.4

$6,448,222

The Australian National University

17

8

47.1

$6,448,222

University of Canberra

1

0

0.0

$0

New South Wales

78

27

34.6

$23,349,506

Australian Catholic University

1

0

0.0

$0

Macquarie University

9

3

33.3

$2,305,312

Southern Cross University

2

1

50.0

$1,016,000

The University of New South Wales

31

13

41.9

$11,179,256

The University of Newcastle

5

2

40.0

$1,708,140

The University of Sydney

15

5

33.3

$4,521,055

University of Technology Sydney

5

1

20.0

$816,000

University of Wollongong

7

1

14.3

$900,000

Western Sydney University

3

1

33.3

$903,743

Northern Territory

1

1

100.0

$692,830

Charles Darwin University

1

1

100.0

$692,830

Queensland

58

18

31.0

$15,591,271

Griffith University

9

1

11.1

$998,804

James Cook University

3

1

33.3

$760,000

Queensland University of Technology

9

1

11.1

$808,140

The University of Queensland

34

14

41.2

$12,124,327

University of the Sunshine Coast

3

1

33.3

$900,000

South Australia

16

5

31.3

$4,131,642

The Flinders University of South Australia

2

0

0.0

$0

The University of Adelaide

12

4

33.3

$3,143,670

University of South Australia

2

1

50.0

$987,972

Tasmania

1

0

0.0

$0

University of Tasmania

1

0

0.0

$0

Victoria

97

26

26.8

$21,613,483

Deakin University

6

2

33.3

$1,812,085

La Trobe University

7

1

14.3

$940,000

Monash University

38

14

36.8

$11,582,629

RMIT University

10

0

0.0

$0

Swinburne University of Technology

4

2

50.0

$1,359,334

The University of Melbourne

32

7

21.9

$5,919,435

Western Australia

25

6

24.0

$5,177,152

Curtin University

11

4

36.4

$3,540,152

Murdoch University

2

0

0.0

$0

The University of Western Australia

12

2

16.7

$1,637,000

Total

294

91

31.0

$77,004,106

Career age and gender

A total of 294 Future Fellowships Candidates were named on all proposals considered in this round. Of these, 107 are female, 186 are male and one Candidate has chosen not to specify their gender. The success rate for female and male Candidates is 38.3 per cent and 26.3 per cent respectively (Figure 1).

At the closing time of submission of proposals, of the 294 Candidates, five were less than five# years of the award of their PhD, 269 were between five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and 21 were beyond 15 years of the award of their PhD. To be eligible to apply for Future Fellowships, the latter group of researchers had their significant career interruptions certified by their Administering Organisation.

Of the approved Future Fellowships, 85 Candidates were within five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and six 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.

#Career age is calculated at closing time of proposals, four researchers in this round were less than 5 years PhD

Figure 1. Participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2017 Candidates by gender and career age*

Participation and success rate of Future Fellowships 2017 Candidates by gender and career age*

* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

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 2017 Candidates and approved Awardees

Citizenship/residency status

Proposals considered

% of Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Foreign Nationals

48

16.3

13

27.1

Resident Australians

235

79.9

74

31.5

Returning Australians

11

3.7

4

36.4

Total

294

100.0

91

31.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: All totals and percentages are shown using rounded figures, and as such may not sum.

International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 755 instances of collaboration with researchers in 71 overseas locations on 280 proposals. Of the proposals approved for funding, 86 foreshadowed 244 instances of collaboration with researchers in 45 overseas locations.

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Future Fellowships 2017 proposals*

International collaborations by location in approved Future Fellowships 2017 proposals

*The top 10 international collaboration locations are listed in Figure 2 and the remaining are grouped in the ‘other’ category.

  • United States of America—58
  • England—32
  • Germany—18
  • Canada—14
  • France—11
  • Scotland—10
  • China (excludes SAR and Taiwan)—9
  • Netherlands—8
  • New Zealand—8
  • Sweden—8
  • Other—68