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 2018 opened on 3 October 2017 and closed on 22 November 2017. Proposals were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines outcomes from the selection process for that round.

Funding recommendations have been prepared for submission to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The outcomes 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 advice from the ARC’s Medical Research Advisory Group
  • made recommendations to the CEO in respect of ineligible proposals.

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 Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn proposals.

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria and corresponding weightings for Future Fellowships 2018 proposals are:

  • Future Fellowship Candidate (40%)
  • Proposed Project Quality and Innovation (35%)
  • Feasibility and Strategic Alignment (10%)
  • Benefit and Collaboration (15%)

The ARC assessment process for Future Fellowships 2018 used 28 College of Experts members across three discipline panels and was managed in RMS. A total of 1447 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Future Fellowships 2018.

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 $152,630 or $184,766 or $216,896, (2017$) 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 511 Future Fellowships proposals for funding commencing in 2018, of which two proposals were withdrawn. Of the unsuccessful proposals, 14 were found to not meet eligibility requirements.

The overall success rate for Future Fellowships for funding commencing in 2018 is 19.6 per cent.

Table 1.  Proposal numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships proposals 2018

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

175

37

21.1

$137,871,858

$29,406,093

$27,005,359

91.8

Level 2

178

36

20.2

$162,860,978

$33,063,964

$31,149,256

94.2

Level 3

156

27

17.3

$162,300,375

$28,305,402

$26,568,762

93.9

Total

509

100

19.6

$463,033,211

$90,775,459

$84,723,377

93.3

Outcomes by discipline panels

Table 2. Comparison of proposal numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships 2018 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

134

31

23.1

 $119,672,212

$27,866,819

$25,510,720

91.5

HSE

138

19

13.8

 $131,423,761

$18,609,699

$18,090,093

97.2

PME

237

50

21.1

 $211,937,238

$44,298,941

$41,122,564

92.8

Total

509

100

19.6

 $463,033,211

$90,775,459

$84,723,377

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 2018 proposals by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Proposals considered

Proposals

approved

Success 
rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Advanced manufacturing

72

17

23.6

$13,500,125

Cybersecurity

13

3

23.1

$2,696,250

Energy

36

7

19.4

$6,005,199

Environmental change

71

14

19.7

$11,258,117

Food

27

5

18.5

$4,101,719

Health

64

5

7.8

$4,403,521

Resources

15

1

6.7

$998,125

Soil and water

13

1

7.7

$1,000,125

Transport

8

3

37.5

$2,694,439

Unspecified

190

44

23.2

$38,065,757

Total

509

100

19.6

$84,723,377

Total within Science and Research Priorities

319

56

17.6

$46,657,620

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

62.7

56

 

55.1

Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 4. Numbers of proposals and success rates for approved Future Fellowships 2018 proposals by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Australian Capital Territory

37

9

24.3

$7,374,180

The Australian National University

37

9

24.3

$7,374,180

New South Wales

151

25

16.6 

$21,573,266

Australian Catholic University

1

1

100

$974,636

Macquarie University

18

2

11.1

$2,057,754

Southern Cross University

2

0

0

$0

The University of New England

1

0

0

$0

The University of New South Wales

46

9

19.6

$7,266,137

The University of Newcastle

13

2

15.4

$1,928,941

The University of Sydney

32

6

18.8 

$5,343,625

University of Technology Sydney

15

1

6.7

$733,125

University of Wollongong

19

4

21.1

$3,269,048

Western Sydney University

4

0

0

$0

Northern Territory

2

0

0

$0

Charles Darwin University

2

0

0

$0

Queensland

83

16

19.3

$13,929,323

Bond University

1

0

0

$0

Central Queensland University

1

0

0

$0

Griffith University

12

4

33.3

$3,663,635

James Cook University

3

0

0

$0

Queensland University of Technology

16

4

25.0

$3,587,916

The University of Queensland

48

7

14.6

$5,681,581

University of the Sunshine Coast

2

1

50.0

$996,191

South Australia

36

8

22.2

$6,534,362

Flinders University

5

2

40.0

$1,704,250

The University of Adelaide

23

6

26.1

$4,830,112

University of South Australia

8

0

0

$0

Tasmania

8

0

0

$0

University of Tasmania

8

0

0

$0

Victoria

163

32

19.6

$27,129,627

Deakin University

11

2

18.2

$1,775,305

La Trobe University

15

2

13.3

$1,756,250

Monash University

51

13

25.5

$11,178,338

RMIT University

11

3

27.3

$2,627,410

Swinburne University of Technology

11

2

18.2

$1,861,250

The University of Melbourne

64

10

15.6

$7,931,074

Western Australia

29

10

34.5

$8,182,619

Curtin University

5

2

40.0

$1,566,449

The University of Western Australia

24

8

33.3

$6,616,170

Total

509

100

19.6

$84,723,377

Career age and gender

A total of 509 Future Fellowships Candidates were named on all proposals considered in this round. Of these, 157 were female, 347 were male and five Candidates have chosen not to specify their gender. The success rate for female and male Candidates is 19.7 per cent and 19.6 per cent respectively (Figure 1).

At the closing time of submission of proposals, of the 509 Candidates, five were less than five# years of the award of their PhD, 455 were between five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and 49 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, 86 Candidates were within five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and 14 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 (1.0 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 2018 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 2018 Candidates and approved Awardees

Citizenship/residency status

Proposals considered

% of Proposals considered

Proposals approved

Success rate (%)

Foreign Nationals

79

15.5

11

13.9

Resident Australians

408

80.2

86

21.1

Returning Australians

22

4.3

3

13.6

Total

509

100

100

19.6

 

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

International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 1267 instances of collaboration with researchers in 76 overseas locations on 468 proposals. Of the proposals approved for funding, 92 foreshadowed 270 instances of collaboration with researchers in 42 overseas locations.

Figure 2.  International collaborations by location in approved Future Fellowships 2018 

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

  • United States of America—56
  • England—38
  • Germany—28
  • Japan—15
  • Canada—13
  • France—13
  • China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) —9
  • Denmark—8
  • Italy—7
  • Switzerland—7
  • Other—76