Overview

The Future Fellowships scheme provides support for excellent mid-career researchers to undertake high quality research in areas of national and international benefit by enabling outstanding Australian and international mid-career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.

The objectives of Future Fellowships scheme are to:

  • support outstanding mid-career researchers to be recruited and retained, by universities in continuing academic positions
  • build collaboration across industry and/or research organisations and/or disciplines
  • support research in Australian Government’s Science and Research 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

Applications for funding commencing in 2019 opened on 15 October 2018 and closed on  21 December 2018. Applications were submitted through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Management System (RMS). This report outlines the 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 applications
  • assessed applications and reviewed assessments made by independent assessors
  • reviewed candidates’ comments on assessors’ reports
  • ranked each application relative to the others on the basis of the application, 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 applications.

The ARC assessment process for Future Fellowships 2019 used 54 College of Experts members across four discipline panels and was managed in RMS. A total of 2038 independent assessors’ reports were submitted to the ARC for Future Fellowships 2019.

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 Unless otherwise specified, figures presented in this report exclude withdrawn applications.

Assessment Criteria

Assessment criteria and corresponding weightings for Future Fellowships 2019 applications are: 

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

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 $154,920 or $187,537 or $220,150, (2018$) 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 591 Future Fellowships applications for funding commencing in 2019, of which two applications were withdrawn. Of the unsuccessful applications, 12 were found to not meet eligibility requirements. 

The overall success rate for Future Fellowships for funding commencing in 2019 is 17.0 per cent.

Table 1. Application numbers, success rates, requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships applications 2019

Salary Level

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate

Requested funds over project life (all applications)

Requested funds over project life (approved applications)

Approved funds over project life (approved applications)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

Level 1

167

28

16.8

$131,830,967

$22,522,916

$20,922,963

92.9

Level 2

223

38

17.0

$206,353,368

$35,521,926

$33,303,226

93.8

Level 3

199

34

17.1

$210,599,243

$36,228,067

$33,617,255

92.8

Total

589

100

17.0

$548,783,578

$94,272,909

$87,843,444

93.2

Outcomes by discipline panels

Table 2. Comparison of application numbers, success rates and requested and allocated funds for approved Future Fellowships 2019 applications by discipline panel

Panel †

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Requested funds over project life for all applications considered

Requested funds over project life for approved applications

Approved funds over project
 life (approved applications)

Approved funds as % of requested funds

BSB

137

23

16.8

$123,814,977

$20,853,737

$19,428,849

93.2

EIC

128

23

18.0

$121,278,156

$22,022,724

$20,602,403

93.6

HSE

192

31

16.1

$186,140,667

$30,477,174

$28,412,073

93.2

MPCE

132

23

17.4

$117,549,778

$20,919,274

$19,400,119

92.7

Total

589

100

17.0

$548,783,578

$94,272,909

$87,843,444

93.2

† BSB - Biological Sciences and Biotechnology; EIC – Engineering, Information and Computing Sciences; HSE – Humanities and Creative Arts, Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences; MPCE – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Science and Research Priorities

Of the 589 Future Fellowship applications submitted, at least 367 (62.3%) of the applications fall within one of the Science and Research Priorities (Table 3). 

Table 3. Approved funding and success rate for Future Fellowships 2019 applications by Science and Research Priorities

Science and Research Priorities

Applications considered

Applications

approved

Success
rate (%)

Approved funds (over project life)

Advanced manufacturing

79

14

17.7

$12,077,605

Cybersecurity

19

6

31.6

$5,460,060

Energy

37

6

16.2

$5,198,014

Environmental change

94

16

17.0

$13,753,159

Food

23

2

8.7

$1,493,290

Health

78

11

14.1

$10,053,293

Resources

13

3

23.1

$2,645,870

Soil and water

18

3

16.7

$2,594,716

Transport

6

0

0.0

$0

Unspecified

222

39

17.6

$34,567,437

Total

589

100

17.0

$87,843,444

Total within Science and Research Priorities

367

61

16.6

$53,276,007

Percentage within Science and Research Priorities (%)

62.3

61

 

60.6

Outcomes by Administering Organisation

Table 4. Numbers of applications and success rates for approved Future Fellowships 2019 applications by Administering Organisation

Administering Organisation

Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Approved funds over project life ($)

Australian Capital Territory

39

2

5.1

$1,769,900

The Australian National University

36

2

5.6

$1,769,900

University of Canberra

3

0

0

$0

New South Wales

186

28

15.1

$25,098,831

Australian Catholic University

1

0

0

$0

Charles Sturt University

1

0

0

$0

Macquarie University

27

6

22.2

$5,410,268

Southern Cross University

4

0

0

$0

The University of New South Wales

51

13

25.5

$11,547,805

The University of Newcastle

19

0

0

$0

The University of Sydney

37

2

5.4

$1,733,016

University of Technology Sydney

14

2

14.3

$1,884,000

University of Wollongong

26

2

7.7

$1,723,162

Western Sydney University

6

3

50.0

$2,800,580

Northern Territory

2

0

0

$0

Charles Darwin University

2

0

0

$0

Queensland

84

15

17.9

$12,582,243

Griffith University

15

1

6.7

$913,150

James Cook University

3

1

33.3

$710,470

Queensland University of Technology

12

4

33.3

$3,477,930

The University of Queensland

47

8

17

$6,592,693

University of Southern Queensland

2

1

50.0

$888,000

University of the Sunshine Coast

5

0

0

$0

South Australia

37

11

29.7

$9,032,331

Flinders University

2

0

0

$0

The University of Adelaide

23

7

30.4

$5,763,146

University of South Australia

12

4

33.3

$3,269,185

Tasmania

13

3

23.1

$2,579,911

University of Tasmania

13

3

23.1

$2,579,911

Victoria

191

33

17.3

$29,560,208

Deakin University

10

1

10.0

$931,148

La Trobe University

14

1

7.1

$843,270

Monash University

61

13

21.3

$11,369,267

RMIT University

18

2

11.1

$1,821,810

Swinburne University of Technology

12

1

8.3

$784,832

The University of Melbourne

76

15

19.7

$13,809,881

Western Australia

37

8

21.6

$7,220,020

Curtin University

16

4

25.0

$3,298,218

Murdoch University

1

0

0

$0

The University of Western Australia

20

4

20.0

$3,921,802

Total

589

100

17.0

$87,843,444

Career age and gender

A total of 589 Future Fellowship candidates were named on all applications considered in this round. Of these, 200 were female, 387 were male and two candidates have chosen not to specify their gender. The success rate for female and male candidates is 20.5 per cent and 15.2 per cent respectively (Figure 1).

At the closing time of submission of applications, of the 589 candidates, 530 were between five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and 59 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, 92 candidates were within five to 15 years of the award of their PhD and eight 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 2019 candidates by gender and career age*


* Career age is calculated as years since PhD.

Attracting and retaining outstanding researchers

Applications 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 2019 candidates and approved Awardees

Citizenship/residency status

Applications considered

% of Applications considered

Applications approved

Success rate (%)

Foreign Nationals

71

12.1

8

11.3

Resident Australians

493

83.7

90

18.3

Returning Australians

25

4.2

2

8.0

Total

589

100

100

17.0

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

International Collaboration

Applicants foreshadowed 1530 instances of collaboration with researchers in 103 overseas locations on 553 applications. Of the applications approved for funding, 98 foreshadowed 286 instances of collaboration with researchers in 49 overseas locations.

Figure 2. International collaborations by location in approved Future Fellowships 2019 applications*

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