The New research block grant data requirements consultation paper proposes eight sets of changes to update the reporting requirements. The changes follow on the redesign of the programs into the Research Support Program and Research Training Program.
Overall, the changes proposed are consistent with the intent of the two new programs and the need for data to focus on demonstrating the outcomes of the programs and adherence to program requirements, while avoiding unneeded complication.
In seeking to have a better grasp of research student enrolments the data collection will need to balance gathering a wider range of data with acceptance that some data items cannot be as precise as others such that they should not be collected or used consistent with their nature.
The IRU responds below to each of the proposed areas for change.
1. To abolish the register of eligible grant schemes for Category 1 with universities including all grants that meet the criteria.
It is time to let the register of eligible grant schemes for Category 1 go.
Bringing Category 1 into alignment with Category 2, 3 and 4 via the income self-assessed model is a desirable and efficacious change. The second option of a sector maintained model, requires universities to list the schemes they think qualify, leaving it unclear what happens if there is disagreement.
To avoid any prospect that universities choose whether to claim in Category 2 or 3 rather than Category 1, the rules may need to state that all grants eligible for Category 1 should be included.
2. Better data on HDR completion times.
The proposition that it would be more useful to know the period of active enrolment and load rather than just crude time from initial enrolment to completion or withdrawal is sound.
The proposal requires some amendment to HEIMS, which will incur a cost.
Of the four proposed data item changes the first three are supported: thesis submission date, completion date, and an EFTSL estimate.
The fourth change as proposed is not supported. It confuses research students using their standard leave each year with suspensions of enrolment. The former should not be considered a period of non-study; the latter should. Hence, the reporting should focus at periods of enrolment and the proportion of one EFSTL involved.
Read full submission attached.