Accepting and managing NHMRC grants

  • **NEW** Variation to your NHMRC grant due to COVID-19

    NHMRC Grant Variation due to COVID-19

    Grant Variations Policy
    The NHMRC recognises that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may be affecting many members of the Australian research community, including our current grant holders. If a grant holder’s circumstances have changed – for example, there has been a delay in Research Activity because of involvement in the clinical or public health response – RAOs can submit variation requests on behalf of the researchers. More details are available on the NHMRC COVID-19 impacts website

    The NHMRC has identified several variation types which may be relevant if the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on your project:

    Deferral of commencement date

    Use this variation if your grant has not yet started. Please see page 5 of the NHMRC Variations Policy for more information on what to include in this request.

    Deferral of an in-progress grant and extended leave requests

    Use this variation if your grant is midway through and you need to suspend it due to the impact of COVID-19 on your research progress. Please see pages 5-6 of the NHMRC Variations Policy for more information on what to include in this request.

    Extended end date

    Use this variation if your grant is near its end date, and if the effects of the COVID-19 situation have led to a significant impact on the completion of the study. Please see page 6 of the NHMRC Variations Policy for more information on what to include in this request.

    Change to research plan

    Use this variation if the impact of COVID-19 has lead to changes in the aims or objectives as specified in the application for the Research Activity and as approved in the peer review process for funding. Please see page 8 of the NHMRC Variations Policy for more information on what to include in this request.

    Change to Chief Investigator(s)

    Use this variation to remove, change, or add Chief Investigators (CIs). The removal, change, or addition of CIs is considered  exceptional circumstances. Please see pages 8-9 of the NHMRC Variations Policy for more information on what to include in this request.

    If you intend to submit a variation request, please note the following:

    • Extending a current grant may result in subsequent eligibility issues when applying for new grants, and this may impact all CIs named in the research team. The NHMRC are reviewing potential eligibility issues in light of recent events. We will provide further information when it becomes available. If you are unsure on how the change will impact on your eligibility for future grants please contact the Health and Medical grants team for advice via email
    • You may request a maximum of 12 calendar months extension in total for each of the variation types listed above. However, if you have been granted an extension previously, you will only be allowed to apply for what remains out of a 12-month period. For example, if you were granted a 6-month extension to your project, you will only have 6 months maximum to apply for.
    • Typically, the NHMRC does not provide additional funding if an extension is granted.
    • Extensions will NOT affect Research Support Packages for any current Investigator Grant holders who have had their RSP reduced due to concurrently holding a Project Grant/Program Grant.

    All variation requests must be submitted by the CIA through RGMS and certified by RIC. Instructions on how lodge a Variation can be found on pages 64 - 76 of the RGMS User Guide.

    When submitting a variation, you must:

    • Seek written approval (email) for the extension from your Head of Department AND your collaborators. The NHMRC obliges the RAO to retain copies of HoD approvals, so please attach a copy of the HoD approval to the Variation request.
    • NHMRC Scholarship holders must seek written approval (email) from their supervisor. The NHMRC obliges the RAO to retain copies of supervisor approvals, so please attach a copy of the approval to the Variation request. Scholarship holders are responsible for notifying their Head of Department of the request.

    Please direct all queries relating to NHMRC Variations and COVID-19 to the Health and Medical Grants Team at

  • Accepting the grant

    Research, Innovation and Commercialisation (RIC) will provide researchers with a copy of NHMRC paperwork as well as the 'internal research grant acceptance form' (RGAF). The chief investigator A (CIA) and the head of department must sign the RGAF.

    Signing the RGAF signifies that:

    • The awardee agrees to comply with the NHMRC funding agreement and any additional conditions specified in the award, including financial and reporting requirements.
    • The head of department accepts the award into the department, will provide the necessary infrastructure and agrees any funding shortfall between the NHMRC salary package and University salaries will be met from non-NHMRC sources.

    The pack may also include the following:

    • NHMRC letter of award
    • NHMRC schedule (inclusive of annual budget breakdown)
    • A budget form (if applicable). See the budget page for details.
    • A multi-institutional agreement (if applicable)
    • NHMRC ethics proforma (if applicable)

    Ethics approval

    Where applicable ethic approval is required before a project can begin, funds will not be released by NHMRC until ethics approvals have been provided.

