Postgraduate Research Scholarships - Procedures

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Postgraduate Research Scholarships - Procedures

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Responsible officer
Associate Dean (Graduate Studies)
Designated officer
Director, Office of Research
First approved
28 November 2016
Last amended
31 January 2017
Effective start date
8 December 2016
Review date
28 November 2021
Status
Active
Related documents
Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy
Research Training Program Scholarships - Managerial Policy
Scholarships, Bursaries and Prizes - Governing Policy
Superseded documents
Selection of Candidates for Postgraduate Research Scholarships - Procedures
Related legislation / standards
Higher Education Support Act 2003
Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017

Definitions

Please refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to these procedures and are critical to its effectiveness:

The Panel means the Postgraduate Research Scholarship Selection Panel, selected by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) to assess and rank applications for Postgraduate Research Scholarships by order of merit.

Postgraduate Research Scholarship (PGRS) means any financial support awarded by a competitive process to a student undertaking a higher degree by research.

1. Purpose of procedures

These procedures are intended to implement the Scholarships, Bursaries and Prizes – Governing Policy and the Research Training Program Scholarships – Managerial Policy, and also apply to other Postgraduate Research Scholarships at the university.

2. Procedures

2.1 Application and Selection

2.1.1 The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) will set an application closing date. Complete applications received on or before the closing date will be considered. Late applications and or supporting documentation will not be considered.

2.1.2 Applicants address each of the eligibility and selection criteria by attaching supporting documentary evidence to their PGRS application form. Applicants are responsible for providing all relevant documentation in support of their application for PGRS.

2.1.3 Eligible PGRS applications will be forwarded to the relevant Faculty for academic assessment against the PGRS selection criteria.

(i) For information on the Eligibility and Selection criteria, refer to the relevant PGRS Scholarship Schedule of Conditions provided on the USC website.

2.1.5 A Postgraduate Research Scholarships Selection Panel (the Panel) will be appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) to consider applications for all PGRS.

(i) The Panel will place each application in order of merit according to their ranking as outlined in the Selection of Candidates for Postgraduate Research Scholarships - Guidelines, and will prepare an Order of Merit List for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) for consider.

(ii) For topic-specific and/or out-of-round PGRS, the relevant Executive Dean or nominee will recommend an order of merit list to the PGRS Selection Panel for the consideration. For topic-specific scholarships, the Executive Dean or nominee will liaise with the Chief Investigator(s) in preparing the order or merit list.

(iii) For the annual scholarship selection round, the Faculty will place each application in order of merit and will return the top applications (up to 20) for scholarship consideration by the central PGRS Selection Panel.

2.1.6 The Order of Merit list is ratified by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation). Once an order of merit list has been ratified, changes will only be made in response to a decision regarding a review or appeal, as indicated in section 2.4, or when finalising provisional grades.

2.1.7 The Order of Merit list is confidential and distribution limited at the discretion of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation). The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation), reserves the right to use discretion in the allocation of any PGRS including the number of PGRS offered each year within the limits of available funding.

2.1.8 The Office of Research will advise all applicants in writing of the outcome of their application for PGRS. All notifications will be sent to applicants as soon as possible after the Panel meeting.

2.1.9 Letters of offer will include specific scholarship inclusions and estimated combined annual value, and will be accompanied by the relevant PGRS Scholarship Schedule of Conditions. An example is provided in Schedule 1 for the ‘Schedule of Research Training Program Scholarship Conditions’.

2.2 Acceptance

2.2.1 Successful applicants must return advice regarding their acceptance of the PGRS offer by the response to offer due date (normally within one month of offer). Applicants who do not respond by the due date forfeit their PGRS offer and an offer will be made to the next applicant on the Order of Merit list.

2.2.2 A PGRS holder may be accepted into an HDR program at the University and be unable to commence on the date originally offered. Applicants may defer their offer for scholarship for up to six months.

