Higher Degrees by Research Admission and Enrolment - Guidelines | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Higher Degrees by Research Admission and Enrolment - Guidelines

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation)
Responsible Executive member
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation)
Designated officer
Manager, Graduate Research School
Last amended
13 March 2023

1. Purpose

1.1 These guidelines build on the information provided in the Higher Degree by Research Candidature - Procedures.  

2. Scope and application

2.1 These guidelines apply to all prospective higher degree by research candidates.  

2.2 These guidelines apply to all staff working in the HDR environment at the University. 

2.3 These guidelines sit under the Higher Degree by Research Candidature – Procedures and the Higher Degree by Research – Academic Policy. 

3. Definitions

Refer to the University’s Glossary of Terms for policies and procedures.  

4. Considerations for prospective HDR candidates

In addition to the entry requirements listed in the Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures, prospective HDR candidates should consider the following: 

4.1 Transferring from another HDR program

4.1.1 Research undertaken as part of an incomplete (thesis not examined) HDR program at UniSC or another institution will be assessed by the University during the admissions process. 

4.1.2 If the proposed research project is the same or similar to the work already completed, the time consumed in the previous HDR program will be recognised and the period of candidature in the current HDR program will be adjusted.  

4.1.3 Applicants who have undertaken research in another HDR program that has failed examination (thesis not awarded) will not be admitted on the same or similar research project.  

4.1.4 If successful in gaining admission, Candidates will commence as Probationary Candidates and be required to achieve Confirmation of Candidature.  

4.1.5 Exceptions to 4.1.4 may be made by the Dean, Graduate Research during the admissions process. 

4.1.6 Candidates in receipt of a Research Training Program Scholarship at another institution cannot transfer that scholarship to UniSC.  

4.2 Timelines

Candidates should ensure that they are undertaking this HDR program at a point that they can devote the required time and focus. 

4.2.1 The application process will typically take 6-8 weeks from the time a complete application is received and time an applicant is provided an outcome. 

4.2.2 Successful Domestic applicants can commence their program no sooner than one (1) month after an Offer for Admission is issued.  

4.2.3 Successful International applicants can commence their program no sooner than three (3) months after an Offer for Admission is issued. 

4.2.4 Successful applicants have one (1) month to respond to their Offer for Admission. If no response is received after one (1) month, the Offer for Admission will lapse. Lapsed offers cannot be re-instated and the applicant will be required to apply for admission again. 

4.2.5 Successful applicants may change their Start Date one time, if the Start Date included in their Offer for Admission is not suitable. 

4.2.6 If deferring the Start Date, the new proposed date must be within six (6) months of the original Start Date, and also comply with 4.2.2 and 4.2.3  

4.2.7 Successful applicants who cannot commence within the approved time period will be considered to have rejected their Offer for Admission and will be required to apply for admission again. 

4.3 Campus location/Study Mode

4.3.1 Applicants will be admitted as Internal/On-Campus candidates unless they have been approved for External/Off-Campus/Remote study. 

4.3.2 Applicants who do not intend to attend a UniSC campus should indicate this on their application for admission. 

4.3.3 The applicant’s Enrolling Unit will determine whether they can support an applicant remotely and make a recommendation to the Dean, Graduate Research. 

4.3.4 Considerations will include: 

  • Would the applicant have access to necessary resources, equipment, and facilities? 
  • Is there an external HDR supervisor in place to support the applicant, and if not, can the UniSC HDR Supervisors provide adequate support?  

5. Application process

5.1 Prior to submitting an application for admission, prospective HDR Candidates must engage a HDR Supervisor. The HDR Supervisor must agree to review the applicant’s application for admission once it is submitted to the University. HDR Supervisors are not required to provide pre-assessment of academic qualifications – this will be completed by the relevant University staff once official documents are received with a complete application. 

5.2 Prospective HDR Candidates who have engaged a HDR Supervisor must follow the instructions on the Research Students - How to Apply webpage. 

5.3 The University requires official transcripts and completion certificates (testamurs) for all degrees that are listed on the application for admission. 

5.3.1 For any degrees completed at an overseas institution, the University also requires certified copies of the required documents which must be provided electronically with the application. 

5.4 Prospective HDR Candidates are required to meet UniSC’s published English Language Proficiency Requirements. 

5.5 Complete applications, which include all required documents, will be recorded in UniSC’s application management system. 

6. Assessment process

6.1 Applications that include overseas qualifications and/or English Language Proficiency Requirements will be assessed by the International Office before the Enrolling Unit assessment process begins. 

6.1.1 Admission will also be consistent with the assessment of any overseas qualification by the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) or as documented in current Country Education Profiles issued by Australian Education International or grades awarded under the European Credit Transfer System for completed courses. 

