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
1 April 2021

1. Introduction

These Guidelines provide information in addition to that provided in the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Procedures, in relation to:

  • advice to prospective applicants;
  • application;
  • application review;
  • application outcome;
  • response to Offer; and
  • enrolment including changes to enrolment.


2. Advice to prospective applicants

Responsibility for promoting research training opportunities and providing advice to potential applicants at the University is distributed broadly across individual researchers, enrolling units, research groups, Student Services and Engagement, the Graduate Research School, Marketing and External Engagement and USC International.

All enquiries from prospective candidates should be dealt with promptly and professionally. Initial HDR enquiries should be referred to Student Services and Engagement (information@usc.edu.au) to enable timely and consistent advice.


3. Application process

3.1 The applicant initiates the admission process by contacting the relevant University researchers setting out preliminary proposals for areas of research interest.

3.2 An application for admission to a HDR must be made via the prescribed application process as outlined on the University website and must include a research proposal and required supporting documentation. The research proposal may include:

(a) provisional thesis title;

(b) summary of proposed research;

(c) summary of relevant research literature;

(d) methodologies and methods to be used in the research; and

(e) statement of required resources.


3.3 An applicant seeking admission on the basis of professional research experience must provide an updated curriculum vitae, including contact details of their employer/supervisor who may be contacted by the University, to verify the claimed research experience and provide an assessment of the research activity.

3.4 The University reserves the right to request original or certified copies of supporting documentation (e.g. academic transcripts and completion certificates) as part of the admission process, as a condition of offer or at any time during candidature. Failure to produce requested original or certified copies of documents may result in withdrawal from the HDR program.


4. Application review

4.1 Admission decisions shall be based on:

(a) the applicant meeting the requirements for admission; 

(b) the quality and feasibility of the applicant’s proposed research project; 

(c) appropriate knowledge and skills to pursue the proposed research project; 

(d) the alignment of the proposed research project with the University’s research priorities; 

(e) the applicant meeting the minimum English language proficiency requirement set by the University;

(f) the enrolling unit having sufficient facilities and resources to fund and support the candidate and proposed research project to completion;

(g) the proposed program being completed in the recommended duration of candidature; and

(h) the University having sufficient academic expertise to support the candidate and the proposed research project.


4.2 Accepted applicants are normally admitted to probationary candidature. An applicant may be approved for direct entry to confirmed candidature, if the Dean, Graduate Research is satisfied that: 

(a) at the time of, or immediately prior to, applying for entry, the applicant was enrolled as a candidate for a HDR at this or another approved higher education institution;

(b) the research to be undertaken towards the degree is substantially the same as that undertaken by the applicant towards the other HDR;

(c) the applicant has not submitted for examination a thesis or dissertation based on the research undertaken by the applicant towards the other HDR; and

(d) the applicant has provided evidence of having made sufficient progress in the other HDR to warrant entry to confirmed candidature.


5. Application outcome

5.1 All applicants will receive written advice regarding the outcome of their application for admission to a HDR program.

5.2 A Letter of offer of admission to HDR candidature will include a Description of Candidature which stipulates the details of the candidature being offered, including but not limited to:

  • applicant name;
  • program offered;
  • start date;
  • duration of candidature (including any deductions following previous candidature consumption);
  • fee type;
  • enrolling unit;
  • campus location;
  • supervision panel;
  • research classification and research topic;
  • study load and mode and all;
  • candidature milestone due dates; and
  • candidature type expiry dates.


6. Response to Offer

6.1 To accept an offer, the applicant must complete acceptance procedures as specified in their Letter of Offer, including payment of all applicable fees.  

6.2 An offer of admission is valid for thirty (30) days from the date of issue, after which time the offer will lapse. Upon request in writing by the applicant, within twelve months from the date of issue of the original offer, the offer may be reinstated with the enrolling unit’s approval. An offer cannot be reinstated after twelve months from the date of issue and the applicant is required to submit an application following the standard application process. 

6.3 Applicants may request a single deferment of commencement. The application for deferral must be reviewed by the relevant Head of enrolling unit and where applicable, USC International, to allow appropriate reconsideration of the availability of resources required for the program.

6.4 International students on a student visa may only request a deferment in exceptional circumstances and will need to liaise with USC International in the first instance.


7. Enrolment and records maintenance. 

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

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

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

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