UNSW Scientia Fellowship FAQs

UNSW Scientia Fellowship FAQs

What is the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program?

The UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program, established as a cornerstone of the UNSW 2025 Strategy, aims to attract and retain the highest research performers on a trajectory to being exceptional research leaders and mentors.

What is the goal of the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program?

The Program aims to enhance the culture of research excellence, mentoring, career development, leadership and community, and to have a positive impact on research output quality, impact and citations metrics and reputation results.

What are the benefits of the Fellowship?

Fellowships will provide a pathway to continuing academic appointment for appointees not already on a continuing appointment at UNSW.

A development and collaboration support package of $20,000 to $40,000 per annum, depending on level, and access to a unique range of development opportunities across research, teaching and learning and leadership and engagement relevant to career stage are unique elements of the Program.

Flexibility will be via options for planned exit and re-entry to the UNSW workforce for personal or professional reasons.

What are the expectations around leadership and development?

Scientia Fellows new to UNSW will participate in an introductory program to facilitate their effective transition into UNSW and its research excellence culture. All Fellows will access on average two career development and planning sessions every year throughout their Scientia tenure and follow these up with participation in relevant professional and research development provided through UNSW.

Leadership development for Scientia Fellows will also feature, with the expectation that these skills and experiences enable them to become effective mentors. Each Fellow will have a centrally supported career coach appointed at the start of the Fellowship, and Fellows will be expected to participate in mentoring as mentor and mentee. Fellows are expected to participate in all professional development opportunities offered by the Program and through mentoring other UNSW academics, support the enhancement of research excellence. 

Can the funding provided support research equipment and consumables?

No. The development and collaboration support package is not intended to provide substantive research support funding as it is expected that recipients will already hold research support from external sources. However, Fellows coming from outside Australia without research funds available may request expenditure for research purposes. The support package cannot be used to fund Research Assistants, purchase materials, or develop infrastructure.

What can the funding be used for?
  • international travel for collaboration and knowledge exchange
  • domestic and international travel for conferences
  • leadership programs 
  • other career development opportunities 
  • Up to 50% of the first year’s package can also be used to partially support relocation costs.

Fellows will develop an annual performance and development plan including a fully justified budget for all development activities, international collaboration and other related expenses, to be approved by the Head of School.

Are there any other expectations of Fellows?

Fellows will be expected to engage with activities that align with Strategy 2025. These include activities under the three pillars: social engagement, global impact and academic excellence.  Examples include interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and global development.

Appointed Fellows who do not have an externally-funded fellowship applicable to their discipline such as from the ARC or NHMRC at the time of their appointment will be expected to actively seek other external research funding during the course of their Fellowship.

Fellows are required to submit an annual report detailing their progress and a final report is to be submitted at the completion of the Fellowship.

How many Fellows will be appointed in the Scientia Fellowship Program?

Over the ten year lifespan of the program up to 290 researchers will be appointed into research intensive Fellowships. Over forty Fellowship appointments will be made at academic levels A to D in 2018 for commencement in 2019.

At what academic level will Scientia Fellows be appointed?

Scientia Fellowships will provide a pathway to continuing academic careers for internal and external applicants entering the program at any point from Level A to C. Appointment at Level D will be considered if there are no significant infrastructure and start-up costs. For Level D appointments requiring significant infrastructure a SHARP application should be submitted. For more information see the SHARP webpage

Am I able to apply for promotion while in the Scheme, and is the criteria the same as for other academic staff?

Yes. Scientia Fellows apply for promotion using the same promotion process as all academic staff. On successful promotion from level A to level B, the support package will increase from $20,000 to $30,000pa. On successful promotion from level B to level C the support package will increase again to $40,000pa.

Will I be expected to teach?

