The roles and responsibilities of the Council are set out in the NSERC Act and By-laws.
The Council collectively represents the academic research and private sector research and development (R&D) communities in natural sciences and engineering, as well as other stakeholder groups in the Canadian research ecosystem. The Council’s main responsibilities are to set the strategy and high-level direction for NSERC, to review and to evaluate performance. The Council advises the President to achieve the greatest strategic impact and to advance Canada’s R&D agenda. The Council is not responsible for the actual operations of NSERC, including financial expenditures.
The Council provides advice on funding allocations to broad program areas for grants, scholarships and fellowships. The responsibility of reviewing applications rests with NSERC’s various selection committees. Council members are not normally involved in these reviews. However, the Council may be asked, on an exceptional basis, to give final approval on certain awards.
The Council is advised on policy and programming matters by standing committees that are responsible for overseeing, where appropriate, the work of selection committees and panels. The committee structure adopted by the Council enables it to devote most of its deliberations to broad policies and strategic direction.