New ANZSRC classifications

Published by on the 11 August 2020

Higher Education Research Classifications Update

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classifications have recently been updated following extensive consultation with researchers, universities, peak bodies and other users of the classification system across Australia and New Zealand. Changes that appear in the new version of the classifications (ANZSRC 2020) impact the Field of Research [FoR] classifications for Higher Education Research and Scholarship of Learning and Teaching.


ANZSRC 2020 classification system is used for the measurement and analysis of research and experimental development (R&D) undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. It helps to ensure that R&D statistics are useful to governments, educational institutions, and organisations. These classifications are applied in the Excellence in Research for Australia exercise.

Three related classifications encompass:

Type of Activity (ToA)

Four types of activity applicable to R&D are recognised: pure basic research, strategic basic research, applied research and experimental development.

Field of Research (FoR)

FoR is a classification for research activity according to the methodology used in the research, rather than the activity of the unit performing the research or the purpose of the research.

Socio-Economic Objective (SEO)

The SEO classification allows R&D activity to be categorised according to the intended purpose or outcome of the research, rather than the processes or techniques used.

The changes in ANZSRC 2020 classifications reflect changes in research practices over the last decade.

What has changed

The recent review resulted in significant changes across classifications. New Divisions in ANZSRC 2020 classifications have been created for Indigenous research in both the Socio-Economic Objectives (SEO) and Fields of Research (FoR) classifications. Numerous changes have also occurred at the lower levels of the classification codes.

For further detail of the process and scope of changes please see the ANZSRC Review 2020 Outcomes Paper.

Some changes that impact Higher Education Research and Scholarship of Learning and Teaching include:

  • FoR CODE changes: A large number of changes have been made to the FoR classification at all levels. All Divisions, Groups and Fields have been re-ordered in alphabetical order, and to limit confusion between the 2008 and 2020 versions of the classification, FoR Divisions are now ordered from 30 in ANZSRC 2020.
  • Education (formerly Division 13)  is now Division 39 and a new group has been added for ‘Education policy, sociology and philosophy’ (3902). Under the Group: Education Systems (3903) is the Field of Higher Education (390303).
  • Discipline-specific FoR codes relating to education can be selected eg: Engineering education (401002) so also check for discipline options (you can split percentages across fields).
  • SEO CODE changes: The Sector level of the SEO classification has been removed to streamline the classification. All Divisions, Groups and Objectives have been re-ordered in alphabetical order and to limit confusion between the 2008 and 2020 versions of the classification, SEO Divisions have been renumbered from 10 in ANZSRC 2020.
  • Education and Training: is now Division 16 (formerly 93), with Higher Education now 160102.
  • Indigenous research has been a focus of this review involving significant engagement with Indigenous research communities in Australia and New Zealand. Indigenous research being classified appropriately will ensure that this important area of research is better recognised.​​​​​​​
  • FOR Code 45 Indigenous studies: This is a new Division. Almost all previous FoR codes related to Indigenous research were at the Field level only.
  • SEO Code 21 Indigenous: This is a new Division. All previous SEO objectives related to Indigenous research were at the Objective level only.

Selecting appropriate codes for your research

You can access the full list of new classification tables at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. Each classification set is downloadable as an Excell spreadsheet. You will see that each classification set has three levels, as expanded sub-categories. For example, FoR codes include (at the highest level) Divisions (2 digits), which are based on a broad discipline. This expands into Groups (4 digits), which share the same broad methodology, techniques and/or perspective within the Division; and finely grained Fields (6 digits).

For example, illustrated below is the hierarchical structure for Higher Education research:

Division  39 Education
Group  3903 Education Systems
Field  390303 Higher Education

If you look at the full tables you may find multiple Divisions/Groups/Fields that represent your research and you can split proportions across them when you enter the data into your university research activity database.