(i) The candidate must advise the Office of Research of such arrangements prior to the census date in the semester in which the candidate will have no enrolment. Faculty confirmation of the arrangement is required.

2.3 Scholarship maintenance

2.3.1 Candidates in receipt of a PGRS at USC are governed by the Higher Degrees by Research – Academic Policy and associated Procedures.

2.3.2 PGRS recipients must familiarise themselves with the PGRS Schedule of Conditions provided to them with their offer.

2.3.3 PGRS recipients who fail to adhere to notify the University of a change to their circumstances which impacts their PGRS entitlements will be required to repay any subsequent overpayment, usually through suspension of payments until such an overpayment is balanced.

2.3.4 Candidates who are found to have provided misleading or inaccurate information to the University will be immediately re-assessed for their eligibility for a Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

2.4 Review of Decision

2.4.1 An unsuccessful applicant, or a PGRS recipient may seek a review of a decision relating to a PGRS.

(i) In the case of an unsuccessful applicant requesting a review of decision not to award a PGRS, such a request must be made in writing to the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) within 14 days of the date of the written advice that their application was unsuccessful.

(ii) In the case of a PGRS recipient requesting a review of decision relating to their PGRS entitlements, such a request must be made in writing to the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) within 14 days of the date of written advice of the decision.

2.4.2 The Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) will conduct a review of the decision and provide a report to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation).

2.4.3 The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) will notify the applicant or candidate in writing of the outcome of the review within 7 days of the review being finalised. Candidates will be advised on any appeal options, as per the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy.

END

Schedule of Conditions - 2017

1. Introduction

A Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship is a Commonwealth Research Scholarship, in accordance with paragraph 46-20 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003. The following conditions are based on the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017 and adapted to comply with USC’s Research Training Program Scholarships – Managerial Policy.

This Schedule of Conditions applies to the following RTP Scholarships:

  • RTP Stipend Scholarships and RTP Allowances
  • RTP Fees Offset Scholarships

2. How to Apply

2.1 Applications for all RTP Stipend Scholarships and RTP International Fees Offset Scholarships must be lodged with the Office of Research by the advertised closing date. Applications may be lodged at more than one University. Applicants must apply separately to each prospective institution.

2.2 Application forms for this award can be acquired from the USC website: http://www.usc.edu.au/research/research-students/hdr-scholarships

2.2.1 Domestic applications will automatically be considered for an RTP fees offset scholarship as part of the admission process.

2.3 Continuing USC students who were offered, and or receiving, an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) and or a Research Training Scheme (RTS) fee supported place on or before 31 December 2016 will automatically be offered an RTP Scholarship of equivalent value, conditions and duration to their original offer of scholarship support. Continuing students will not be disadvantaged by the change to the Australian Government’s Research Block Grant funding.

2.3.1 Any changes to eligibility criteria will not be applied to continuing students, however continuing USC students who receive any RTP Scholarship support prior to submission of their final thesis are required to acknowledge the support received through the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship in their final thesis and any publications which relate to the research project carried out with RTP Scholarship support.

3. Eligibility Criteria

3.1 Prior to applying for any RTP Scholarship, applicants must first have been accepted to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research at USC.

3.1.1 To be eligible to receive RTP Stipend Scholarship, a student must not be receiving income from another source to support general living costs while undertaking their HDR if that income is greater than 75 per cent of the Research Training Program Stipend rate. Income unrelated to the students HDR or income received for the HDR but not for the purposes of general living costs will not be taken into account.

3.1.2 To be eligible to receive an RTP Fees Offset, a student must not be receiving an equivalent award or scholarship from the Commonwealth designed to offset HDR fees.

3.1.3 International students must meet international student visa requirements as specified by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and must comply with the conditions of their student visa.

