Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures

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Higher Degrees by Research Candidature - Procedures

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Responsible officer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation)
Designated officer
Dean, Graduate Studies
First approved
29 July 2014
Last amended
30 January 2019
Effective start date
17 January 2019
Review date
30 May 2022
Status
Active
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Superseded documents
Higher Degrees by Research - Procedures
Related legislation / standards
Higher Education Support Act 2003
Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018)
Australian Qualifications Framework
National Code of Practice Providers of Education ... Overseas Students
Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017
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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:

Candidate means a person admitted to a Higher Degree Research course at the university (also known as a “student”).

Candidature means duration of enrolment in a higher degree by research program. A Research student is considered to be a “candidate” for the higher degree by research program in which they are enrolled. All research and related work towards fulfilment of the requirements for a higher degree by research must be completed during enrolled candidature.

Confirmed candidature means period of enrolment in a HDR program after the successful completion of the Confirmation of Candidature milestone, up to the date of expiry of candidature for that program.

Co-Supervisor means a USC academic staff member who meets the criteria for and has been approved for registration as a USC HDR supervisor, but has not yet supervised a research student to successful completion of their degree. A registered co-supervisor may join an individual student’s supervision panel as a co-supervisor only (i.e. may not be appointed to a student’ panel as their principal supervisor).

Consultant supervisor means a person appointed to a student’s supervision panel who does not meet the criteria for registration as a USC supervisor. Consultant supervisors are usually external to the university, but may also be USC staff who do not meet the criteria for registration as a supervisor. Refer to the HDR Supervision – Procedures for a detailed description of a co-supervisor’s roles and responsibilities.

Creative work means an original product designed, created or constructed by a candidate during candidature deriving from one or more of the creative arts including graphical and new media techniques.

Exegesis means a scholarly, critical commentary on the original creative work in dialogue with, and informing that original work or collection of works, resulting from research undertaken and produced during candidature. The exegesis also includes explicit reference to the research methodologies employed in the creation of the original creative work.

Leave of Absence means a voluntary and temporary suspension of the higher degree by research candidature, also known as “break from studies”.

Monitored candidature means candidature that is placed under three-monthly review after being identified as not making satisfactory progress (or being at risk of not making satisfactory progress). Monitored candidature is designed to provide intensive support to a student to support achievement of their research goals and candidature milestones within maximum durations of candidature.

Principal Supervisor means a USC academic staff member who meets the criteria for and has been approved for registration as a USC Principal HDR supervisor. A registered principal supervisor may join an individual student’s supervision panel as the student’s principal supervisor or as a co-supervisor. Refer to the HDR Supervision – Procedures for a detailed description of a principal supervisor’s roles and responsibilities.

Probationary candidature means period of enrolment in a HDR program up to and including the successful completion of the Confirmation of Candidature milestone, or the date of expiry of probationary candidature for that program (whichever comes first).

Significant research component means a substantial research project undertaken with appropriate research methodology.

Thesis means an original substantial piece of scholarly writing resulting from research undertaken by a candidate and produced during candidature to meet the requirements of the degree.

1. Purpose of procedures

These procedures provide the framework for HDR candidature at the university. They should be read in conjunction with the Higher Degrees by Research - Academic Policy, and the following associated procedures and guidelines:

  • Higher Degrees by Research Supervision – Procedures
  • Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Submission and Examination – Procedures
  • Higher Degrees by Research Admission and Enrolment – Guidelines
  • Higher Degrees by Research Confirmation of Candidature – Guidelines
  • Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Presentation – Guidelines
  • Higher Degrees by Research Thesis Review – Guidelines
  • Higher Degrees by Research Examiners – Guidelines

Refer to https://www.usc.edu.au/research-and-innovation/research-students/hdr-candidature

2. Advice to prospective candidates

Responsibility for promoting research training opportunities and providing advice to potential applicants at the university is distributed broadly across individual researchers, schools, research groups, Student Services and Engagement, the Office of Research, 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. Entry requirements

This section should be read in conjunction with the ‘Higher Degrees by Research Admission and Enrolment – Guidelines’.