  • Multi-institutional agreements

    All chief investigators named on the grant must agree on the distribution of funds between institutions. The chief investigators A (CIA) will be asked to enter the relevant details on the 'multi-institutional agreement' (MIA) and return the document to Research, Innovation and Commercialisation (RIC) who will arrange execution with all collaborating institutions. RIC will also provide the collaborating institutions with the supporting documentation (schedule 1).

    The NHMRC funding agreement requires that a MIA must be in place with all collaborating institutions even when no funds are to be transferred between the institutions. Standard agreement templates (2019 template) are currently in use within the Group of Eight (Go8) Universities, and overseas institutions must be included on this agreement when funds are to be transferred to those institutions.

    Where no funds are to be distributed to overseas collaborating institutions please contact RIC via email as a simple no-funds agreement will be used instead.

  • NHMRC funding agreements

    The NHMRC funding agreements (effective October 2015) describes the NHMRC's requirements in relation to the management of research funding by administering institutions and includes reference to several documents including the NHMRC policy on actions to be taken in response to research misconduct involving NHMRC funding and the 'institutional annual compliance report'.

    Although offers refer to a chief investigator A (CIA), fellow, scholar and a project, grants are legally awarded to administering institutions. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) will accept the award formally on behalf of the University of Melbourne and the project will be entered into the Themis agreements module.

    Creating a Themis agreement record and financial account (general ledger)

    A Themis agreement record will be created for each successful project.

    When acceptance paperwork has been completed and returned, Research, Innovation and Commercialisation (RIC) will contact Finance and Employee Services to activate the account (general ledger project) so financial transactions can commence.  The Themis record will list an agreement administrator - an administrative contact in the department who will be the first point of contact for daily management of the funding.

    Previous versions of the NHMRC funding agreements are available to view.

    Employing staff

    Research, Innovation and Commercialisation (RIC) is not involved in recruitment or appointment of staff paid from grants and fellowships, this is the responsibility of the department and faculty along with their HR staff.

    It is important to identify the source of funding when liaising with HR. Staff should refer to the specific funding agreement to ensure the University's obligations to the NHMRC are met with regard to staff appointments, particularly in relation to fellowships.

    If stipend funding has been requested, a studentship can be set up through Melbourne Scholarships. Refer to the Melbourne Scholarships page for details.

    Managing expenditure and changes to projects

    The chief investigator A (CIA) and their department are responsible for daily management of funding.  All funds must be spent in accordance with the funding agreement, special conditions in the letter of award, the original grant application and the multi-institutional agreement.

    University of Melbourne chief investigators and the agreement administrator can view grant details by logging into Themis research self-service (agreements workbench).  A copy of the funding agreement, letter of award, funding schedule, multi-institutional agreement and any NHMRC approved variations will be attached to the record.

  • Variations and transfers

    All grants funded by the NHMRC are offered in accordance with the Funding Agreement between the NHMRC and the Administering Institution. The funding includes a requirement for regular administrative activities and reporting.

    Funding is awarded after a peer review assessment process. There are often extenuating circumstances that affect the original proposal for funding and in these cases a request for grant variation is required.  These include changes to personnel, leave requests, suspensions, changes to planned budget expenditure and transferring the award to a different administering institution.

    Supporting documentation required for Grantee Variations Policy and Grantee Variations Procedure including Advice when seeking NHMRC approval for a variation can be found on the NHMRC Managing your Funding website. Please contact RIC for confirmation of any additional internal documentation required e.g. HOD letter of support.

    When requesting a grant variation the Chief Investigator A (CIA) must use the NHMRC on-line Research Grant Management System (RGMS) and submit a Grant Variation request.

    NHMRC Scholarship Variations

    Melbourne Scholarships (MS) administers NHMRC scholarships. For variations relating to NHMRC Scholarships, MS should be contacted in the first instance for further advice and for clarification of eligibility.

    Scholarship extensions of up to six months may be possible in certain circumstances. MS will liaise with the NHMRC and advise RIC accordingly.

    Information and who to contact for variations can be found on the following Scholarships page.

    Carry Forwards and Extensions

    During the grant (other than the final year)

    Any unspent funds will automatically carry forward during the grant period, there is no longer a requirement to submit a carry forward/extension request unless it is the final year of the year.

