Next steps in ARC reform announced

Today I announced the next steps in reforming and improving the work of the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Australian researchers are some of the world’s best. The work the ARC does to support them is critical.

In March the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment unanimously recommended a review of the ARC Act, the first in more than 20 years.

Today I announced that this review will be led by Vice Chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology Professor Margaret Sheil AO and will report by the end of March 2023.

Professor Sheil will be joined by:

  • Professor Mark Hutchinson, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, and
  • Professor Susan Dodds, Senior Deputy-Vice Chancellor and Vice-President (Research & Industry Engagement) and Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University.

This group brings a wealth of experience in government and academia, in STEM and the humanities, in running the ARC and using the funding it provides to develop new research.

The Terms of Reference are broad. I am asking them to look at the role and purpose of the ARC within our research system so it can meet current and future needs and maintain the trust of the research sector.

The review will complement a review of internal processes by the ARC that is already underway.

I have also issued a new Letter of Expectations to the ARC. The Letter makes it clear that future grant rounds are delivered on time to a pre-determined timeframe. 

I have also made clear that the National Interest Test should continue but should be clearer, simpler, and easily understood.

I have asked the ARC to work with universities and researchers to develop guidance for applicants that is clear and simple and advise me on reforms to improve the process.