3.1 Doctoral degrees

To be eligible for admission to a doctoral degree, an applicant shall hold:

(a) a Bachelor Honours degree (AQF Level 8) with a significant research component with a minimum of Class IIA from a recognised higher education institution; or

(b) a Masters degree (AQF Level 9) with a significant research component equivalent to Honours degree research component from a recognised higher education institution; or

(c) a Bachelor degree (AQF Level 7) from a recognised higher education institution, and shall have achieved by subsequent work and study a standard equivalent to at least Class IIA Honours as may be approved by the Research Degrees Committee, or the Chairperson acting on behalf of the Committee; or

(d) a record of research or professional qualifications deemed by the Research Degrees Committee, or the Chairperson acting on behalf of the Committee, to be of a standard equivalent to at least Bachelors Honours degree Class IIA and providing a suitable background for the doctoral research the candidate is proposing to undertake.

In addition to this, an applicant for admission to the Doctor of Creative Arts shall:

(e) provide a portfolio containing evidence of the applicant’s own original work which is assessed by the Head of School, as providing evidence of very high levels of creativity, knowledge and skill in one or more creative areas.

3.2 Research Master degrees

To be eligible for admission to a research Master degree, an applicant shall hold:

(a) a Bachelor degree (AQF Level 7) with a Grade Point Average of 5.0 or higher on a seven point scale from a recognised higher education institution; or

(b) a Bachelor Honours degree (AQF Level 8) Class IIB from a recognised higher education institution; or

(c) a record of qualifications and/or professional research experience deemed to be equivalent to the standard of (a) or (b) as may be approved by the Research Degrees Committee, or the Chairperson acting on behalf of the Committee.

3.2.1 The prior study must be in an area of study relevant to the discipline area of the Master degree. If the prior study has not included an appropriate preparation in research methodology, the candidate will be required to undertake an appropriate research methodology course, as specified by the relevant Head of School, as part of their candidature.

3.2.2 The admission requirements for a specific Master degree may include additional requirements, such as a Bachelor degree in the relevant discipline, professional registration, a specified number of years of professional practice, or other requirements indicative of a suitable preparation to undertake a research program at Master level. Admission requirements for specific HDRs are available on the university website.

3.3 English language proficiency requirements

3.3.1 Proficiency in the English language is required for entry to all programs and courses and any international or domestic applicant from a non-English speaking background must satisfy the university’s standard and program specific English language requirements.

3.3.2 The university’s standard and program specific English language requirements are approved by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) on the recommendation of the Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Quality). These must be readily available for all students and displayed on the university web site.

3.3.3 Any changes to the university’s standard or program specific English language requirements must allow a sufficient lead time for the entry of students and must be approved through the appropriate channels. Test scores must be not more than two years old at the time of application. If the applicant has undertaken more than one test, then only the most recent test result will be considered.

4. Application for admission

4.1 The applicant initiates the admission process by contacting the relevant USC researchers setting out preliminary proposals of areas of research interest.

4.2 An application for admission to a HDR must be made via the prescribed application process as outlined on the USC website and must include a research proposal and required supporting documentation.

The research proposal will 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;

(e) Statement of required resources.

4.3 Applicants who submit an incomplete application will receive one notification that their application is incomplete and will have one month to submit any outstanding documentation. If the application remains incomplete after one month, the application will be disregarded.

4.4 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 USC, to verify the claimed research experience and provide an assessment of the research activity.

4.5 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.

5. Admission decision

5.1 The Head of School is the authority to make an offer of admission for admission categories outlined in clauses 3.1(a), 3.1(b), 3.1(e), 3.2(a) and 3.2(b). For admission categories outlined in clauses 3.1(c), 3.1(d), 3.2(c) and exemptions to the English language proficiency requirements, the Head of School will make a recommendation to the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, who has the final decision-making authority. The Head of School and the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, have the authority to decline an application for admission.

5.1.1 Applications for admission to candidature are assessed by the proposed school of enrolment. Admission decisions shall be based on:

(a) the applicant meeting the requirements for admission; and

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

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

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

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

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

(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.

5.1.2 Exceptional Cases and Special Offers

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.

Applications for entry under this category require the approval of the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, upon recommendation by the Head of School.

5.1.3 Prior research work undertaken as a candidate in a research higher degree undertaken at this or another recognised institution may be recognised towards the degree, provided that it has not been recognised for another award. Recognition of work done prior to admission, normally results in a change in the maximum thesis submission date. For students transferring between Australian institutions, the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Research Training Program (RTP) apply.