4. Selection Criteria

4.1 Recipients for RTP Scholarships will be selected in order of merit on the following criteria:

4.1.1 Academic qualifications; and

4.1.2 Alignment of the proposed research to one of USC’s areas of research concentration; and

4.1.3 Record of research publications or non-traditional research outputs; and

4.1.4 Professional Research Experience

4.2 Preference will be given to applicants who have completed a Bachelor Honours Degree with minimum Class 1, or who are regarded by USC as having an equivalent level of attainment via previous study, relevant work experience, research strength, research publications and other research experience.

5. Period of Support (duration)

5.1 The standard duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship is three years for a student undertaking full time Research Doctorate studies, and six years for a student undertaking part-time study.

5.2 The standard duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship is one and a half years for a student undertaking full-time Research Masters studies, and three years for a student undertaking part-time study.

5.3 A recipient who begins as a candidate for a master level degree and who, before the maximum duration of one and a half years, changes to doctoral candidature, may hold the award for a total of up to three years full-time equivalent.

5.4 Periods of study already undertaken towards the degree prior to the commencement of the scholarship will reduce the duration of the award tenure.

5.5 The duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship will be increased by any periods of paid sick or maternity leave approved by USC.

5.6 The duration of a Research Training program scholarship will be adjusted by changes between full and part-time candidature. The pro rata equivalent of the remaining standard duration will apply.

5.7 Research Training Program Scholarship recipients may be granted an extension of up to six months where the award holder applies formally to the University, is making satisfactory progress and the grounds for the extension relate to the study that are beyond the control of the student, and where funding is available. Work commitments cannot be accepted as grounds for an extension.

5.8 In exceptional circumstances and where funding allows, Research Training Program Scholarship recipients who are enrolled in a doctoral degree may be granted a second and final extension of up to six months (total extension of 12 months).

6. Scholarship commencement

6.1 Recipients of Research Training Program Scholarships may commence anytime throughout the calendar year of award. Awards cannot be deferred to the following year under any circumstances.

6.2 All stipends will commence as of the day of HDR commencement.

7. Tuition Fee Offsets

USC’s annual tuition fees are published on the USC website.

7.1 The 2017 tuition fee offset value for higher degree by research programs is:

7.1.1 $5,000 per annum ($2,500 per semester), full-time equivalent for high-cost fields of education

7.1.2 $2,000 per annum ($1,000 per semester), full-time equivalent for low-cost fields of education

7.2 USC will subsidise remaining tuition fees for RTP Scholarship recipients for the standard duration of their program.

8. Stipend and Allowances

8.1 Stipend

8.1.1 The 2017 full-time base stipend is valued at $26,682 per annum. The level of the base stipend will be reviewed annually with no reductions occurring during the standard duration of the scholarship.

8.1.2 Stipend payments are made to the candidate on a fortnightly basis to their nominated Australian bank account, and are tax-free.

8.1.3 Part-time stipends rates are half the full-time rate and are not tax-free.

8.2 Allowances

An RTP Scholarship Recipient may claim up to a combined total of $2,000 to assist with their costs associated with undertaking their HDR at USC under the following categories:

8.2.1 Relocation

Where a student must travel a distance greater than 100km to the Sunshine Coast to commence a Higher Degree by Research on a RTP Scholarship:

(i) Removal expenses (excluding travel)

(ii) Travel expenses (one way)

(a) air travel expenses up to a maximum amount equivalent to an economy or student concession airfare, whichever is the lowest amount

(b) travel by car calculated using a per kilometre rate of allowance as determined by the University and consistent with current University recommended rates up to a maximum amount equivalent to an economy or student concession airfare, whichever is the lowest amount

(iii) Overseas Student Health Cover

International students may be required by the Department of Immigration and Boarder Protection to hold an Overseas Student Health Cover insurance policy for the duration of their student visa.

Claims for the relocation allowance must be made within six months of the date of commencement of the Scholarship. Original receipts and supporting documents must accompany the claim for relocation allowance form.

8.2.1 Publication or Thesis Printing

An RTP recipient may apply to be reimbursed for costs associated with academic publication arising from their HDR research, including preparation of the final thesis for examination. Recipients must demonstrate adherence to the Australian Government’s Research Training Program Scholarship” in any publications for which they are claiming reimbursement of costs.

