The Federal Government has launched an independent review into the Australian Research Council Act 2001. 

The review will consider the role and purpose of the Australian Research Council (ARC) within the university research system “so it can meet current and future needs”.

The ARC funding system has faced significant criticism over grant delays and longstanding accusations of political interference.

This was particularly clear last year when Coalition MP Stuart Robert, then the acting education minister, decided to veto funding for six ARC research grants in the humanities.

A Senate committee earlier this year found that the ARC Act “may no longer be fit for purpose” and called for a review in light of “broader concerns about the ARC and its governance and research funding processes”.

The review will focus in particular on how the ARC’s legislation can be developed to provide clarity on objectives and processes to drive renewed focus, and consider whether the scope of the current legislation is sufficient to support an effective university research system.

Federal education minister Jason Clare has appointed a three-person Panel to manage the ARC Review, including Professor Margaret Sheil AO (Panel Chair) - Vice-Chancellor and President, Queensland University of Technology, Professor Susan Dodds - Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research & Industry Engagement) at La Trobe University, and Professor Mark Hutchinson - Director of the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.

The government has also published the terms of reference for the ARC Review.

Members of Australia’s research community have welcomed the review.