Informal Research Activities
Many staff liaise informally with researchers all over the world regarding their research activities. Generally speaking, informal research is out of scope of the FA scheme. The activity will be in scope of the scheme only if there exists an arrangement in writing, committing the university to an activity/ies with a foreign government (or agency) or a foreign university that lacks autonomy. If unsure, please seek advice from the Global strategy team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Academics acting in an individual capacity - for example, academics receiving direct funding from foreign universities and foreign governments.
The Scheme only applies to Australian public universities when they enter arrangements with foreign governments or certain foreign universities, not individuals acting in their own right. Whether an arrangement is entered by the university or an individual is a question of fact. Arrangements that relate to funding for academics could be covered in certain circumstances. For example, where an academic enters a foreign arrangement while acting on behalf of their Australian public university. Where an academic enters an arrangement in their individual capacity under the auspices of a head foreign arrangement, that arrangement may also be considered a ‘subsidiary arrangement’ under the Scheme.
The Scheme is not intended to regulate arrangements with purely commercial corporations. To reflect this intention, corporations that operate on a commercial basis are excluded from the definition of ‘State/Territory entity’ and ‘foreign entity’. However, corporations that do not operate on a commercial basis are within the scope of the Scheme where they fall within the definition of ‘State/Territory entity’ or ‘foreign entity’.
Case Study 1
Researchers at an Australian public university are drafting an Australian Research Council grant application to undertake a study on the economic impact of migratory bird colonies for eco-tourism. The grant application proposes that researchers work collaboratively with colleagues at a foreign university that requires that academic staff adhere to political principles in their research. The application has not progressed through the university’s internal grants clearance process. The Australian public university does not need to notify the Minister at this stage.
Case Study 2
Researchers at an Australian public university submitted a grant application to undertake a joint study with a foreign government on regulating the import of second-hand utility vehicles. The researchers had identified contacts in the foreign government to help undertake the study. The application is rejected. The Australian public university does not need to notify the Minister at this stage.
Case Study 3
Researchers at an Australian public university have submitted a grant application to undertake a longitudinal study on the effect of early childhood education in reducing gender-based violence. The researchers have identified contacts in the education department of a foreign government to help undertake the study. The grant outcome has been issued to the university under embargo. The Australian public university does not need to notify the Minister until they propose to accept the grant and enter into a grant agreement.
Case Study 4
Researchers at an Australian public university were successful in a grant application to undertake a collaborative study on the effects of mass-surveillance on confidence in policing services and rates of violent crime. As part of the grant application, the researchers have sought to partner with a university that, by law, requires academic staff to be members of the political party that forms the foreign government. The grant application has been successful, and the researchers are finalising an agreement on research outputs and resourcing. The Australian public university is required to notify the Minister at this stage.