6.1.2 Applicants who do not meet UniSC’s published English Language Proficiency Requirements will not progress beyond this stage. 

6.2 The Enrolling Unit assessment includes review of the application by the nominated HDR Supervisor, the HDR Coordinator, and the Head of the Enrolling Unit. 

6.2.1 Enrolling Units will consider the following: 

  1. proof of meeting the HDR Program’s entry requirements; 
  2. research capability; 
  3. quality of the research proposal; 
  4. feasibility of the research project to be completed within the HDR program duration;  
  5. feasibility of the research project to be completed with standard University resources, and if additional resources are required a consideration of how associated costs will be funded; 
  6. alignment of the proposed research with the Enrolling Unit’s and University’s research priorities; 
  7. HDR Supervisor capacity and expertise; and 
  8. any other relevant information that will determine whether applicant should be accepted into the program; and 

6.3 At the conclusion of the Enrolling Unit assessment, a recommendation will be provided to the Dean, Graduate Research. Where recommending that an application be accepted, the enrolling unit will include details of any conditions of candidature to be included in the letter of offer. 

6.4 The Dean, Graduate Research is the authority for making all HDR admission decisions. 

6.5 Provision is made to admit individual persons who may not meet the standard entry requirements but based on other considerations, are persons who have a high probability of success in research and whose admission is considered to bring benefits to both the University and the applicant. Approval of exceptional cases must consider equity of admission in relation to other applicants. 

6.5.1 Applications for entry under this category require the approval of the Dean, Graduate Research, upon recommendation by the Head of enrolling unit or delegate. 

6.6 The Graduate Research School will administer the admission decision, including communicate the outcome to the applicant. 

7. Application outcome

7.1 At the conclusion of the assessment process, applicants  will receive written advice regarding the outcome of their application for admission to a HDR program, normally to the email address nominated by the applicant in their application for admission form. 

7.2 Offer for Admission (Unconditional)

7.2.1 The applicant has been accepted into the HDR program and will receive an Offer for Admission (Unconditional) by letter of offer. 

7.2.2 An Offer for Admission (Unconditional) will be provided. 

7.3 Offer for Admission (Conditional)

7.3.1 The applicant has been conditionally accepted into the HDR program, provided they supply evidence of satisfying the specified condition by the due date provided. 

7.3.2 An Offer for Admission (Conditional) will include: 

  1. Letter of Offer specifying the condition that must be met before an Offer for Admission (Unconditional) will be made. 
7.4 Revise and Re-submit Application

7.4.1 The applicant has not been accepted into the HDR program at this time; however, they are invited to re-apply when items specified by the Dean, Graduate Research have been addressed. 

7.5 Unsuccessful Application

7.5.1 The applicant has not been accepted into the HDR program.  

7.5.2 An applicant who is unsuccessful in gaining admission to the University and who seeks a review of this decision should review the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy and associated procedures. The relevant decision maker will review the case and notify the complainant of the outcome of the review and the reason for the decision. There is no further avenue for appeals against this decision within the University. 

8. Response to Offer

8.1 Successful applicants must respond to their Offer for Admission within one (1) month of the date of the Letter of Offer. 

8.2 To respond, the completed Acceptance of Offer or Change of Start Date form must be returned to the University within the required timeframe. 

8.2.1 HDR Candidates who have accepted their Offer for Admission will be enrolled in their HDR Program on the Start Date and receive communication from UniSC with their University username and password. 

8.2.2 HDR Candidates who have had their Change of Start Date request approved will receive an updated Letter of Offer. 

8.3 Successful applicants can decline the Offer for Admission by emailing the University  

8.3 If no response is received after one (1) month of the date of the Letter of Offer, the Offer for Admission will lapse and will no longer be valid.  

9. Enrolment and records maintenance

9.1 To be enrolled in their HDR program of offer, accepted applicants shall have: 

  1. accepted an offer of admission to a program and shall have completed the enrolment procedures prescribed by the University; 
  2. paid such fees and charges as the University may require to be paid as a condition of enrolment, by the time the University requires such fees and charges to be paid; 
  3. completed the Student Declaration, thereby agreeing to abide by the policies and procedures of the University; and 
  4. completed any other procedures which may be required as a condition of enrolment. 

9.2 The Graduate Research School processes acceptance of offer for admission and coordinates the applicant’s enrolment with Student Services and Engagement. 

9.3 The Graduate Research School creates the candidate management record including all candidature milestones and due dates. 

9.4 Student Services and Engagement enrols the applicant from the commencement date and enrols them in any coursework components stipulated as a requirement of their program or as a specific condition of candidature. Student Services and Engagement notifies the applicant of their enrolment in a HDR, including advice of candidature commencement date. 

9.5 The Graduate Research School provides information for commencing candidates on the UniSC website. 



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