Research Grants pricing and indirect costs
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Why are indirect costs (overheads) charged?
The University provides significant infrastructure for the support of research, including access to the University's computing systems, libraries, networked information retrieval facilities, physical accommodation, all risks and insurance and professional indemnity insurance, animal and human ethics clearances, safety clearances, financial management and auditing, power, heat and water, cleaning and garbage services and basic telecommunications service.
“Indirect” or “overhead” costs describe this infrastructure support by the University. The full cost of a project is a combination of “direct” project costs such as salaries, travel, maintenance and equipment etc and “indirect” costs.
As a general principle, a contribution towards the cost of research infrastructure is required for all external funding for research and should be included in the project budget.
How are indirect (overhead) costs charged?
Many funding bodies will specifically exclude indirect costs from funding support particularly where the funds for research are provided by a philanthropic foundation or charitable body and/or where the project is assessed by peer review in competition with others.
Indirect costs must be included in your grant application unless:
- the scheme guidelines specifically exclude the support of funding for infrastructure costs; or
- the funding is provided for the support of a research student.
- the funding scheme is listed on the current Australian Competitive Grants Register; or
- the funding body is a research foundation or philanthropic or charitable organisation;
In each of cases 2, 3 and 4, the funding body’s guidelines may allow for indirect (overhead) costs to be included in a budget. If so, overheads should be charged.
Australian Competitive Grants
The Federal Government provides a Research Infrastructure Block Grant (RIBG) to each university as a contribution towards infrastructure used by projects that are funded by Australian Competitive Grants (e.g. ARC and NHMRC) and accordingly infrastructure costs are not included in the budgets for these schemes. The ACG Register provides a full list of granting bodies and schemes.
Research Foundations and Charitable Organisations
Where such funding bodies do not specifically allow for overheads costs and have limited resources, the University will normally exempt their grants from overheads.
The University will exempt a grant that supports a research student from the overheads requirement, but only if the research funds are primarily for the support of the student (eg. through payment of a stipend or project costs) and the work being undertaken contributes directly to the student’s thesis.
Can indirect costs be waived?
For information regarding the waiver for indirect costs please see our Pricing, Grants, Contracts and Consultancy page.