I am pleased to present the State of Australian University Research 2018–19: ERA National Report. ERA is a national evaluation that provides Australia with a comprehensive picture of the quality of research conducted in our universities. This report provides the outcomes of the fourth round of Excellence in Research for Australia 2018 (ERA 2018). It provides high quality, internationally benchmarked data that shows that much of our research effort competes with the best in the world. 

The ERA outcomes showcase the rich diversity of Australian universities, with research strengths occurring in universities across the nation and across a broad range of disciplines. The ERA 2018 outcomes show that overall the quality of the research produced by universities continues to be strong, with many areas performing well above world standard.

ERA continues to demonstrate that the investment from business, industry and Australian taxpayers in Australian research is supporting and delivering high-quality research. A strong university research sector is important for all Australians—research provides a critical foundation for innovation and new inventions from the quantum bit, to the Cochlear implant, as well as solutions to complex issues including cyber security, food security, and maintaining our health and well-being. A strong research sector is integral to expanding our economy, keeping our workforce strong and addressing social challenges.

This is why the Government is making a significant investment of $9.6 billion this financial year for research and development, supporting research across all fields, including vital areas such as health, education and agriculture, and supporting Australia to be competitive globally in the innovation economy. Since the last ERA report was published in 2015, the Australian Research Council (ARC) has invested in more than 4400 projects, providing $2.3 billion to support a range of fundamental and applied research projects, as well as growing Australia’s research capacity and infrastructure. 

The ERA 2018 report shows universities received 12,477 competitive grants during the ERA 2018 reference period (2014–2016), representing an investment of $5.1 billion. The Australian Government supported much of this investment through the ARC, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and other funding bodies.

The ERA 2018 National Report also provides detailed information about the state of the Australian university research sector. We now have a wealth of longitudinal data on our research system—14 years of unique data—an invaluable resource for universities, industry and other users of research, and policymakers. In a first, the ARC will publish separately a range of university submission data, aligning with the Government’s commitment to making data publicly accessible. This adds to the national resource that is open data. 

I commend the Australian Research Council and all of the universities that contributed to ERA 2018 for their ongoing commitment to Australian research.

Yours sincerely