Research and Experimental Development - Higher Education Sector (Survey of)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


The Survey of R&D, Higher Education Organisations, collects estimates of R&D expenditure and human resources devoted to R&D by higher education institutions in Australia. The data are classified by type of expenditure, source of funds, location of expenditure, type of activity, fields of research, socio-economic objectives and type of resource.

The Survey of R&D, Higher Education is a biennial collection based on a calendar year reference period.


The Survey of R&D, Higher Education Organisations is part of a suite of ABS Research and Experimental Development (R&D) surveys (covering the Private Non-Profit, Government, Higher Education and Business sectors) which collectively produce statistics to enable the nature and distribution of R&D activity in Australia to be monitored and analysed. The information is used by government and advisers to government, international organisations such as the OECD, businesses, economists and others. The information is used for purposes such as policy formulation, allocation of funds and the determination of priorities for research and development.


The OECD definition of the higher education sector encompasses universities and other institutions of post-secondary education regardless of their source of finance or legal status. The scope of the Higher Education R&D survey is based on the OECD definition, but excludes colleges of Technical and Further Education.

Intramural expenditure, which is defined as expenditure for R&D performed by in scope institutions during the reference period irrespective of the source of funds, is included in the survey. Expenditure made outside the institution but in support of intramural R&D is included. For further information, refer to the OECD Frascati Manual 2015. Intramural expenditure includes research performed by institutions:

    as a participant in unincorporated Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs); and

    on behalf of other legal entities where the institution maintains full management and control of the project.

R&D performed on an institution's campus, where the R&D is controlled by other legal entities, is excluded from the survey. The R&D performed by these entities will be in scope of the relevant R&D sector (business, government or private non-profit).

R&D performed overseas by Australian higher education institutions is included. Due to the very small amount of overseas expenditure, it is not separately identified.


    Conceptual framework
    The suite of ABS R&D surveys are conducted in accordance with international guidelines outlined in the OECD Guidelines for Collecting and Reporting Data on Research and Experimental Development - Frascati Manual 2015. This manual forms the conceptual framework for the surveys for all expenditure and human resources data items.

    The surveys also use the classification developed by the ABS and Statistics New Zealand for use in the measurement and analysis of R&D activity undertaken in the two countries. This classification is the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008 (cat. no. 1297.0), which itself follows the guidelines prescribed in the Frascati Manual.

    Main outputs
    Higher education expenditure on R&D: Total R&D expenditure is output both in current prices and chain volume measures. Value of expenditure on R&D (current prices) is output by location, by type of expenditure, source of funds, type of activity, fields of research and socio-economic objective.

    Higher education human resources devoted to R&D: Human resources devoted to R&D (expressed in person years of effort) is output by type of resource.

    Outputs are released in Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8111.0).

    Location of expenditure: States and Territories of Australia

    Type of activity (TOA), Fields of Research (FOR) and Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008 (ABS cat. no. 1297.0)

    Other concepts (summary)

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    Data are collected by location of expenditure, which is the main campus or head office location of the reporting institution. Location of expenditure includes states and territories.

    2 Yearly

    Frequency comments


  • 1978 to 1984 - Frequency unknown; Complete enumeration of likely R&D performers
  • 1984 to 2012 - Biennial complete enumeration of likely R&D performers; Additional surveys conducted in 1987 and 1995
  • 2014 - Biennial complete enumeration of likely R&D performers


    Data availability comments
    Statistics compiled from the data collected are released approximately 17 months after the reference period.

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