9. Leave/Suspension Entitlements (Stipend)

9.1 Base leave (recreation, sick and carer’s leave)

Candidates are entitled to receive up to 20 working day’s paid recreation leave and ten working days’ paid sick leave for each year of the RTP Stipend. These base leave entitlements will be accrued over the life of the RTP stipend but will be forfeited when the RTP Stipend is terminated. Milestone dates will not be adjusted and these periods of base leave will not extend the total period of support (i.e. total scholarship duration described in section 4 are unchanged). Candidates do not need to apply for paid leave, but should discuss their leave needs with their Principal Supervisor.

9.2 RTP Scholarship recipients who are temporarily unable to continue their studies must apply to the Office of Research at least one month prior to the date from which they seek a period of unpaid leave and suspension of studies. The minimum period of suspension is two weeks.

9.3 The total period of suspension is normally added to the original tenure of the scholarship, excluding periods of base leave. If at any time during the suspension of the scholarship, the candidate undertakes enrolled study, this period will be deducted from the tenure.

9.4 Sick Leave

9.4.1 Additional paid sick leave of up to 60 days’ may also be received if the candidate is subject to medically substantiated periods of illness lasting longer than accumulated 10 days pro rata base sick leave. The University will extend the award to compensate for periods of leave beyond the accumulated sick leave.

9.4.2 Candidates must notify the Office of Research, in writing, as soon as they undertake a period of sick leave for more than 10 days. To claim additional paid sick leave, a formal claim form must be submitted to the Office of Research with a satisfactory medical certificate within two weeks of returning to study with an updated Research Plan.

9.4.3 Sick leave entitlements (base and additional sick leave) may also be used to cover leave for candidates with family caring responsibilities.

9.5 Maternity Leave

9.5.1 Upon completion of 12 months of continuous study, candidates are entitled to 60 working days paid maternity leave during their period of RTP Stipend support.

9.5.2 Leave must be arranged in advance with a doctor’s certificate attached to a leave form. Paid maternity leave must be taken at the time of birth. Periods of paid maternity leave are in addition to the normal duration of the award. The University will extend an award to compensate for an approved period of maternity leave.

9.5.3 Additional unpaid maternity leave may be taken through a leave of absence. Scholarship holders who have not completed twelve months of their award may access unpaid maternity leave through the suspension provisions.

10. Research at Other Organisations (e.g. Industry Placements)

10.1 The University may approve a request from a candidate to conduct substantial amounts of the research at organisations outside the higher education system. In such cases, the University remains responsible for the candidate and therefore must be satisfied that the organisation specified in the request can provide adequate support, supervision, training and research time for the candidate.

10.2 Research Training Program Stipend Scholarship payments will continue where an industry placement, research internship, professional practice activity is undertaken as part of their HDR within the original period of support (duration).

11. Research Topic

The University may approve a request from a candidates to change their research topic, provided the proposed change remains aligned with one of USC’s areas of research concentration. In requesting a change to their research topic, candidates must advise their proposed new Field of Education and Field of Research code.

12. Changes between full and part-time study

The University may approve a request from an RTP Scholarship Recipient to undertake part-time study. Such a requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. Where part-time study is approved, the remaining period of support is extended to part-time rate pro rata.

13. Transfer of program

The University may approve a request from an RTP Scholarship Recipient to transfer program. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, and in addition to matters provided in the relevant Academic Policy, consideration is given to availability of RTP funds to support the change.

14. Employment

14.1 Subject to approval by the University, a full-time candidate may be permitted to undertake a limited amount of employment, provided that such employment does not interfere with the recipient’s study program. Employment may not exceed 16 hours in any one-week if the RT Scholarship holder is to retain status as a full-time candidate.

14.2 Where such employment is as a tutor, (and each contact hour involves additional hours of marking, preparation, interviewing, and administration), the candidate must include additional duties in the calculation of total weekly work hours.

