The statistics presented in this release have been compiled from data collected in the Survey of Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations. The Survey of R&D, Higher Education is a biennial collection based on a calendar year reference period.
Definition of R&D
R&D, as collected by the ABS, is defined in accordance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) standard as "creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge - including knowledge of humankind, culture and society - and to devise new applications of available knowledge".
For a more comprehensive interpretation of the definition of R&D, see the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2020 or refer to the OECD publication The Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys of Research and Experimental Development - Frascati Manual 2015.
Respondents report and self-classify R&D survey information based on their interpretation of OECD and ABS definitions and classifications. The ABS makes every effort to ensure correct and consistent interpretation and reporting of these data by applying consistent processing methodologies. See also the Non-Sampling Error and Revisions sections of the Technical Note for more information.
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)
Type of Activity and Fields of Research statistics presented in this release have been collected and compiled based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2020.
This release is the first time Fields of Research information was compiled using the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2020. Previous releases of this issue used the Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008.
In 2020, Socio-Economic Objectives (SEO) information was not collected. This was part of the ABS commitment to reduce the load on data providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scope and coverage
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 ABS R&D survey is based on the OECD definition but excludes colleges of Technical and Further Education. A total of 42 Australian higher education institutions were in scope and reported for this collection.
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.
Location of expenditure
Location of expenditure relates to the main campus or head office location of the reporting institution, except for the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), which is part of the University of New South Wales but is shown against the Australian Capital Territory.
Derived expenditure estimates
Total cost of R&D undertaken is equivalent to direct expenditure plus indirect (overhead) expenditure.
Institutions were required to indicate whether overheads had been included in reported data. In cases where data did not include overheads, an estimate was calculated by either:
the institution identifying the value of R&D related overhead costs to be apportioned across relevant projects/schools; or
the ABS, using a methodology agreed to by institutions and Universities Australia.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross State Product (GSP)
The most recent GDP and GSP values available were used to calculate the R&D expenditure/GDP and R&D expenditure/GSP ratios presented in this issue. These values are referenced in the table below and have been revised from those used to calculate ratios in previous issues.
|2012-13 ($m)||2014-15 ($m)||2016-17 ($m)||2018-19 ($m)||2020-21 ($m)|
|Gross Domestic Product||1,536,454||1,623,207||1,759,314||1,946,228||2,068,287|
|NSW ($m)||Vic. ($m)||Qld ($m)||SA ($m)||WA ($m)||Tas. ($m)||NT ($m)||ACT ($m)|
GDP is estimated by the ABS according to the international standards System of National Accounts, 2008 (2008 SNA) and is not directly comparable to GDP for countries where these standards have not been applied.
While statistics presented in this issue relate to the 2020 calendar year, financial year GDP and GSP data are used to ensure consistency with ratios published in other ABS R&D releases which use a financial year as the reporting period.
Chain volume measures
The chain volume measures appearing in this release are annually reweighted chain Laspeyres indexes referenced to the current price values in a chosen reference year (currently 2020). They can be thought of as current price values re-expressed in (i.e. based on) the prices of the previous year and linked together to form continuous time series. They are formed in a multi-stage process of which the major steps are described in Section 15 of the Information Paper: Australian National Accounts, Introduction of Chain Volume Measures and Price Indexes.
With the implementation of the 2008 SNA, deflators used to calculate the chain volume measure of expenditure on R&D were revised to better capture changes in the unit value of labour used in the production of R&D services, and to increase and refine the number of products included in the deflators. The revised deflators have been used for Higher Education R&D statistics since the 2008 survey cycle.
Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the component items and totals.
Other related publications
Relevant OECD publications include:
The ABS acknowledges the ongoing contribution made by the higher education institutions selected for the Survey of R&D, Higher Education.
ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
ABS data available on request