Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia

Latest release

Contains data on expenditure and human resources devoted to research and development (R&D) carried out by higher education organisations in Australia

Reference period

Key statistics

  • Expenditure on R&D performed by Australian higher education organisations during the 2022 calendar year was $13,990 million. 
  • Compared to 2020, Higher Education Expenditure on R&D (HERD) increased by 10% in current price terms and by 5% in chain volume terms. 
  • HERD as a proportion of GDP decreased from 0.61% in 2020 to 0.55% in 2022. 

Changes to this issue

Collection of Socio-Economic Objectives (SEO) data was reinstated in 2022. SEO data was not collected in 2020. This was part of the ABS commitment to reduce the load on data providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Higher education resources devoted to R&D

Expenditure on R&D       
 Current Prices$m10,14510,87812,15812,66813,990
 Chain Volume Measures (a)$m12,31512,70113,53413,35913,990
Human resources devoted to R&D PYE78,03879,00881,71781,09081,705

a. The reference year for chain volume measures is 2022. Refer to the Chain volume measures section of the Methodology page for details.

Subsequent expenditure figures and supporting commentary relate to current price terms.

Higher education expenditure on R&D (HERD)

Type of expenditure

  • In 2022, HERD comprised of $13,190 million (94%) in Current expenditure and $800 million (6%) in Capital expenditure. In comparison, Current expenditure contributed $11,941 million (94%) and Capital expenditure $727 million (6%) to HERD in 2020.
  • Labour costs remained the largest component of Current expenditure at $6,075 million (up $334 million or 6%) in 2022, while Other current expenditure recorded the largest dollar increase, up $834 million (16%) to $5,987 million. 
  • Capital expenditure - Land, buildings and other structures declined, down $47 million (10%) in 2022, following a decrease of $243 million (34%) in 2020. Other capital expenditure recorded an increase of $120 million (47%), offsetting the fall in Land, buildings and other structures to show overall growth in Capital expenditure (up $73 million or 10%). 

Source of funds

  • All R&D expenditure by source of funds categories recorded an increase from 2020, with General university funds recording the largest increase, up $459 million (7%).
  1. Other Australian source of funds data not included.
  2. Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth schemes.
  3. Other Commonwealth Government funding.


Location of expenditure relates to the main campus or head office location of the reporting institution, apart from the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Please refer to the Methodology page for further information.

  • All states and territories recorded an increase in R&D expenditure from 2020, with Victoria recording the largest dollar increase, up $523 million (15%).

HERD and Gross State Product (GSP)

  • From 2020 to 2022, HERD as a proportion of GSP decreased across all locations.
HERD, by location of expenditure - proportion of GSP(a)
 NSW (%)Vic. (%)Qld (%)SA (%)WA (%)Tas. (%)NT (%)ACT (%)

a. Refer to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross State Product (GSP) section of the Methodology page for details.

Type of Activity

Type of Activity (ToA) classification enables R&D activity to be categorised according to the type of research effort. Refer to Glossary section of the Methodology page for more detail on the four Types of Activity classifications: Pure basic research, Strategic basic research, Applied research and Experimental development.

  • In comparison to 2020, Pure basic research was the only type of activity to record a decrease, down $10 million (0.4%). R&D expenditure classified as Applied research increased by $1,113 million (17%), followed by Strategic basic research up $143 million (6%) and Experimental development, up $77 million (6%). 

Fields of Research

Fields of Research (FoR) classifies R&D expenditure based on the area of knowledge and methodology used in the R&D.

  • Biomedical and clinical sciences recorded the largest increase in dollar terms in 2022, up $429 million (15%) followed by Health sciences up $286 million (23%).

Socio-Economic Objectives

Socio-Economic Objectives (SEO) classifies R&D expenditure according to the areas that may benefit from the R&D.

  1. SEO data was not collected in 2020.

Higher education human resources devoted to R&D

  • Australian higher education institutions devoted a total of 81,705 person years of effort (PYE) to R&D, an increase of 615 PYE (1%) from 2020. 
  • Supporting staff recorded the largest movement from 2020, up 555 PYE (5%). 

Data downloads

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8111.0.

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