Attracting European Scientists to Australia


For early-career scientists, short-term contracts often mean little breathing room between starting a new position and having to think again about where to take their career next. But if job insecurity is a major downside in a research career, it also comes with a degree of freedom that few other career paths can offer. For young scientists willing to ride the wave, the opportunities to combine research with a lifetime experience are plentiful. Among all destinations it seems Australia’s got it all: labs with an international reputation, English as the primary spoken language, sandy beaches, a relatively low cost of living, and (as Australia becomes more keen to appeal to talented foreign scientists) hard cash opportunities.

So beyond contacting embassies and major funding organisations such as the European Molecular Biology Organisation ( EMBO) and the Human Frontier Science Programme ( HFSP)–which promote researchers’ mobility and scientific collaborations across Europe and beyond–where should young Europeans look to fund their research trip to Australia? Next Wave has put together a list of funding sources with dedicated programmes to send or attract overseas scientists to Australia, to give you an idea of what kind of opportunities are out there. This list is far from being exhaustive and you are strongly encouraged to check the eligibility requirements and deadlines for each of these offerings to find the ones that best suit your needs and circumstances.

Funding for Postgraduate Studies

Australia is now putting a lot of effort into recruiting foreign scientists, including Europeans, primarily through the Endeavour Programme. The Endeavour Programme, which now pulls together all of the international scholarships funded by Australia’s Department of Education, Science and Training, is offering 330 new International Postgraduate Research Scholarships ( IPRS) each year. The scholarships give students of any nationality (except New Zealanders) the opportunity to come to Australia to study full-time towards a master’s or PhD degree, for 2 or 3 years respectively. Applications should be made directly to the Australian institutions you wish to attend as they are responsible for the selection process. The awards cover tuition fees and health insurance costs for students, as well as their dependants. For a list of the participating institutions and how many new scholarships each was allocated for 2004, download the report.

The 15 Australia-Europe Postgraduate Student Awards are also part of the Endeavour Programme. They are offered to 14 students from the 25 European Union Member States, and one student from Norway, Switzerland, or Croatia. Awardees may stay for up to 3 years, with a minimum of one semester, to study or carry out research towards a master’s degree or PhD qualification. The degree may be affiliated with the Australian institution where the awardees are studying or the European institution they are coming from. The awards are up to AU$50,000 (about ?29,200), including two one-off allowances of AU$5000 (about ?2,920) each, one to cover your travel costs and the other to help you find your feet in your new country, and a monthly stipend of AU$3333 (about ?1,950). The stipend, however, only lasts for up to a year.

Another organisation that may help you find funding for your postgraduate studies in Australia is IDP Education Australia. Their awards offer money for a multitude of nations, including European ones, and they also cover all the science disciplines. For example, through the IDP Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, a joint initiative between IDP and individual Australian universities, up to six postgraduate students from the UK are enabled to study in Australia towards a master’s or PhD degree. The awards cover a stipend, course and tuition fees, basic health insurance costs, and airfare.

Other ports of call are online searchable databases such as the Study in Australia Scholarships Database ( SIA) and the Joint Academic Scholarship Online Network ( JASON), where you may search for opportunities according to location and discipline.

Even if you have set foot on Australia without a scholarship in hand, it is still possible to secure one. Every year, the University of Sydney considers all international students who have spent a year there for their International Student Merit Scholarships, which reward students for excellence in their postgraduate (or even undergraduate) coursework. When applying for an IPRS at the University of Sydney, you will be automatically considered for an International Postgraduate Award ( IPA), those being given to help students handle their living costs.

Funding for Research Visits

There is also money available for those who prefer to visit, rather than stay, in Australia. This year, new Research Fellowships have been added to the Endeavour Programme to allow postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers to work there for 4 to 6 months, while pursuing a master’s or PhD degree in Europe or a postdoctoral project. Awardees will receive up to AU$5000 (about ?2,920) for both travel and establishment allowances and AU$ 2500 (about ?1460) as monthly stipend. Like the IPRS, Europeans will be competing with the rest of the world for these awards, only three out of the 21 fellowships being open to Europeans.

Money is also available for junior faculty members. For example international fellowships are being offered by the Australian Research Council ( ARCIF) via the Linkage International Programme. From postdocs to senior researchers, overseas scientists are eligible to come and work in Australia (and vice-versa) for up to 12 months. Awards may cover the salary of the fellow and also operating costs. You may not apply directly for the fellowship, instead you have to submit a grant proposal with an Australia-based chief investigator who will then proceed to name you as a participant in the collaborative research project. Some of these fellowships have to comply with specific eligibility requirements under bilateral agreements. These currently exist between Australia and France, as well as Australia and Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the UK, such as the Anglo-Australian Observatory fellowship agreement.

Many Australian institutions also have international bilateral agreements that fund researchers within specific fields. For example, if you are in the UK and have postdoctoral experience in the humanities and social sciences, then you are eligible for funding for a joint research project via the British Academy, the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. The latter must be at least of postdoctoral level and may last up to 12 months. One award of up to £8000 (about ?12,100) for humanities/social sciences projects or two awards of £4000 (about ?6,050) are offered annually to cover the travel and maintenance costs of visiting scientists.

On a more local scale, some universities have their own programmes to promote international science exchange. The University of Queensland ( UQ) in Brisbane annually allocates funds to promote the involvement of overseas researchers in collaborative projects. Scientists visiting partners at the university may stay for at least 4 weeks, and the UQ Travel Awards for International Collaborative Research will cover airfare to Brisbane as well as visa fees. Similarly, Queensland University of Technology ( QUT) offers Visiting Fellowship Awards. Foreign scientists may stay at QUT for 30 to 180 days, while receiving a maximum allowance of AU$12,000 (equivalent to about ?7,000) towards their travel and living costs. Although there is no allowance to support dependants, the costs of the fellow’s medical and travel insurance are usually footed by the host faculty.

Funding for Workshops

You may decide that committing yourself to life in a new country, even for a few months, is not an option that may suit your aspirations or circumstances. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy opportunities to travel through your research, though. You’ll find that institutions and other organisations with bilateral agreements often have a dedicated pot of money to cover international travel and living expenses associated with collaborative research projects and workshops–see for example, the French-Australian S&T Programme ( FAST).


Finally, you should remember that although securing funding is often a prerequisite for a move to Australia, securing a visa is also essential. You’ll find help and information on how to work out immigration issues on the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Web site.

Funding Outside the Box

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