External research grants are established by the Research Grants team using the Research Information Management System (RIMS).

Sponsors may contact Research Grants or the Chief Investigator with the outcome of the grant. If you have received advice directly from a sponsor, please contact Research Grants so the acceptance and establishment process can commence.

Once a grant is awarded, a number of steps need to be completed before the funds will be available to ensure University and sponsor requirements are met.

Research Grants aims to establish all grants in under two weeks where the grant establishment forms are complete, all relevant documentation is provided and the contract is a University template or terms that are acceptable to the University (i.e. no contract negotiation is required). If documentation is incomplete or amendments/negotiations are required, the grant establishment could take longer.

For further information or assistance in establishing your research grant, please contact or phone (02) 4921 7733.

The requirements for accepting and establishing a grant will vary depending on the scheme and the sponsor.

ARC and NHMRC Grants

For ARC and NHMCR grants awarded to UON as the Administering Organisation, Research Grants will notify the Lead Chief Investigator and provide detailed instructions on the grant acceptance and establishment process.

If you are a (non-lead) Chief Investigator on a successful ARC or NHMRC grant where UON is a Participating Organisation but not the Administrating Organisation, please contact Research Grants and we will work with you and the Administering Organisation on a Multi-Institutional Agreement.

Other Grants

If Research Grants receives notification of a successful outcome from a sponsor, we will contact the Lead Chief Investigator with details of the acceptance requirements for the grant. If you receive notification of an award of funding directly from a sponsor, it is important to forward all correspondence and associated documents to Research Grants so the acceptance and establishment can commence. This may include, but is not limited, to:

  • a grant application (if not already submitted to Research Grants)
  • a letter of award/offer (may include email correspondence outlining the offer)
  • other relevant correspondence (e.g. emails with the sponsor which include general details and conditions of the funding awarded)
  • a completed Grant Establishment Form (DOC)
  • a legal agreement/contract (unsigned)
  • a multi-institutional/collaborative agreement (where funding is administered by another university)

Small Research Consultancies

A grant is considered a Small Research Consultancy if the total funding awarded is less than $25,000, there is no legal contract, no ethics or safety clearances and the project/activity meets the HERDC definition of research. Small research consultancies have a streamlined grant establishment process.

If you receive notification of an award or funding that meets the criteria for a small research consultancy, please forward copies of the following documents to Research Grants:

  • correspondence or documentation from the sponsor stating the level of funding, whether it is inclusive or exclusive of GST and any conditions of the funding (may include a purchase order);
  • a completed Small Research Consultancy GEF (DOC);
  • a brief description of how the project/activity meets the HERDC definition of research.


Some research funding will require a contract between the University and the sponsor. Research Grants will not make a grant account active until the contract is fully executed.

Contract development and review

Any proposed research contracts must be referred to Research Grants and will be reviewed by a Contracts Officer, and in some instances, the Legal Office. This is to protect the interests of the University and the researchers. Research Grants or the Contracts Officer will provide advice back to the Chief Investigator and can negotiate with the sponsor for amendments to the contract, if necessary. For example, insurance, indemnity, indirect costs, ownership of intellectual property rights and protection of the rights of researchers to publish their results are issues that sometimes require negotiation.

The Legal Office has developed a number of template contracts to engage third parties in an efficient, professional, consistent, and risk-conscious way. University staff can download the templates from the Legal Office Services Portal. Using an unchanged University template contract ensures prompt approval enabling projects to commence. The delegation of authority still applies.

The Contracts Officer can also prepare a research contract, based on the University's standard form of contract, which can be adapted to meet the needs of the particular project.

Please consult Research Grants about other research-related legal issues, including intellectual property agreements, material transfer agreements, and research student scholarship agreements.

Multi-institutional or collaborative agreements

A multi-institutional or collaborative agreement may be required if University-administered research grants are shared with other institutions. Multi-institutional/collaborative agreements are generally always required for ARC and NHMRC grants.

Contract obligations

The Lead Chief Investigator is responsible for all relevant obligations in a contract. It is important all Chief Investigators are aware of their obligations and responsibilities, including ensuring the project-specific information, such as milestones, budgets and reporting, is accurate. The Lead Chief Investigator will need to confirm in writing to Research Grants or the Contracts Officer they have reviewed and approve of the contract details prior to the University authorised delegate signing the contract.

Contract execution

The responsibility for accepting research grants and signing research contracts rests with the University, not the individual researcher. The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) has a delegation of authority to sign such documents on behalf of the University. Once a contract has been signed by the University it will be returned to the sponsor directly. Upon receipt of a fully executed contract, Research Grants will continue with the establishment of the grant.

Please see the Delegation of Authority Policy in the UON Policy Library and the Schedule of Operational Sub-Delegations (Category 6 - Research) for further information about authority to sign research contracts.


Obtain Appropriate Clearances

All research grants that fund projects which are conducted at the University or by staff and students of the University that require Human EthicsAnimal Ethics or Safety approval must have the clearances finalised before Research Grants will authorise the account to be made active and the project can commence.

