Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre

The ARC will provide $16 million over 4 years to establish a new research centre to investigate the complex issues of the human learning process.



The Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre provides funding to undertake cross-disciplinary research programs in the human learning process. The centre will provide synergies between researchers and community institutions and educational providers and will cover a comprehensive range of geographic, demographic and socio-economic groups including Indigenous communities.


Science of Learning Research Centre

Through this cross-disciplinary and inter-professional approach, the primary objective of the centre is to develop a scientific evidence base that can be used to inform teaching practices.

The centre will be led by experienced researchers in higher education institutions with strong credentials in coordinating team-based cross‑disciplinary projects. The centre will develop and explore innovative opportunities for research and translation of the learning process, bringing cultural, social and environmental benefits to all Australians. Collaboration with live educational settings, families and educational groups will be integral to the centre’s program to test the transfer of new insights in the learning process into practice.

The centre will provide scale and focus for research in learning processes with a strong collaborative governance framework. This structure will support and encourage participants to commit to broader strategic objectives producing outcomes not independently obtainable.



The specific objective for the Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre is the delivery of a program of activities that develop a strong evidence base for learning processes to inform teaching practices. The centre will:

  • undertake highly innovative and internationally competitive research with a strategic focus on learning processes;
  • build critical mass through significant cross-disciplinary collaboration, which may range from neuroscience and cognitive development to pedagogy and education technology, including development of national and international partnerships and linkages with leading researchers, institutions, educational professionals and educational groups;
  • build Australia’s research capacity by attracting researchers of a high international standing, as well as the most promising research students;
  • strengthen capability by providing high-quality postgraduate and postdoctoral training environments for the next generation of researchers;
  • engage with stakeholders and live educational settings to identify and explore opportunities for translation and development of research in learning processes that will deliver benefits to Australia;
  • address issues relating to Indigenous learners, learners in regional and remote locations, and learners from underprivileged backgrounds;
  • address the role and integration of digital technology as a learning tool; and
  • facilitate the transfer of knowledge through public education of the outcomes of learning processes research and provide support for policy development.



Total funds of up to $4 million per year may be awarded over four years for the Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre.

Budget items that directly support a research Program may be funded, including:

  • Maintenance, infrastructure and equipment required for the Program. Funding will not be provided for infrastructure or equipment that is deemed to be for general use.
  • Specialised computer equipment and software essential to the Program.
  • Expert services of a third party, if the services are deemed to be directly related to and necessary for the proposed Program.
  • Personnel (salaries and on-costs) including research associates, Chief Operations Officer, technicians and laboratory attendants but excluding the Centre Director, Chief Investigators and Partner Investigators. Salary support must be requested at an appropriate salary level, including 28 per cent on-costs, for the Administering Organisation.
  • PhD stipends, at a minimum of $23,728 (2012 $).
  • Teaching relief for Chief Investigators (CIs) on the Program, up to a total value of $40,000 per year per CI for the Program.
  • Travel and associated costs for field and observational work, workshops and other forms of research-based engagement with teaching professionals and educational groups.
  • Short-term project support for Partner Investigators (PIs).
  • Other Travel costs up to $100,000 per year for the life of the Program.

The Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre does not support the production of:

  • descriptive data compilations, catalogues or bibliographies; or
  • compilation of data, computer programs, research aids and tools.

The Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre scheme does not support Medical and Dental Research, defined as research and/or training primarily and substantially aimed at understanding or treating a human disease or human health condition. Where a proposal satisfies all other eligibility requirements set out in the Funding Rules, the ARC may support a Program where the primary aim is an educational outcome in addition to Research and Development and the Program does not include clinical trials.


Expert Assistance

Applications for the ARC Research Centre will be very competitive with almost all the eligible organisations (43) detailed below expected to submit a bid. We have significant Co-Operative Research Centre (CRC) and Education Investment Fund (EIF) experience and can provide key resources to grant application formation. Contact us on 03 9005 6789 or email  for assistance in preparing a Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre application.

The deadline is very tight with applications due 28 September 2012.

  • Special Research Initiative for a Science of Learning Research Centre Application Form

Key selection criteria for the application is detailed below

Investigator(s) – 30%

  • ­      research opportunity and performance evidence (ROPE);
  • ­      time and capacity to undertake the proposed research and mentorship;
  • ­      record of successful supervision and training of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.

Program Quality and Innovation – 30%

  •       Does the method and approach proposed address the objectives of the program?
  •       Is the conceptual/theoretical framework, genuinely broad, cross‑disciplinary, innovative and original?
  • ­      Will the aims, concepts, methods and results advance knowledge?
  • ­      Does the Program have a wide level of collaboration, including the development of national and international partnerships and linkages?
  • ­      Will the proposed research encourage and develop strategic research alliances between the higher education organisation(s), Collaborating/Partner organisation(s) and stakeholder(s)?


Feasibility and Benefit- 20%

  • ­      Are the design of the Program and the expertise of the participants sufficient to ensure the Program can be completed with the proposed budget and timeframe?
  • ­      Will the completed Program produce innovative economic, environmental, social and/or cultural benefits to the Australian community?
  • ­      Is the nature and extent of the Program’s strategic approach to communication and outreach appropriate for the objectives?


Governance -10%

  • ­      Does the Program have an effective governance arrangement with the capacity to transcend disciplinary, geographical, professional and institutional boundaries and cultures, to achieve the Program’s vision?

Research Environment – 10%

  • ­      Does the Research Environment in each node or institution provide high-quality intellectual support for the project?
  • ­      Are the necessary facilities to complete the Program available?
  • ­      Are there adequate strategies to encourage dissemination, commercialisation (if appropriate); and promotion of research outcomes?


Eligible Organisations

The organisations listed below are eligible to apply for funding under these Funding Rules.

New South Wales

        • Charles Sturt University
        • Macquarie University
        • Southern Cross University
        • The University of New England
        • The University of New South Wales
        • The University of Newcastle
        • The University of Sydney
        • University of Technology, Sydney
        • University of Western Sydney
        • University of Wollongong



        • Deakin University
        • La Trobe University
        • MCD University of Divinity
        • Monash University
        • Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University)
        • Swinburne University of Technology
        • The University of Melbourne
        • University of Ballarat
        • Victoria University



        • Bond University
        • Central Queensland University
        • Griffith University
        • James Cook University
        • Queensland University of Technology
        • The University of Queensland
        • The University of the Sunshine Coast
        • University of Southern Queensland


Western Australia

        • Curtin University of Technology
        • Edith Cowan University
        • Murdoch University
        • The University of Notre Dame Australia
        • The University of Western Australia


South Australia

        • Flinders University
        • The University of Adelaide
        • University of South Australia



        • University of Tasmania


Northern Territory

        • Charles Darwin University
        • Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education


Australian Capital Territory

        • The Australian National University
        • University of Canberra
        • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)



      • Australian Catholic University
      • Australian Council for Educational Research

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