14.3 Work commitments cannot be accepted as grounds for an extension to or suspension of award.

15. Termination of Scholarship

15.1 USC must terminate a Research Training Program Scholarship under the following circumstances:

15.1.1 At the end of the period for which it was granted,

15.1.2 If the candidate fails to maintain satisfactory progress,

15.1.3 If the candidate changes their research topic without approval from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation);

15.1.4 Upon completion of the program,

15.1.5 The submission of the thesis, (an RTP Scholarship will not resume if revision is required following examination)

15.1.6 The death, incapacity, resignation or withdrawal of the candidate,

15.1.7 The candidate ceases to be enrolled full-time, with approval not being obtained for the candidate to hold the award on a part-time basis,

15.1.8 If the course of study is not being carried out with competence and diligence or in accordance with the scholarship offer, and no suitable alternative arrangements can be made for continuation of the postgraduate degree,

15.1.9 If the candidate does not resume study at the conclusion of a period of leave or does not make arrangements to extend that period of leave, or

15.1.10 If the candidate accepts another equivalent award, scholarship or salary to undertake their research higher degree that provides a benefit greater than 75 per cent of the base stipend rate and does not suspend their award for the period of the concurrent award, scholarship or salary.

15.1.11 Scholarships may also be terminated (or the candidate placed on probation) before this time if, after due inquiry, the University forms the view that the candidate has not complied with any of the conditions contained in this document.

15.1.12 Candidates must notify the Office of Research of any changes in their enrolment status which may affect their eligibility, or risk termination of the award. Benefits will cease on the date of termination of the award.

15.2 If an RTP Scholarship is terminated, it cannot be re-activated unless the termination occurred in error.

15.3 If an RTP Scholarship recipients may appeal a decision regarding the termination of their scholarship in accordance with the Postgraduate Research Scholarship – Procedures.

16. Specific Candidate Obligations

16.1 The academic policy which governs the scholarship recipient’s degree outline the responsibilities of the University, faculties, supervisors and candidates.

16.2 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to apply themselves diligently and to the best of their ability to the successful completion of the degree.

16.3 All HDR candidates shall abide by all relevant legislation on human and animal experimentation and rulings of the ethics committees of the University.

16.4 All HDR candidates are required to conform to the regulations, policies (including disciplinary provisions) of the University.

16.5 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to notify the University promptly of any changes in their circumstances that may affect their eligibility to continue receiving payments under the award. Where possible, candidates should provide a revised Research Plan at least one month in advance of the effective date of any such changes.

16.6 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to acknowledge the Commonwealth’s contribution when, at any time during or after completion of a HDR, his/her supervisor or any other party, publishes or produces material such as books, articles, newsletters or other literary or artistic works which relate to the research project carried out by the recipient of RTP Scholarship.

16.6.1 The Acknowledgement must be in a prominent place (e.g. RTP Scholarship Support recipients include the “Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship” in the Acknowledgements section of their thesis).

16.7 Candidates are also required to acknowledge that these Conditions are subject to any further or other conditions, including conditions as to funding of the awards, which may be made by the Department of Education and Training, or any other relevant government body.

17. Specific Obligations of USC

17.1 Ensure compliance with the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017, including but not limited to:

17.1.1 Monitor the Period of Support for each RTP Scholarship recipient’s support to ensure maximum durations are not exceeded (two years for research master candidates, four years for doctoral candidates), taking into account periods of approved leave; and

17.1.2 Award RTP Stipend Scholarships only as a result of a publicly available competitive process;

17.1.3 Award RTP Fee Offset Scholarships to international students only as a result of a publicly available competitive process;

17.1.4 Offer an RTP Scholarship in writing and include advice of the types of assistance and support being offered, the conditions and period of the support, and the estimated annual value of Australia Government support provided for each type of RTP Scholarship support;

17.1.5 Advise a student receiving and RTP Scholarship of any changes to their RTP Scholarship support.

END

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