Yes. Scientia Fellows will be expected to include teaching and learning and development in their plans. While these are research-focused Fellowships with research excellence criteria for advancing through academic levels, teaching and learning is an essential and valued part of an academic career. The balance of research, teaching and service responsibilities, including postgraduate supervision, expected of Fellows will be negotiated with the relevant Faculty/School (or Faculties in the case of cross-Faculty appointment) at the time of appointment. The Academic Expectations Framework provides additional guidance.


How long are the Fellowships?

Initial Fellowship tenure will be four years. Second and subsequent terms of Fellowships will be awarded for four years on condition that performance criteria to be met, and for the life of the program. 

What if I am currently on a longer contract with UNSW?

If you already hold a contract longer than four years with UNSW, the initial term of the Fellowship will be increased to match the current contract. Second and subsequent terms will be for four years and will be awarded subject to continuing performance against agreed research excellence criteria and for the life of the program.

What if I already have an ongoing appointment with UNSW?

If you already have an ongoing appointment with UNSW, the appointment to Fellowship will be four years, with second and subsequent terms of four years awarded subject to continuing performance criteria and for the life of the program.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Applicants can be internal UNSW staff or external applicants and must hold a doctoral qualification at the time of application. The qualification must have been conferred prior to the closing date for applications

Priority appointment areas

For 2019 at least fifteen positions will be earmarked for Indigenous Researchers (Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander), Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines and Interdisciplinary Research in support of the University’s strategic plan. 

Interdisciplinary research is defined by the Australian Government Australian Research Council (ARC) as: Interdisciplinary research can be a distinct mode of research or a combination of researchers, knowledge and/or approaches from disparate disciplines. Interdisciplinary research is taken as an overarching term that incorporates a multitude of terms used to describe research approaches that do not fit within a traditional single disciplinary structure. (Australian Government ARC statement) If you identify with one of these priority areas, please note this in the appropriate section of the application form. 

How do I apply?

A call for applications will open on 28 May and close on 22 July. The information required for application is available on the ‘apply now’ site and is summarised in the Guidelines. A PDF version of the application form can be downloaded for review, but all applications must be made through the unsw.edu.au/Apply website. Applications that are not submitted online, are incomplete, or do not follow the instructions provided on the form will not be considered.

What are the selection criteria?

Fellows will be selected on the basis of research excellence (relative to opportunity), fit of research proposal with Faculty research areas, and alignment with strategic priorities. In particular, applicants must demonstrate the alignment of their research with Faculty specific areas of focus and Faculty researchers. The Scientia Fellowship Program will also embed diversity in appointment practices to ensure appropriate gender representation, cultural diversity and disciplinary expertise.

When can I start?

Start dates will be negotiated directly with Faculties, with all appointments commencing after January 1, 2019.

Where can I get more information about the research focus of the Faculty?

For further information about the research focus of individual Faculties, please see the links below:


What are the performance criteria during the Fellowship?

If you are external to UNSW when you apply, clear performance criteria for progression to continuing employment will be developed between the Fellow and UNSW at the commencement of the appointment.

All other Fellows will negotiate performance criteria based on discipline appropriate metrics at entry to the Scientia Fellowship Program.

What if I do not meet the performance/research targets during the Fellowship?

Those unable to maintain their performance criteria within specified timeframes will be offered a two -year safety net, for performance improvement or to allow time to find alternative employment if not yet on a continuing position.

If I am a current VC postdoc, can I apply for a Scientia Fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

If I hold another Fellowship, how will my Scientia Fellowship be affected?

If an existing external Fellowship is held, remuneration will top up the difference between that Fellowship and the value of the Scientia Fellowship. Once the existing external Fellowship has ceased, the full amount of the Scientia Fellowship will be provided by the UNSW Scientia Fellowship Program.

When will I be notified about the outcome of my application?

Once the appointments have been confirmed, the University will notify all applicants in writing of the outcome of their application. Unsuccessful applicants can expect to be notified by November 2018.

What if I have further questions?

For further information, email scientia.research@unsw.edu.au