Work of leading researcher has a high impact, says leading research body

11 April 2019
ARC delivers first assessment of university research
The Federal Government's research advisory body, the Australian Research Council (ARC), has recognised the work undertaken by the Business School’s Professor David Hensher for its "high" impact beyond the world of academia.
Professor David Hensher

Professor David Hensher

Director, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies

Professor David Hensher was one of 12 University of Sydney academics singled out in the ARC's first Engagement and Impact Assessment report on the wider benefits of research under taken by Australia’s Universities.

The ARC, which also administers the Government’s National Competitive Grants Program, concluded that the impact of Professor Hensher's research in the transport field was "high."

Professor Hensher is an internationally respected transport economist and Director of the Business School's Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) which he founded in 1991.

Professor Hensher's research, focusing on transport, infrastructure and logistics, has been cited more than 50 thousand times by scholarly publications.

Internationally, Professor Hensher is particularly well known for his work in the development and application of quantitative methods for studying individual choice in a way that can assist with the planning for future transport services and infrastructure.

Professor Hensher's methods have assisted state and national government to accurately value the user benefits and to more accurately estimate the cost of new transport projects. In 2013, his approach increased the cost of losing a life from $1.5m to over $6m which lead to a government revision of public investment in road safety.

"With 10 per cent of Australia’s GDP linked to moving things, more efficient transport significantly improves our international competitiveness," says Professor Hensher. "Predicting the number of people who will use new travel infrastructure is the biggest challenge when justifying investment in public transport or toll roads."

As Australia’s pre-eminent expert on travel demand and valuation, Professor Hensher has advised business and government here and in the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, USA and Fiji.

In 1977, this work lead to the adoption of the "Hensher formula for valuation of business travel," which is now used worldwide.

The University of Sydney’s performance in the ARC assessment was well above the national average, with the impact of 96 per cent of its research ranked at high or medium.

"The Engagement and Impact Assessment demonstrates the extraordinary role our research plays in the communities we serve – something I know my colleagues care deeply about," said the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison. "The process has also helped us identify even greater opportunities for the future."

Research engagement is defined as interaction between researchers and research end-users outside of academia, resulting in the mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge, technologies, methods and resources. 

Research impact is the contribution that research makes to the economy, society, the environment and culture beyond the contribution to academic research.​