4 December 2015

Research excellence for an innovative future: ERA 2015 results released

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has today released Volume 1 of its inaugural State of Australian University Research 2015–16 report.

The report presents the outcomes of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 evaluations and comprehensively details the quality of Australian university research benchmarked against world standards.

“World-class research is foundational to an innovative future and Australians can be confident, through ERA, that their investment in university research is leading to high-quality research necessary to address Australia’s economic, social and environmental challenges,” said ARC Chief Executive Officer, Professor Aidan Byrne.

“The results released today confirm the outstanding performance of Australia’s universities in many research areas.

“ERA is a comprehensive assessment of university research and throughout 2015 the ARC and university sector worked together to collate and evaluate the sector’s research activity.

“There were 2460 units of evaluation assessed in ERA 2015, with over 430 000 unique research outputs, and 67 000 researchers submitted by the 41 participating universities.

“What the results demonstrate is that overall research quality is improving, and this reflects the role that ERA plays in focussing universities on research quality.

“We also see an extraordinary breadth of outstanding research performance in Australia.

“ERA also helps identify areas of particular research strength and Australia is performing very well in the fields of: pure and applied mathematics; astronomical and space sciences; macromolecular and material chemistry; soil sciences; plant biology; engineering; medical and health sciences; law; and cultural, literary and historical studies, just to name a few.

“Identifying our national research strengths allows businesses and start-ups looking to partner with universities to be guided on where the areas of strength in our universities are, and who they can partner with to innovate and create new products.

“It also allows us to determine emerging strengths and areas where we can improve,” Professor Byrne said.

The ERA 2015 data also supports the view that universities can focus more on improving the commercial returns from their research.

“There has been an encouraging increase in patents of around 20% but industry and other research income has remained steady.

“This indicates that universities will benefit from an increased focus and additional policy incentives to improve the commercial returns from their research, ultimately to the benefit of the nation.” 

With three rounds of ERA now complete, the ARC has a unique dataset covering all Australian university research outputs, staffing and activity from 2003 to 2013, and research income and research application data from 2006 to 2013.

This dataset will be critical for informing Government research policy, university strategic planning and research collaboration and investments by industry.

“Making use of the exceptional longitudinal data now available from all three ERA rounds is a priority for the ARC over the coming year,” said Professor Byrne.

“I look forward to releasing, in the coming months, additional volumes that give further insights into the state of Australian university research.

“By taking advantage of ERA’s rich and detailed information, universities, industry, other research users and all levels of government can find new and innovative ways to realise the full benefits of Australia’s outstanding research,” Professor Byrne said.

Additional information for media:                                                   

  • To view a full copy of the State of Australian University Research 2015–16 report please visit the ARC website.
  • Please find attached to this media release ERA Quick Facts summarising some of the key points from the ERA 2015 results. The Quick Facts are also available from the ARC website.
  • To arrange interviews with Professor Aidan Byrne on the release of the ERA 2015 results please contact the Director of Stakeholder Relations on 0412 623 056. If you are wanting written responses to questions please send your questions to communications@arc.gov.au.

Media contact:
ARC Stakeholder Relations
0412 623 056 or communications@arc.gov.au