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Science and Research3.3 Higher Education R&D

3.3.1 Higher education resources devoted to R&D (HERD) by type of activity

HERD contributes more than 30 per cent to Australia's total spending on R&D.[73] Applied research, which is the largest category, is original investigation undertaken in order to acquire new knowledge. It is directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective, rather than purely the acquisition of new knowledge which is the goal of basic research.[74] In 2016, nearly a half of the research activity in the higher education sector was applied research ($5.3 billion or 48.5 per cent of total). Its share, as well as its dollar value, had been increasing steadily since 1994 when it was only 32.9 per cent of total or $602 million. By contrast, pure basic research, which recorded $652 million in 1994 (or 35.7 per cent of total research activity), increased by a much smaller dollar amount over the same period to $2.5 billion, thereby declining in proportional terms to just 22.8 per cent of total research activity.[75]

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3.3.2 Higher education resources devoted to R&D (HERD) by location

Roughly 60 per cent of total HERD is located in just two states — New South Wales and Victoria — and this geographical concentration has increased over the recent two decades. In 2016, 29.7 per cent of total HERD was located in New South Wales and 28.9 per cent in Victoria. The shares of Queensland and Western Australia have remained relatively steady over the period from 1994 to 2016, ending at 17.6 per cent and 9.0 per cent of total, respectively, in 2016. The offsetting decline in share occurred in the other states and territories, most notably the Australian Capital Territory, which recorded 14.7 per cent of total in 1994 and 5.8 per cent in 2016.[76]

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3.3.3 Higher education resources devoted to R&D (HERD) by source of funds

Total HERD is estimated at nearly $10.9 billion in 2016, with the primary contribution coming from general university funds. The dollar value of this source increased from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.1 billion in 2016, its share also decreased from 65.4 per cent of total in 1996 to 55.9 per cent in 2016. Much of this contraction in share can be accounted for by the increase of other Commonwealth sources of funds, which rose from 7.0 per cent to 14.8 per cent of total over the same period.[77]

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