Budget development and resources

The development of a comprehensive research budget that reflects the true cost of the research is the first crucial step when applying for external research funding. The following resources and information support budget development.

  • Key contacts

    The Research Office provides advice on the interpretation of funding rules and budget requests to ensure what is being requested is appropriate. The Office also help with:

    • possible access to exemplar applications
    • completing and approving the Budget Approval Form
    • advice regarding internal approval processes for accessing leverage funding from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research Development and Industry).

    Research Faculty Liaison Officers

    Research Faculty Liaison Officers are located within the Faculty. They work alongside the Associate Dean Research to:

    • Provide assistance with accessing Faculty specific leverage funding and seed funding available through Faculty Compact funding initiatives.
    • Provide assistance with costing research budgets.
    • Establish funding alerts and funding opportunities within the Research Professional funding database.

    Centre Business Managers

    Centre Business Managers are accessible for researchers whose grant will be administered by one of the four University Research Centres. They can provide:

    • expertise on costing your budget prior to the application being lodged to the Research Office
    • access to any Centre specific funding schemes that support grants aligned with the activities of the Centre

    Any Centre-specific levies or advice that is relevant to aligning the budget to Centre priorities and administrative costs should be discussed with the Centre.

    Discipline Experts

    Discipline Experts are part of your network of colleagues who have previous experience in creating budgets and applications directed at specific funding organisations or for a specific purpose.

    Where possible researchers are encouraged to seek the input of a discipline expert or previously successful applicant to the same funding body who will be a good resource to review your application and provide valuable support.

  • Budget Approval Form

    The Budget Approval Form (referred to as the BAF) is designed to help you develop your budget at the application phase. The BAF can help you:

    • cost your project into separate funding years
    • incorporate income and expenditure items from several internal and external sources either as a cash or in-kind investment to the project
    • calculating budget expenditure, such as:
      • academic and professional salary expenses
      • travel expenses
      • computer shop expenses
      • catering
      • printing
      • current scholarship rates

    For all funded projects, researchers need to complete the BAF. This should match the project budget approved under the research agreement.

    The BAF also facilitates the creation of the project budget in the University finance system. For assistance in completing the BAF researchers can contact the Research Office or Research Centre Business Managers.


  • Employment Cost Calculator

    The Employment Cost Calculator is an interactive excel spreadsheet.

    The staff costing builder allows the user to add positions of an area/unit (except of Executive positions) into a sheet, which then calculates the staffing costs including salary rates, leave loading, workers compensation and payroll tax where applicable to an individual appointment. It can also be used to simply cost a single position.


  • University leverage support

    University leverage is used to support research costs or demonstrate in-kind commitment to a project above what you are requesting from the funding organisation. Forms of leverage include both cash and in-kind investment.

    Requests for leverage support are considered on an individual application basis and should be deemed necessary requests that enable the conduct of the research. Leverage funding can come from several sources within the University – Schools, Faculty Associate Deans Research, Research Centres, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research Development and Industry) (DVC-RDI).

    How to request university leverage support

    The following steps provide a guide to requesting university leverage support.

    1. Notify the Research Office of your application in an upcoming scheme

    Particularly where there is tight deadlines the sooner you let us know the greater capacity for support and review of the application.

    2. Approach your School, Faculty or Centre

    • Discuss your proposal with your Head of School, Associate Dean Research and/or Centre Director.
    • Confirm the support of your School, Faculty or Centre for your proposal in writing (e.g. email), detailing the level of cash and/or in-kind funding being provided and any conditions of that support.
    • The DVC-RDI will not consider providing leverage support to a proposal where there is no internal cash and in-kind support secured.

    3. Approach external partners (if applicable)

    • It is strongly recommended that you commence internal Charles Sturt University negotiations before approaching an external partner.
    • In discussions with external parties, please ensure they understand that you have not yet received final approval to submit from Charles Sturt University. This does not occur until sign-off from the DVC-RDI.
    • Confirm the external parties support in writing, or as per the requirements of the funding scheme in preparation for your application.

    4. Submit your application

    Send your application in a single email titled the scheme name, include your name and the external closing date to research@csu.edu.au with the following attachments:

    • final proposal
    • completed and signed Notice to Submit
    • any other relevant information (e.g. evidence of internal and external parties support)

    It is essential that we receive a complete package of information no later than 10 working days prior to an external closing date.

    5. Proposal review

    We will refer your proposal to the DVC-RDI for consideration as part of the compliance and checking process and will notify you of the decision as soon as possible.

    Requests for leverage funding made directly to the DVC-RDI will be returned without consideration.

  • Levies and fees

    Competitive Neutrality Levy

    At an institutional level, the University is obligated through Australian Government legislation to apply the Competitive Neutrality Levy (referred to as CNL) where funding is received for research purposes under a competitive basis.

    CNL legislation stipulates commercial activities must be charged at a competitive rate and Charles Sturt University must recognise cost advantages that arise from being part of a large, government-funded institution.

    These cost advantages arise from a range of areas, including:

    • the University's tax-free status,
    • shared infrastructure, and
    • centralised services such as payroll, finance and IT, which typically underwrite the direct costs of a project.

    Applicants must apply the Universities advised CNL rate when developing their projects budgets. There are limited exemptions to this levy, outlined in Budget Approval Form instructions. The Research Office will review all project applications on an individual basis to determine the applicability of CNL to the project.

    For further information on CNL requirements applicants can speak to your Faculty Associate Dean Research, Research Centre Director or the Research Office.

    Administering Unit Overhead Charges

    If funding guidelines permit, the Administering Unit may add a percentage overhead to recover administrative resources required to manage the research project. This overhead will be charged in addition to the University CNL.

    Applicants are encouraged to discuss any administrative levies with your Faculty Associate Dean Research, Research Centre Director or the Research Office when developing the project budget.

    Consultancy or Contract Research Mark-up

    This is only applicable to research consultancies and contracted research services, not research grants. It replaces the Centre/ Faculty overhead charge and it is expected this mark-up be included for all research consultancies and contracts.

    As per the Outside Professional Activity Policy which covers research consultancies and contracts, surplus funding on conclusion of a project will be dispersed within the University accounts in accordance with Part Q.

    The mark-up will be calculated as a percentage of the project direct costs (salary and non-salary) as an estimate of the surplus on conclusion of the consultancy or contract. When costing the mark-up you should consider the funding source, the total project budget and competitive pricing. The Budget Approval Form can be used to assist in applying a mark-up to the full research project budget.