    In the final year of the grant

    If it is anticipated that there will be unspent funds at the end of the Funding Period and the Research Activity may not be completed, an 'Extend Grant Duration' variation request must be submitted via RGMS one month before the end date of the grant. Extensions are approved on a case-by-case basis by NHMRC and are not guaranteed. Any requests submitted after this will not be accepted by NHMRC. Refer to the NHMRC Variations webpage for information and supporting documentation to be submitted with the variation request. If the request is approved by the NHMRC, annual Technical and Financial Reporting dates will then be amended accordingly to fall in line with the new end date.

    Transferring Administering and/or Actual Institutions

    Transfers can be made from either an Administering Institution or Actual Institution, as defined below:

    • An Administering Institution is responsible for all aspects of administration of the grant, including financial aspect.
    • An Actual Institution is where the research is being conducted or is the primary workplace of an Investigator.

    The Administering and Actual Institutions may be the one and the same or they may be separate Institutions.

    The procedures below set out the responsibilities of each of the following entities to transfer a grant to another Administering Institution:

    • Chief Investigator A (CI)
    • Relinquishing institution
    • New institution
    • NHMRC

    All requests for the transfer of awards are to be submitted via RGMS. It is the responsibility of the CIA to drive the transfer process and to ensure that the completed transfer request is submitted to NHMRC in a timely manner.

    Completing the Request to Transfer a Grant

    1. Completing the Request (Chief Investigator A) When a decision to transfer to another Institution is made by an Investigator, the CIA on the grant must complete and certify a variation request through the Grantee Variation section of RGMS. After the request has been certified by the CIA, the request will become available to the Research Administrative Officer (RAO) of the relinquishing Institution for RAO certification before it is submitted to the NHMC
    2. Completing the Request (relinquishing Institution) After the CIA has certified and submitted the transfer request to the RAO, the RAO is to ensure that all relevant information is provided to facilitate the transfer, and the RAO then certifies and submits the request to NHMRC through RGMS.

    Note that the relinquishing Institution must provide a transfer acquittal statement within four weeks of the requested date of transfer.  The relinquishing institution must also provide the accepting institution with a copy of the application, letter of award, schedule and ethics clearances.

    Once the transfer has been approved, the NHMRC will issue relevant paperwork to the new administering institution and the CIA will be advised.

    Additional Scheme Specific Requirements (Fellowships, Scholarships, Program Grant)


    Standard letters to be uploaded to RGMS include:

    • A letter of support from relinquishing institution
    • A letter of support from the accepting institution
    • A letter from the scholar requesting the transfer and outlining the reason for the transfer
    • A letter of support from the current supervisor
    • A letter of support from the proposed supervisor
    • CV of the proposed supervisor
    • A letter of support from the new HOD


    Standard letters to be uploaded to RGMS include:

    • A letter of support from relinquishing institution
    • A letter of support from the accepting institution
    • A letter from the Fellow requesting the transfer and outlining the reason for the transfer

    In addition, Early Career Fellowship holders must also include the following:

    • A letter of support from the current supervisor
    • A letter of support from the proposed supervisor
    • CV of the proposed supervisor
    • A letter of support from the existing HOD
    • A letter of support from the new HOD

    Program Grants

    The Transfer of Program Grants will trigger an additional Program Grant Administrative Review. The NHMRC will instigate an Administrative Review where a CI either intends:

    • leaving the Program
    • changing their institution
    • changing their employment from that detailed in the original application or approved previously through Administrative Review

    If a CI leaves and the NHMRC determines that the Program is still viable, the team will be given the opportunity to put forward a replacement CI from the effective date of departure. However, where there is a gap between the departure date and the replacement date, the budget will be adjusted to provide pro-rata funding. NHMRC is to be notified of such instances, in advance, through the Program's RAO. The Administrative Review of Program Grants (August 2013) document contains a brief outline of the process and the Administrative Review Submission to be completed and submitted to the NHMRC through RGMS.

    Internal Transfers

    The transfer of a grant between departments requires the completion of a Themis TR1D form which should be submitted to RIC.

    Project codes are affected and sign off is required by Heads of Department (both relinquishing and accepting).

    Sharing funding between UoM departments

    The Themis TR1F form should be used when changes need to be made to department sharing arrangements within the University of Melbourne.