An applicant previously enrolled in an HDR on the same or a similar topic at this or another institution who has failed the examination for the degree will not normally be admitted as a candidate.

5.1.4 Applicants are normally admitted to probationary candidature. An applicant may be approved for direct entry to confirmed candidature, if the relevant Head of School 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; and

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

(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.

5.2 An applicant who is approved for admission to a higher degree by research will receive a letter of offer.

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

5.3 An applicant who has been denied admission will be advised in writing of that decision and the reason for it.

6. Response to offers

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

6.3 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.

6.4 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.

7. Right to withdraw offers

7.1 The Head of School and Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, has the right to withdraw an offer for admission or cancel enrolment of any person where an offer was incorrectly made on the basis of incomplete or inaccurate or fraudulent information supplied by the applicant or a certifying authority. Any such decision should take into account equity principles and the amount of time that has elapsed between the admission of the student and the identification of this error.

8. Fees

8.1 All candidates must pay the Student Services and Amenities Fee. Information about this fee, including payment options, is provided on the university website.

8.2 A candidate’s offer letter for admission to HDR candidature will provide advice on their tuition fee liability. Where applicable, a subsequent scholarship offer letter will provide information about fee scholarship including scholarship value, conditions and duration.

8.3 Domestic candidates (Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and Australian permanent residents) pay tuition fees in accordance with the standard tuition fee schedule, processes and due dates. Information about domestic tuition fees, including payment options, is provided on the university website. Student Services and Engagement (Student Central) provides advice to domestic candidates about their tuition

fee liability, including payment options.

8.4 International candidates (candidates other than domestic candidates) pay tuition fees in accordance with approved international tuition fee schedule, processes and due dates. Information about international tuition fees is provided on the university website. International students also pay for their Overseas Student Health Cover. International students on an externally funded scholarship are responsible for liaising with the funding provider for advice about extension to funding (if required).

8.5 Student Services and Engagement (Student Central) provides advice to all students about fee payment options, processes fee payments and follows up on outstanding fees. The student enrolment system provides advice to candidates about fee liability implications throughout candidature as appropriate (e.g. extension requests, change from full-time to part-time, leave of absence). Candidates are responsible for ensuring that they understand their fee liability at all times during candidature.

9. Standard of academic and research conduct

9.1 Candidates are expected to undertake their program in accordance with the accepted standards of academic conduct, including the Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy. Any form of conduct that is contrary to these standards is misconduct and may be penalised under the Student Academic Integrity - Governing Policy, and/or the Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy. The Responsible Research Conduct – Governing Policy applies to all research activities. The Student Academic Integrity – Governing Policy applies to formal coursework components of a higher degree by research.

10. Candidate support

10.1 HDR candidates are provided with essential information to undertake their HDR by their supervision panel, their enrolling school and the Office of Research. Commencing candidates are provided with HDR induction materials. In addition:

10.1.1 international students commencing candidature are provided with an International Student Orientation.

10.1.2 students utilising specialist equipment such as laboratories participate in relevant specific inductions.

10.1.3 commencing candidates must participate in all relevant induction and orientation sessions as advised by their school of enrolment and the Office of Research.

10.2 The school of enrolment and Asset Management Services, manage the allocation of space and facilities for HDR students. All full-time candidates who spend the equivalent of a standard working week on campus are allocated a workspace (subject to availability), if requested. Part-time candidates have access to shared work spaces.

10.3 Student Wellbeing offer support to students including (but not limited to) confidential counselling, academic services and disability services.

10.4 Student Services and Engagement provides a range of support services to students including first-instance support to HDR students.

10.5 USC International provides information about maintaining compliance with student visa matters.

10.6 Information Technology Services provides a range of technical services to HDR students.

11. Period of candidature

11.1 A candidate is required to maintain a current enrolment throughout their candidature, completing re-enrolment procedures as required, up to the time at which they lodge their thesis or exegesis and creative work for examination or terminate their candidature.

11.2 A candidate enrolled in a HDR may not undertake concurrent coursework study in any program at this or other higher education institution without the permission of Dean, Graduate Studies.

11.3 A candidate enrolled in an HDR may not undertake concurrent HDR study in any program at this or other higher education institution.

11.4 Duration of program

Table 0.1

Doctoral Degree FTE Duration Research Masters Degree FTE Duration

Maximum probationary candidature

1.5 years 1 year

Minimum program

3 years 1.5 years

Maximum program duration (including examination and revisions)

4 years 2 years

The duration of a part-time program is double the full-time equivalent.