It is the Lead Chief Investigator’s responsibility to ensure all clearances are obtained and appropriately linked to the relevant grant before the research can commence.

Early Release of Funds

There are limited circumstances under which grant funds can be released before the necessary clearances are obtained. This includes, for example, funds required for the commencement of a scholarship or to appoint staff necessary for the development of an ethics application.

Please note: Some sponsors, such as the NHMRC, do not allow the early release of funds unless there are exceptional circumstances and written approval is obtained. Researchers should read the funding rules prior to requesting early release of funds.

Researchers can email with a request for early release of funds. The e-mail should include:

  1. a detailed justification for the early release of funds,
  2. the purpose for which the funds are being sought, and
  3. an indication of the approximate timeframe required to secure the necessary clearances.

Approval for early release funds will always be on the condition that necessary approvals must still be obtained and no work requiring approvals can commence until the approvals are in place.


Once all grant documentation is received and processed, the contract is signed (if relevant) and ethics and safety clearances are linked to the grant (if relevant), Research Grants will make the Gnumber ‘active’ and the Chief Investigators can access the grant funds. The Research Accounting Team in Finance Services will notify the Lead Chief Investigator and coordinate the invoicing arrangements. The budget, expenditure and commitments for the grant are managed by the Chief Investigators in the Research Financial System (RFS) in TechnologyOne.

The Lead Chief Investigator must be a registered user of TechnologyOne for the grant to be made active. Access to TechnologyOne is via the ServiceUON portal.

If a funding sponsor requests an invoice before the contract is finalised please contact Research Grants immediately to arrange an early invoice.


Q. Who do I contact for contract research and consultancy support?

A. Contract research and consultancy should be established through Research Grants if a portion of the project meets the HERDC definition of research. Please follow the normal grant or small research establishment process.

Q. What are indirect costs and do I need to pay them?

A. Indirect costs are the costs to the institution for carrying out research that cannot be easily allocated to an individual research project (e.g. libraries, accommodation, insurance, finance services, legal services). All universities charge indirect costs.

The University applies an Indirect Cost Rate of 25% on all externally funded research, other than organisations that have been approved for exemption or are listed on the Australian Competitive Grants Register (ACGR).

The Preparing Research Budgets page provides further information.

Q. What is the difference between salary on-costs and indirect costs?

A. Salary on-costs are the additional costs (above the annual salary) incurred in employing someone to fill a position or undertake a role (e.g. workers compensation, payroll tax, superannuation, leave loading). Salary on-costs are a direct cost because they are directly associated with running the project. Salary on-costs are ~30% off the annual salary costs (assuming the position receives non-contributory superannuation (9.5%) and all leave is taken annually).

Comparatively, indirect costs are 25% of the total direct research cost.

The Preparing Research Budgets page provides information on salary and indirect costs.

Q. My project was funded, when can I start spending my money?

A. External research grant funds cannot be accessed until the ‘Gnumber’ is active in the Research Financial System (RFS). Research Grants will make the Gnumber active once all documentation has been received, the research contract is executed and necessary ethics and safety clearances are in place. The Lead CI will receive an email from Finance Services when the Gnumber is active.

Q. Who reviews and signs grant funding agreements?

A. The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), and approved delegates, is responsible for signing research contracts, not the individual researcher. Research contracts should be provided to Research Grants to be reviewed by the Contracts Officer prior to signing.

Please see the Delegation of Authority Policy in the Policy Library and the Schedule of Operational Sub-Delegations (Category 6 - Research) for further information about authority to sign research contracts.

Q. Is my research grant liable for GST?

A. Most grants are liable for GST as there is a commitment to deliver a service (or supply) however there are some exceptions. This can include but is not limited to ARC, NHMRC, Government Related Entities, gifts/donations, scholarships, exports and where specified in an executed contract. For budgeting purposes, GST is generally excluded.

Please see Preparing Research Budgets or contact Financial Services or for further information.

Q. What does it mean if my research grant has a strict budget?

A. The ‘strict budget’ field is a feature of the Research Financial System (RFS). A strict budget means the funding sponsor requires the grant funding to be spent in accordance with a specific budget.

If a research grant is classified as having a ‘strict budget’, RFS will not allow expenditure to exceed the individual budget categories (e.g. 001/Personnel, 007/Travel) for the life of the project. If a research grant is not classified as having a strict budget, expenditure can occur in any budget category even if the category does not have a budget assigned in RFS.

Research grants are classified as either strict or non-strict end dates when they are established. Please see the Research Financial System page for further information.

Q. What does it mean if my research grant has a strict end date?

A. The ‘strict end date’ field is a feature of Research Financial System (RFS). If a grant is classified as having a strict end date, RFS will not allow funding to be accessed after the project end date has passed. If a grant is classified as having a non-strict end date, RFS will allow the funding to be accessed for three years beyond the project end date.

The classification is based on sponsor requirements. For example, ARC and NHMRC grant end dates are strict (however there are processes to extend these grants), if a sponsor requires the return of unspent funds the end date will be strict.

Research grants are classified as either strict or non-strict end dates when they are established. Please see the Research Financial System page for further information.