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Concerns raised as rumours of ARC grant delays circulate

Image: Neerav Bhatt [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Delays of up to six months rumoured for several major Australian Research Council rounds

Researchers have expressed concern at rumoured delays to several major Australian Research Council grant rounds.

According to the popular X account ARC Tracker, an unofficial source that checks ARC grant outcomes and announcements, several university research offices have been told that there will be significant delays.

“Last week, the ARC informed research offices that the next round of Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards, Future Fellowships and Laureate Fellowships will be delayed by up to six months,” the account tweeted on 20 May. It later clarified that this could mean that applications originally expected by the end of 2024 would be due by May 2025 instead.

An ARC spokesperson did not directly respond to questions about the possible delays. In a written response, they told Research Professional News that “the ARC understands the importance of the scheme calendar for future planning of workflows for applicants and research administrators and has been consulting with the research sector about developing a new best practice scheme calendar for 2024-25”.

“The new scheme calendar, which has been developed in line with the amended ARC Act, will be published in the coming weeks.”

In 2022, following sector concern, the council committed to publishing clear schedules for the processing of grants.

Eligibility concerns

At least one university research office has published an internal calendar showing the Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards and Future Fellowships with an application date of “early to mid 2025”, labelled “timeline changes”. The Laureate Fellowships are shown as opening in September 2024, “to be confirmed”.

The manager of the ARC Tracker account told Research Professional News that there were several concerns around the issue. There is the delay itself but also the way it is being communicated, with research offices hearing some details while researchers themselves are left out of communications.

“The most important thing is knowing whether the ARC will adjust the eligibility windows for these schemes so that the delay doesn’t mean people who are coming to the end of their eligibility for either Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards or Future Fellowship applications aren’t going to become ineligible while they wait the extra six months [or so] for these schemes to open,” they said.

The impact of delays on eligibility was a theme of responses on X, along with the negative impact of continuing uncertainty on researchers considering returning to Australia.

The ARC told Research Professional News that it “will work to ensure that any changes in scheme timing do not disadvantage applicants”.