11.4.1 If a candidate changes between full-time and part-time candidature, the minimum and maximum submission dates are adjusted pro rata. The principal supervisor is the authority for approval for changes between part-time and full-time enrolment. Scholarship recipients must also comply with the conditions of their scholarship regarding study mode changes.

If a candidate is given credit for work undertaken prior to admission, the minimum and maximum submission dates are adjusted accordingly.

International students on a Student visa must complete program requirements by the program end date listed in their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).

11.4.2 In exceptional circumstances, a candidate may be given permission by the Dean, Graduate Studies to submit their thesis or exegesis and creative work prior to the minimum submission date.

11.4.3 When the candidature is full-time, it is expected that only a limited amount of time will be available for undertaking paid employment. As a general guide, 18 hours of paid employment per week should be the limit. If the student holds a scholarship, the limitation on paid employment may be prescribed in the relevant scholarship conditions booklet. Students on a student visa must check their work rights attached to their student visa.

12. Extensions to milestones and candidature

There are two types of extension requests, a Milestone Extension Request and a Candidature Extension Request.

12.1 Milestone Extension Request

An extension request that moves subsequent candidature milestone due dates within the maximum periods of probationary and confirmed candidature. Milestone extension requests require the support of the primary supervisor and are approved by the Dean, Graduate Studies. A plan and progress review must be completed and submitted with the extension request.

Table 0.2

PhD candidates

PhD candidates may apply for up to 3 x 3 month (FTE) milestone extensions during their candidature, including submission.

Research master candidates

Research master candidates may apply for up to a maximum of 4.5 months (FTE) during their candidature, including submission, with no request exceeding 3 months in duration.

12.1.1 No more than two extensions may be used per milestone. Extensions will only be approved where the candidate experiences events which have direct impact on the progress of research, and justification for the extension must be provided.

12.1.2 Where an extension is being sought, the extension request must be submitted to the Office of Research at least two weeks prior to the milestone due date.

12.1.3 Any milestone not completed by the due date and an extension request has not been submitted to the Office of Research two weeks prior to the milestone due date will result in the candidate being invited to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated.

12.2 Candidature Extension Request

An extension request that extends the maximum duration of probationary or confirmed candidature.

12.2.1 These requests are approved by the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee.

12.2.2 They are only considered for exceptional circumstances and will incur further fee liability (including to domestic students who were on a RTP Fee Offset Scholarship supported place).

12.2.3 Requests for extension of candidature requires the candidate and supervisor to provide an updated plan and undertake a progress review with the completed documentation submitted with the extension request.

12.2.4 Candidates who are unable to achieve a milestone due to a change in personal circumstances (e.g. long-term illness, work commitments) that prevents them from continuing to work on their project should consider taking a leave of absence. Milestone and candidature extensions may not be approved on the basis of personal circumstances or work commitments.

12.2.5 International students must ensure that their visa conditions allow an extension to candidature and may not extend candidature beyond the CRICOS registered duration of their program. Applications for extension to candidature from international students are forwarded to USC International for advice regarding the student’s visa status before the extension can be approved.

12.2.6 Students on an externally funded scholarship are responsible for liaising with the funding provider for advice about extension to funding (if required).

13. Leave

Leave is categorised as two types. Unless a candidate has been awarded a stipend scholarship and under the conditions of the scholarship there is an entitlement for paid leave, both categories of leave are unpaid.

Table 0.3

Standard Leave

Leave which is included as consumed candidacy load and is approved by the supervision panel.

Leave of Absence

Leave that does not alter the consumed candidacy load and is approved by the supervision panel.
13.1 Standard Leave

13.1.1 Sick Leave

In the event of illness, candidates may take up to 10 days of sick leave each year with the approval of their principal supervisor. The leave is accrued throughout candidature. This leave is recorded and managed by the principal supervisor and is not reported to, or managed by, the Office of Research.

13.1.2 Recreation Leave

13.1.2.1 Full-time candidates are entitled to a maximum of 20 days per annum. Part-time candidates are entitled to a maximum of 10 days per annum.

13.1.2.2 Recreation leave is arranged by negotiation with the candidate’s principal supervisor. This leave is accrued throughout candidature. Recreation leave is recorded and managed by the principal supervisor and is not reported to or managed by the Office of Research.