  • Reporting

    With effect from 1 April 2015, Progress Report and Mid-term Report forms are no longer required. Researchers are expected to update their CV in RGMS on an annual basis (end of June each year) including linking outputs and outcomes to the relevant NHMRC grant ID number. NHMRC still requires the submission of a Final report and failure to do so will impact on eligibility for future applications. The change to reporting requirements does not apply to Partnership Centres.User guides for submitting Final Reports through RGMS are available via the NHMRC website.

    Final Reports

    A Final Report must be submitted within six months of the completion of the approved funding period for all awards. The Final Report form, submitted via RGMS, has been reduced and focuses on Achievements and Expected Future Outcomes. Information provided in Final Report may be posted on the NHMRC website, and may also be used for media purposes, promoting research achievements or performance reporting. Failure to provide the Final Report is a default under the Funding Agreement and may be a relevant consideration in relation to further applications for NHMRC funding.

    Chief Investigators should have provided information on the achievements of a grant through their annual update of their RGMS CV, and are encouraged to keep their RGMS CV up-to-date even after the Final Report is submitted. This enables NHMRC to evaluate long-term scientific, health and economic impacts of NHMRC funded research. Grant applicants can also use this information to demonstrate research outcomes from their previously held NHMRC grants.

    Scholarship Reporting

    NHMRC Scholarships do not require reports to be submitted by the student and there is no longer a requirement for a Final Report to be submitted by Supervisor.

    For 'Renewing and extending the scholarship’ please refer to the Melbourne Scholarships page. Scholarships are administered by Melbourne Scholarships and any extension requests must be submitted via RGMS. Scholarship holders must liaise directly with Melbourne Scholarships.

  • Non-lead NHMRC grants

    Submission of Non-Lead NHMRC Applications

    Applicants involved in projects not administered by the University of Melbourne, are referred to as non-lead grants. Non-lead NHMRC applications do not need to be entered in Themis Submissions at the time of application, however RIC will need to be aware of the proposal if central contributions are required

    The lead/administering institution on the application is responsible for review and submission of the application to the NHMRC.

    Notifying RIC and Setting up a Multi-Institution Agreement

    The Lead Institution is responsible for accepting the grant on behalf of named project personnel and all personnel are responsible carrying out the project in accordance with the NHMRC Funding Agreement. The Lead Institution should enter into a Multi-Institution Agreement (MIA) with all collaborating institutions. The MIA should be put in place even if no funds are being shared. Standard MIA templates have been set up within the Group of Eight (Go8) Universities, and it is the University’s preference to use these even when collaborating with universities outside the Go8.

    The University of Melbourne CI should liaise with the lead CI/Administering Institution and agree on the dispersal of funds.

    RIC will require the following documentation sent by email to :

    • a copy of the grant application
    • a copy of the letter of award  and schedule
    • a copy of the draft MIA provided by the Administering Institution

    RIC will review the MIA, obtain the University's authorised signatory and return a copy of the MIA to the Administering Institution.

    Themis Agreement Record and Financial Account

    If the University of Melbourne is to receive funds from the non-lead grant, RIC will create a Themis Agreement record and request Finance and Planning to open a financial account (GL project).  In cases where the University of Melbourne receives no funds, a Themis record will still be created for reporting purposes.

    Finance and Planning may request a budget form from the CI or department.

    University of Melbourne researchers are able to view details of the grant by logging into Themis Research Self Service (Agreements Workbench).  A copy of the Funding Agreement, Letter of Award and MIA will be attached to the record.  All funds must be spent in accordance with the MIA, the Funding Agreement, any Special Conditions and the original Grant Application.

    Invoicing deliverables will be entered against non-lead grant records in accordance with the funding distribution in the MIA.

    Variations to Non-Lead Projects

    If project circumstances change, approval may need to be sought from the NHMRC.  Variations must be requested via the CIA through the Administering Institution's research office.

    Reporting and Carrying Forward Funds

    Completion of technical and financial deliverables to the NHMRC is the responsibility of the CIA/Administering Institution. Any Carry Forward of unspent NHMRC project funds and Extension is the responsibility of the administering institution, a copy of any approvals should be forwarded to collaborating institutions.

  • Key contacts
    For financial management questions Finance and Employee Services (Research Accounting)
    For grant conditions and variations Research, Innovation and Commercialisation
    For recruitment and employment practices Human resources
    To view project details Themis (research self-service)
  • Budget resources