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Grant Application FAQs

Grant Applications, Reviews and Approvals

How do I get approval to submit an external research grant application?

A: A Project Pre-Approval form must be completed and lodged with the Grants Team prior to the submission of any external research grant application at SCU.

Project Pre-Approval form

What is a Project Pre-Approval form?

A: The form summarises contributions from your school or centre – both cash and in kind (which may include salary for part of your time and any required infrastructure or school fees).

This form is the mechanism for obtaining written approval for these contributions from your Head of School or Special Research Centre Director.

Project Pre-Approval form

What other certifications may be required?

A: Different grant types may require different certifications, as stipulated by external funding providers such as the ARC, for example:

  • Written evidence from all investigators of their willingness to participate in the project
  • Evidence of career interruption, or date of PhD conferral
  • SCU organisational sign off (in addition to the Project Pre-approval form)
  • Letters of support

The grants team can advise which certifications are needed and arrange for Division of Research signatures where required.

As it can sometimes take weeks to obtain all the certifications required, it is essential that you contact the Grants Team very early in the process to ensure signatures can be obtained prior to submission of your application.

What is 'expert review'?

A: Expert review is compulsory for some grant applications (e.g. ARC schemes) and may be available for some other grant types. The expert reviewer will provide strategic feedback on your application – e.g. suitability of your approach for the particular scheme, how well you have addressed selection criteria etc.

Please note, this is not a technical review, and it is highly recommended that you also obtain peer review from colleagues in your discipline.

As you will need time to incorporate suggestions made in your application, internal deadlines for expert review will apply.

What is 'compliance review'?

A: During compliance review, the Grants Team will check that your application meets all the rules, guidelines and requirements stipulated by the funding provider. Eligibility of participants will be checked. The budget and justification for budget items (where applicable) will be checked. All certifications required will be checked, and kept on file. Issues of non-compliance and suggested amendments will be documented.

Please note that the application draft sent to the Grants Team for compliance review should be a fully polished, edited and formatted version that has been well-proofed for typographical or other errors.

Internal deadlines will apply for compliance review. Contact a member of the Grants Team for updated advice.

My application is an Expression of Interest (EOI), or Preliminary Research Proposal (PRP). What is required of me at this first stage?

It is recommended that researchers advise their Head of School or Special Research Centre Director of their intention to apply.

The Project Pre-Approval form is required for all EOIs or PRPs.

For some preliminary proposals, you may require assistance with budget planning, as this may impact later on the final proposal. Please see the FAQ section on budgeting for important budget considerations.

Budget Preparation

What do I need to include in my budget?

Your budget needs to include all cash and in-kind items that the project will require. Budget items to consider are:

  • Staff costs (don't forget to factor in salary increases, oncosts and casual loadings)
  • Student stipends
  • Equipment
  • Consumables
  • Travel
  • Other
  • Infrastructure and/or work unit fees

What is the infrastructure fee?

The 15% Infrastructure fee is in place to cover costs associated with the University's support and development of research.

All research agreements are subject to the 15% infrastructure fee except:

  • Nationally competitive grants (as per current Australian Competitive Grants Register), except where the funding body/scheme expressly provides for such a fee*. For example, some ACIAR grants allow a 13% fee for the lead organisation,and 5% for partner organisations. These allowed ACIAR fees would be split between the Division of Research and the primary School/Centre.
  • Collaborative Research Grant Scheme funding
  • Projects under $20,000 GST exclusive
  • Existing CRC projects
  • Stipend only projects
  • If a project includes budget items that are clearly identified as student support (eg. stipends and/or operating costs), the infrastructure fee will not be applied to those student budget items (but will be applied to the balance).

If you use the Budget Templates these amounts are automatically calculated for you.

If the Infrastructure fee is applicable, your work unit may also charge a fee (School/Centre fee) – please check with your finance officer whether a School/Centre fee is applicable.

* If you are aware of any funding bodies/schemes that allow for such a fee, please advise the Grants Team.

How do I calculate the infrastructure fee?

The 15% Infrastructure fee is 15% of the Base amount (ie. what the researcher needs to run the project). An example is given below:


Budget item



Base Amount - what researchers need to run the project



Infrastructure fee - 15% of Base Amount*



School fee - if applicable, calculate school fee as a % of Base Amount*



Amount requested from funding provider - total of Base Amount, infrastructure fee and school fee

If you use the Budget Templates these amounts are automatically calculated for you.

* Infrastructure and school fees were previously calculated from the amount requested from funding provider, rather than the amount researchers needed to run the project. This resulted in compounding issues when both infrastructure fee and school fees were being calculated. The calculation method has now been revised to make budgets easier to calculate.

What's the difference between an Internal Budget and a Client Budget?

The Infrastructure fee and School fee (if applicable) are internal fees and it's not necessary to show them as separate budget items (unless the rules of the funding body state that you have to).

An example is shown below of the difference between an internal budget, and how you can present the budget to your funding body:

Internal Budget:

(GST excl)
Budget item



Research Assistant (HEW 5/1 1.0 FTE for 3 months casual contract, including oncosts)



Collection sample kits (200 x $3.50 each)



Boat hire (2 days at $1,500 per day)



Base amount



Infrastructure fee



School fee



Amount requested from funding provider

Budget to present to Client/Funding Provider:

Infrastructure and school fees (if applicable) are 'built in' to each budget item. If you use the Budget Templates these amounts are automatically calculated for you.

(GST excl)
Budget item



Salaries - Research Assistant



Consumables – 200 collection sample kits



Equipment – 2 days boat hire



Amount requested from funding provider

What is in-kind?

In-kind is any non-cash contributions that a party contributes to the research project. In-kind can be contributed by SCU or by an external party, and can be:

  • staff (eg: if someone is contributing their time to the project but their time is not funded by the project) or
  • non-staff (eg: if you are making lab space available to conduct the project but are not receiving direct payment from the project to 'buy out' lab space)

What are 'oncosts', and how do I include them in my budget?

Oncosts are direct costs associated with salary, including superannuation, sick leave, payroll tax etc. and must be included your budget.

For SCU Academic and General Salaries, 32.15% oncosts apply. For SCU Casual rates, 19% oncosts apply. The applicable percentage should be added to the appropriate SCU EB Salary rate. Please see the HR website for Pay, Conditions and Benefits for the latest salary amounts.

If you use the Budget Templates these amounts are automatically calculated for you.

Please note: For some schemes, the funding provider may stipulate a specific maximum rate for funding of salary oncosts, e.g. the Australian Research Council (ARC) will not fund more than 28% oncosts. In cases such as this, the difference between the allowable oncost rate and SCU actual rate, i.e.

32.15% minus 28% = 4.15%

can be added as an SCU in-kind contribution.

Other Services You May Need

What should you do if you need help with……..

  • Grant Writing
  • Proof Reading of your application
  • Peer Review of your application
  • Assistance in uploading your application to the funding body on-line application system
  • Computer support, formatting of proposals / CVs or data entry help
  • Drafting of support letters / institutional statements
  • Mentoring
  • Non-Research Grants

Unfortunately the Grants Team are not resourced to assist with the above tasks. If you require help with the above please contact your School/Centre in the first instance.

Updated: 16 June 2015