13.2 Leave of Absence 

13.2.1 HDR candidates can apply for a leave of absence for a minimum period of 4 weeks up to a maximum period of 6 months. This leave is approved by the principal supervisor and is reported to and recorded by the Office of Research.

13.2.2 The total period of leave of absence accumulated in a given candidature will not normally exceed 12 calendar months. A total period in excess of 12 months may be approved by the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, in exceptional circumstances.

13.2.3 HDR candidates applying for parental leave can apply for a maximum period of 12 months for each instance of parental leave. Parental leave is approved by the principal supervisor and is reported to and recorded by the Office of Research.

13.2.4 Absence of leave during the probationary candidature period and the 3 months prior to the thesis submission milestone date will only be approved by the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, in exceptional circumstances.

13.2.5 Any absence of leave will be reflected in a variation to subsequent milestone due dates and the end date of candidature.

13.2.6 Requests for a leave of absence must be submitted to the Office of Research at least 3 weeks prior to the first day of the leave.

13.2.7 Retrospective applications will only be approved in exceptional circumstances and only for medical leave and requires approval by the Research Degrees Committee, or the Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee. Leave requests related to ill health must be submitted within 10 days of returning from leave.

13.2.8 Leave beyond 6 months will only be considered if it relates to ill health, significant caring commitments or exceptional circumstances. Approval of leave beyond 6 months requires approval by the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee.

13.2.9 Leave requested on medical grounds must be accompanied by a medical certificate.

13.2.10 Requests for parental leave must be accompanied by a medical certificate or an appropriate document containing proof of birth or adoption.

13.2.11 HDR candidates must inform the Office of Research of their return from leave date at least 2 weeks prior to their original return date.

13.2.12 HDR candidates who wish to extend their leave must submit an additional leave request at least 2 weeks prior to their original return date.

13.2.13 Failure to advise a return from approved leave or to extend an approved leave may result in the candidate being considered absent without leave, which may result in withdrawal from the program.

13.2.14 A candidate may not undertake research, study or creative work for the degree during a leave of absence.

13.2.15 Student Services and Engagement provides advice to candidates about implications of leave of absence on fee liability.

13.2.16 International candidates must ensure that their visa conditions allow a suspension of studies (leave of absence can only be approved for compassionate and compelling circumstances). Applications for leave of absence from international students must be accompanied by relevant supporting documentation (e.g. medical certificates). Applications for leave of absence will be forwarded to Student Services and Engagement for advice before they can be approved.

13.2.17 Candidates on scholarship should refer to their Schedule of Scholarship Conditions for advice about impacts of leave on their scholarship payments. International students on an externally funded scholarship are responsible for liaising with the funding provider for advice about extension to funding (if required).

13.2.18 Exemption from stipulated leave of absence procedures requires the approval of the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, and will only be considered for exceptional circumstances.

13.2.19 Leave of Absence Categories:

Table 0.4

(a) Medical leave

For periods of medical leave beyond the annual allowance of 10 business days. A leave application must be submitted within 10 business days after return from leave with a supporting medical certificate which covers the entire period of medical leave.

(b) Family leave

This leave is used for parental leave and carer’s leave. Candidates can take a continuous period of leave of up to 12 months for parental leave and up to 6 months for carer’s leave. A medical certificate must be provided in both situations.

(c) Employment

To be used to undertake work commitments. 6 month limit per leave request. Not available for student visa holders.

14. Plan and Progress Review (PPR)

14.1 Plan and Progress Review (PPR) is the mechanism by which candidates and their supervisors develop and monitor a tailored research training program to achieve the knowledge, skills and learning outcomes provided in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) for level 9 and 10 degrees.

14.2 A candidate’s HDR program will be planned in consultation with their supervision panel within the first two months of full-time equivalent candidature. After this initial plan development, candidates are required to undertake the planning and review process every 6 months for international candidates and every 12 months for domestic candidates. The Dean, Graduate Studies is the authority for approving the plan and progress review.

The initial plan will include:

(a) a comprehensive research project plan, including a project budget, and

(b) a progress plan that identifies the key project activities, research training skills development, a plan to achieve conditions of candidature, a publication plan and a supervision panel/student meeting schedule.

