Higher Degrees by Research Support Grant - Guidelines | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Higher Degrees by Research Support Grant - Guidelines

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Responsible Executive member
Dean, Graduate Research
Designated officer
Manager, Graduate Research School
First approved
23 October 2020
Last amended
13 March 2023

1. Purpose

1.1 This guideline describes the funding provided by the Graduate Research School to support HDR candidates. The Higher Degrees by Research Support Grant (HDRSG) funding is to support HDR students in their program of study by offsetting some of the direct costs of their research.

2. Scope and application

2.1 These guidelines apply to all HDR candidates and all staff working in the HDR environment at the University (including Supervisors).  

3. Definitions

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

4. Funding Amount

4.1 As described in the Research Training Program (RTP) Legislation (Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research), 2017) grant amounts to universities to support HDR training are differentiated by Fields of Education (FoE) recognising the relative cost of research training in high-cost fields compared with low-cost fields, and by level of award. It follows that the university’s contribution to supporting the cost of research for HDR student projects should also recognise this.

4.2 Doctoral candidates conducting research in high-cost fields may access up to $6000 in HDRSG while those conducting research in low-cost fields may access up to $3000 over the duration of their candidature.

4.3 Master by Research candidates may access up to $2000 in HDRSG funding for high-cost fields and $1000 for low-cost fields.

4.4 Probationary HDR candidates may access up to one third of the total HDRSG prior to confirmation of their candidature.

5. High-Cost and Low-Cost Fields of Education 

5.1 The high-cost and low-cost Fields of Education for the purposes of RTP grant amounts are defined by the FOE. High-cost FOEs are those set out in the table below and low-cost FOEs are those not listed in the table.




Physics and Astronomy


Chemical Sciences


Earth Sciences


Biological Sciences


Other Natural and Physical Sciences


Manufacturing Engineering


Process and Resources Engineering


Automotive Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Industrial Engineering


Civil Engineering


Geomatic Engineering


Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Technology


Electrical Engineering


Electronic Engineering


Computer Engineering


Communications Technologies


Aerospace Engineering


Aircraft Maintenance Engineering


Maritime Engineering


Environmental Engineering


Biomedical Engineering


Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies


Medical Studies






Veterinary Studies


Human Movement



6. Approvals, Funds Administration and Oversight

6.1 Candidates request access to the HDRSG by submitting a project budget with a HDR Budget Approval Request via USC Central. To determine the maximum amount of HDRSG they are eligible to receive, candidates can refer to sections 4 and 5 of this Guideline.

6.2 If supported by the Principal Supervisor and the enrolling unit’s HDR Coordinator, the Dean, Graduate Research may approve the candidate’s HDRSG budget proposal.

6.3 The Graduate Research School forwards to Financial Services each approved HDRSG application including the relevant student ID and Field of Education and the candidate’s and the approved budget and enrolling unit name.

6.4 Financial Services creates the project account within the relevant enrolling unit’s cost centre. Funds will be administered via accounts managed by the enrolling unit in accordance with the candidate’s HDRSG budget as approved by the Dean, Graduate Research.

6.5 Expenditure of funds will be reported on as part of the standard financial expenditure reporting systems for the enrolling unit.

6.6 The Principal Supervisor and the relevant Head of School/Institute (or their financial delegate) are responsible for ensuring that all HDRSG expenditure follows the relevant UniSC financial policies, procedures and guidelines.

6.7 Any unspent or surplus HDRSG funds at the end of the project must be returned to the Graduate Research School.

6.8 Any expenditure that is non-compliant with these Guidelines will be considered an overspend which will be recovered from the enrolling unit.

6.9 Any overspend against these HDRSG accounts are the responsibility of the enrolling unit.

7. Acceptable Expenditure of HDR Support Grant 

7.1 The HDR Research Support Grant expenditure must directly support the costs of conducting the HDR candidate’s research. This may include but is not limited to the following: 

  1. Equipment (including computing equipment – note: such equipment and software if purchased using HDRSG funds must be purchased via UniSC IT Services and will remain the property of the University).
  2. Fees for access to internal and external research facilities (e.g., UQ CMM, QUT CARF, QFAB, UniSC CAVE, etc.).
  3. Materials and consumables.
  4. Software (including licences to use software relevant to the research project).
  5. Participant recruitment
  6. Data and/or access to databases, archives, footage and recorded materials.
  7. Travel - when it is directly related to the research project (including the presentation of results of the research).
  8. Costs associated with the production and/or performance of creative works which are part of the HDR research project (e.g. art, books, music).
  9. Transcribing audio/video records.
  10. Storage or archiving of materials and records.

8. Unacceptable Expenditure of HDR Support Grant

8.1 Specific items not supported by the HDRSG include (but are not limited to):

  1. Article Processing Charges (APCs) for open access journals.
  2. Printing, binding and production costs of a hard copy of the thesis.
  3. Proof reading or editing of thesis or manuscripts
  4. Consultancy costs on fee for service work.
  5. Research assistant/Field work assistant costs.
  6. Training costs when expertise is already available at UniSC.
  7. Business cards.
  8. Gift cards.