14.3 In reviewing a candidate’s progress, the candidate and their principal supervisor will:

(a) review progress made towards the goals set in the previous plan and progress review document

(b) update goals to reflect changes in the research project

(c) discuss any gaps in the candidate’s research skills or knowledge and identify training requirements

(d) consider whether the candidate is on track to achieve their next candidature milestone and identify any support or resources required.

(e) recommend an outcome of the progress plan and review from the below table

Table 0.4

PPR Outcome

Actions

Exceeds Expectations

Academic progress is satisfactory and the candidate is on track to submit subsequent milestones including thesis submission prior to scheduled milestone due dates.

Meets Expectations

Academic progress is satisfactory and the candidate is on track to meet subsequent milestones including thesis submission, by scheduled milestone due dates.

Needs improvement

Academic progress does not meet expectations at this time and remedial actions are required. The candidate must undertake research and research training activities as specified by the supervision panel and approved by the Dean, Graduate Studies. A follow up PPR must be submitted within 3 months to document remedial actions undertaken. A student has a maximum of 6 months from the initial Needs improvement outcome, to achieve an outcome of Meets Expectations, otherwise progress is deemed Unsatisfactory.

Unsatisfactory

The candidate will be invited to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated. Refer to section 21 for information on Response to Show Cause.

Absent without Leave

The candidate has failed to contact or respond to their supervision panel for a period of 1 month or as per the meeting schedule outlined in their latest Plan and Progress Review document. A candidate considered to be Absent without Leave will be invited to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated.

15. Confirmation of candidature

This section should be read in conjunction with the ‘Higher Degrees by Research Confirmation of Candidature – Guidelines’.

15.1 Candidates are considered “probationary candidates” until they are approved as “confirmed candidates” via the confirmation of candidature process.

15.2 Candidates are eligible to undertake the confirmation process within the following timeframes.

Table 0.5

Full-time Part-time

Doctoral candidates

3-12 months from date of enrolment 6-24 months date of enrolment

Master candidates

3-9 months from date of enrolment 6-18 months date of enrolment

15.2.1 Candidates must ensure they begin the confirmation process at a date that allows them to complete the confirmation process by the confirmation milestone date.

15.3 Candidates are required to complete the confirmation process by the following timelines.

Table 0.6

Full-time Part-time

Doctoral candidates

12 months from date of enrolment 24 months date of enrolment

Master candidates

9 months from date of enrolment 18 months date of enrolment

15.4 A candidate may apply for confirmation prior to the confirmation timeframe with the approval of their Principal Supervisor.

15.5 The purpose of this milestone is to ensure that:

  • The candidate receives appropriate feedback in relation to the viability and progress of the research project,
  • The candidate has sufficient training and that there are resources available to complete the program within the recommended timeframes, and
  • Composition of the supervision panel is appropriate.

The candidate is required to prepare a written research proposal for assessment by a review panel. The Principal Supervisor is required to apply text matching software to the candidate’s research proposal prior to submission or confirmation of candidature.

15.6 The review panel includes at least one independent assessor (internal or external) nominated by the principal supervisor and approved by the Head of School or Head of School delegate, who meet requirements for thesis examiners as described in the Thesis Submission and Examination – Procedures, the candidate’s supervision panel and the Head of School or Head of School delegate. The independent assessor reviews the research proposal and then provides feedback and a recommendation of outcome as detailed in table 0.7 below, which will inform the decision of the review panel.

15.7 The candidate is also required to present their research proposal to the review panel. This may be done in person or by video conferencing.

15.8 A probationary candidate must be approved as a confirmed candidate by the Head of School or Head of School delegate before they can proceed with their Higher Degree by Research program.

15.9 The review panel will provide feedback to the candidate on their research proposal as part of the confirmation process. The Head of School or Head of School delegate will determine the outcome as one of the following:

Table 0.7

Outcome Actions

(a)

Exceeds Expectations Candidature is confirmed, with the supervision arrangements confirmed and the thesis title approved. Academic progress is satisfactory, and the candidate is on track to submit subsequent milestones including thesis submission prior to scheduled milestone due dates Where judged to be appropriate, a probationary Masters candidate may be offered the opportunity to be admitted as a confirmed candidate to one of the university’s research Doctoral degrees.

(b)

Meets Expectations Candidature is confirmed, with the supervision arrangements confirmed and the thesis title approved. Academic progress is satisfactory, and the candidate is on track to meet subsequent milestones including thesis submission, by scheduled milestone due dates. Minor revisions may be required and must be completed within one month of the confirmation seminar to the satisfaction of the review panel.

(c)

Needs Improvement Candidature is not confirmed. The candidate is required to continue enrolment as a probationary candidate to revise the research proposal and where applicable, to undertake further research work in accordance with the detailed feedback provided by the review panel. The candidate has 3 months to complete revisions to the satisfaction of the review panel. If the candidate does not complete the confirmation process within the 3 month revisions period or if the further work is not completed to the satisfaction of the review panel, the candidate will receive a confirmation outcome of Unsatisfactory.

(d)

Unsatisfactory Where a candidate’s application for progression to confirmed candidature is assessed Unsatisfactory, the Head of School or Head of School delegate will determine whether to:   (i) where judged to be appropriate, a probationary doctoral candidate may be offered the opportunity to be admitted as a confirmed candidate to one of the university’s research Master degrees; or   (ii) invite the candidate to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated. Refer to section 21 for information on Response to Show Cause.

The school submits the confirmation paperwork to the Office of Research for quality assurance and retention on the candidate’s student file. The Office of Research communicates the final outcome of the confirmation process to the candidate.

16. Candidature at external locations

16.1 A candidate proposing to undertake all or part of their research, study or creative work at a location external to this university must seek the approval of the Head of School. On the recommendation of the principal supervisor, the relevant Head of School may approve a candidate’s request to pursue part of their program of research, study or creative work away from the university and will provide advice to the candidate, copied to the Office of Research for retention on the relevant student file for insurance

purposes.

16.2 Where the research, study or creative work requires the resources or facilities of an external organisation, the candidate’s access to such resources or facilities must be documented in written correspondence to the satisfaction of the Head of School.

16.3 In approving candidature wholly or partly at an external location, the Head of School will appoint a consultant supervisor from the relevant organisation and may specify a minimum period during which the candidate must attend this university.

17. Transfer between Doctoral and Research Master degrees

17.1 Student Services and Engagement provides advice to candidates about implications of transfer between Doctoral and Research Master degrees on fee liability. International students on a student visa must ensure they maintain their student visa conditions.

17.2 Where a candidate has not yet progressed to confirmed candidature, the confirmation and program transfer processes can be considered simultaneously.

17.3 A confirmed candidate must present a research proposal for confirmed candidature of the length and standard that would be expected for the proposed degree. The candidate includes their request to change program on their confirmation documentation and the application to transfer program is considered as part of the confirmation process.

17.4 The Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee may approve:

17.4.1 an application to convert a confirmed master candidature to a doctoral candidature. The period completed as a master candidate will be deducted from the candidature duration for the purpose of determining the minimum and maximum length of the doctoral candidature.

17.4.2 an application to convert a doctoral candidature to a candidature in a research master program. The period completed as a doctoral candidate will be deducted from the candidature duration for the purpose of determining the minimum and maximum length of the master candidature.

18. Change of research topic and or thesis title

18.1 If, following confirmation of candidature, a candidate wishes to change the topic of their research work to any significant extent, the candidate must submit an application to the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, via the principal supervisor, who must support the application for a change of research topic. In making a decision to change the candidate’s research topic, the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee will also determine whether the candidate is to be returned to probationary status and to undergo a standard or modified process for confirmation of candidature and must determine any adjustment to the maximum thesis submission date. Where the change of research topic has been substantially addressed in conjunction with the initial confirmation process, the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, may determine that the change of research topic be approved without a change to the candidate’s confirmation status or maximum thesis submission date.

18.2 With the approval of the principal supervisor, a candidate may change the title of their thesis from the title approved when their candidature was confirmed. Providing that the change of thesis title is not indicative of a significant change in the research topic, a change of thesis title does not require the approval of the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee.

19. HDR Publication

19.1 If any component of a candidate’s research has not been published after completion of the HDR, the supervisor(s) may publish the research, provided appropriate authorship is attributed to the candidate, subject to a documented agreement to transfer any intellectual property from the candidate to the university. This does not apply in the case of Creative Works, such as literary works, artworks, audio-visual presentations or performance rights. Candidates are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before signing an agreement to assign their intellectual property to the university. Supervisors and students are required to follow all relevant USC Policies and Procedures including the Intellectual Property: Student IP – Procedures and the Authorship and Dissemination of Research Findings – Procedures.

20. Withdrawal from candidature

20.1 A candidate may withdraw from candidature by informing the Office of Research using the appropriate form.

20.2 The withdrawal will take effect from the date of receipt of such notification.

21. Response to an invitation to show cause

21.1 A student who is invited to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated should prepare a written response as described in Stage 2 of the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures. A response to a request to show cause why candidature should not be terminated may include (but is not limited to):

(a) an updated plan and progress review document with revised goals and evidence of research training undertaken,

(b) a statement summarising obstacles to progress, and the candidate’s recommendation for a path forward

(c) medical certificates (if applicable).

21.2 Candidates are encouraged to seek advice from academic skills advisors available via Student Services and Engagement (Student Central), to discuss their situation and to develop their response. Candidates may also seek counselling from Student Wellbeing, advice on the processes from the Student Ombudsman, and/or assistance from the Student Guild.

21.3 The Head of School considers the representations of the candidate in response to the show cause request and determines whether to:

(a) Continue candidature, with any subsequent conditions; or

(b) Recommend termination of candidature to the Dean, Graduate Studies.

21.4 All completed documentation is sent to the Office of Research for quality assurance and will report all outcomes of invitations to show cause to the Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee, as part of regular candidature progression reporting.

21.5 In the case of international students on a student visa, the university is obliged to advise students that termination of their candidature will result in them being reported to the relevant Government departments for unsatisfactory progress and may result in the cancellation of their student visa, unless they can demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances. The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (the ‘National Code’) requires that when the university notifies a student of its intention to report the student for not achieving satisfactory academic progress, the student must also be informed that they are able to access the university’s ‘complaints and appeals process’ and have 20 business days in which to do so. Responding to the show cause is deemed to be accessing this process, as per Stage 2 of the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy.

22. Termination of candidature

22.1 The Dean, Graduate Studies considers the representations of the candidate in response to the show cause request together with the recommendation to terminate candidature made by the Head of School. The Dean, Graduate Studies may terminate candidature if:

(a) the student has failed to:

  • respond to the invitation to show cause within the specified timeframe; or
  • make satisfactory progress or meet any candidature requirements; or
  • comply with any other condition imposed by their Head of School or Research Degrees Committee, or Chairperson acting on behalf of the committee; and

(b) the principal supervisor and the Head of School or Head of School delegate have ensured and demonstrated that the student has been:

  • clearly warned of shortcomings in performing the research and/or in meeting candidature requirements; and
  • advised of ways in which such shortcomings might be remedied.

22.2 The Dean, Graduate Studies will determine whether to:

(a) permit the student to continue under specified conditions; or

(b) terminate the candidature.

22.2.1 A Doctoral student may be offered the opportunity to be admitted to one of the university’s research Master degrees.

22.3 The Dean, Graduate Studies will provide advice to the student and the relevant Head of School within 5 business days of the determination.

22.4 A student whose candidature is terminated may lodge an internal appeal under Stage 3 of the Student Grievance Resolution - Governing Policy, via the Student Review and Appeals – Procedures, where they can show grounds as to why an appeal should be considered (i.e. new information, evidence of failure of process). Appeals must be lodged within 10 business days of the notice of the Dean, Graduate Studies’ determination.

22.5 The student’s enrolment will cease at the end of the appeal period or if an appeal is lodged, when the outcome of their appeal is determined.

23. Grievances

Refer to the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy and associated Procedures.

23.1 Candidates experiencing difficulty with any aspect of their enrolment or program of study should discuss the problems with their principal supervisor or a co-supervisor in the first instance.

23.2 Where the issue cannot be resolved at the supervisor level, or where the candidate does not wish to discuss the matter with their supervisors (e.g. in the event of a breakdown in the supervisory relationship), the matter should be brought to the relevant Head of School for resolution.

23.3 A candidate who has a grievance concerning any action or decision of a supervisor, or any other member of staff, and is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution through informal discussions and conciliation, as described in 23.1-23.2, may lodge a formal grievance under the Student Grievance Resolution – Governing Policy and associated procedures.

23.4 Candidates will be invited to provide anonymous feedback each year via the annual HDR Candidate survey.

Appendix 1

HDR Roles and Responsibilities

END

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