Effective 1 January 2017.
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.
Students may be offered one or more of the following RTP Scholarships:
- RTP Stipend which is provided to assist students with living expenses while undertaking an HDR
- RTP Tuition Fees Offset which is provided to satisfy liability for HDR tuition fees
- RTP Allowance which is provided to assist with ancillary costs
2. How to apply
2.1 Applications for RTP 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 can be accessed from the USC website on the Applying for a Research Training Program Scholarship web page.
2.3 International HDR applicants applying for a RTP Stipend Scholarship will automatically be considered for a RTP Tuition Fees Offset Scholarship. All Domestic HDR applicants will automatically be considered for a RTP Fees Offset Scholarship as part of the admission process.
2.4 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 31/12/2016 will automatically be offered a 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.
2.5 Selected recipients will receive a letter of offer describing their RTP Scholarship inclusions. Selected recipients must accept their RTP Scholarship offer within one month of the date of offer. A RTP Scholarship may be offered to the next meritorious applicant where an offer has not been accepted by the due date.
2.6 All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application as soon as possible after the selection process is complete.
3. Eligibility criteria
3.1 Prior to applying for a RTP Scholarship, applicants must first have been accepted to enrol in a HDR program at USC.
3.2 To be eligible to receive a 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 RTP 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.
3.3 To be eligible to receive a RTP Fees Offset Scholarship, a student must not be receiving an equivalent award or scholarship from the Commonwealth designed to offset HDR fees.
3.4 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 is 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
5.1 The standard duration of a RTP 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 RTP 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 their candidature in a Research Master’s program and who, before the maximum standard duration of their program, upgrades to a Doctoral program, may hold the award for a total of up to three years full-time equivalent. Please see Section 13 for more information on Changing programs.
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 RTP Scholarship will be increased by periods of paid leave beyond base leave. Please see Section 9 for more information on leave entitlements.
5.6 The duration of a RTP 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 RTP Scholarship recipients may be granted an extension of up to six months where the candidate 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. Please see the Higher Degree by Research Candidature – Procedures for information on applying for an extension.
5.8 In exceptional circumstances and where funding allows, RTP Scholarship recipients who are enrolled in a doctoral program 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 RTP Scholarships may commence anytime throughout the calendar year of award. Awards cannot be deferred to the following year under any circumstances.
6.2 For new students, stipends will commence as of the day of HDR commencement and are paid on a fortnightly basis.
7. Tuition Fee Offset
7.1 A RTP Fee Offset scholarship fully extinguishes the student’s tuition liability for the year in which is it awarded.
7.2 Eligible Domestic HDR candidates are automatically awarded a RTP Fee Offset Scholarship and do not need to apply.
7.3 International HDR candidates awarded a RTP Stipend are automatically awarded a RTP Fee Offset Scholarship and do not need to apply separately.
7.4 International HDR candidates who are not awarded a RTP Stipend may be awarded a RTP Fee Offset by the competitive process set out in the Postgraduate Research Scholarship - Procedures.
8. Stipend Rate & Allowance
8.1 The RTP Stipend rate for a full-time candidate in 2018 is $27,082. The base full-time RTP Stipend rate for any subsequent year is the same as the preceding year, indexed in accordance with the method referred to in the Commonwealth Scholarship Guidelines (Research) 2017.
8.2 The RTP Stipend rate for a part-time student is 50% of the corresponding rate for a full-time student and is not tax-free.
8.3 Stipend payments are made to the candidate on a fortnightly basis directly to their nominated Australian bank account.
8.4 A RTP Stipend 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:
Where a student must travel a distance greater than 100km to the Sunshine Coast to commence a Higher Degree by Research on a Research Training Program Scholarship:
a) Removal expenses (excluding travel)
b)Travel expenses (one way)
i) air travel expenses up to a maximum amount equivalent to an economy or student concession airfare, whichever is the lowest amount
ii) 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
8.4.2 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 costs 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.
8.4.3 Publication or Thesis Printing
A 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. Holders of RTP Scholarships, supervisors and other parties who produce materials such as books, articles, newsletters or other literary or artistic works based on the research project carried out by the holder of the RTP Scholarship should acknowledge the Commonwealth’s contribution.
9. Leave/Suspension of Entitlements
9.1 Base Leave - RTP Scholarship recipients receive 20 working days 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 formally apply to the University for base leave, but should take base leave as agreed with their Principal Supervisor.
9.2 Suspension of studies - RTP Scholarship recipients who are temporarily unable to continue their studies must apply to the Office of Research at least 14 days 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. 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. International students on a student visa must ensure they maintain their student visa conditions.
9.3 Sick Leave - RTP recipients are entitled to additional paid sick leave of up to 60 days if the candidate is subject to medically substantiated periods of illness lasting longer than the available base leave. The University will extend the award to compensate for periods of sick leave beyond the base sick leave. 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. Sick leave entitlements (base and additional sick leave) may also be used to cover leave for candidates with family caring responsibilities. International students on a student visa must ensure they maintain their student visa conditions.
9.4 Maternity Leave - 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. 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. The University will extend the award to compensate for an approved period of maternity leave. Additional unpaid maternity leave may be taken through a leave of absence. RTP Scholarship holders who have not completed twelve months of their award may access unpaid maternity leave through the suspension provisions. International students on a student visa must ensure they maintain their student visa conditions.
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.
RTP Stipend Scholarships may be available for the duration of industry placements, research internships and professional practice activities if:
10.1.1 the student already holds a RTP stipend;
10.1.2 there is no other income associated with these activities;
10.1.3 the maximum duration of the academic program has not been reached; and
10.1.4 the thesis examination process has not yet been finalised.
Students undertaking a placement, internship, or professional practice are not eligible to have their RTP stipend scholarship extended beyond the maximum period of RTP support.
11. Research Topic
11.1 The University may approve a request from a candidate to change their research topic, provided the proposed change remains aligned with one of USC’s areas of research concentration. When 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
12.1 As per the Higher Degree by Research Candidature - Procedures, Domestic candidates may change their study mode at any time with the approval of their Principal Supervisor. If a change from full-time to part-time, or part-time to full-time, is approved the remaining period of support will be adjusted. International students on a student visa must ensure they maintain their student visa conditions.
13. Transfer of program
13.1 The University may approve a request from a 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. The process to convert from a Research Masters to a Research Doctorate degree, or from a Research Doctorate to a Research Masters degree is outlined in the Higher Degree by Research Candidature – Procedures.
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 RTP 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. Student Resources
15.1 The following resources are made available to all on-campus HDR candidates:
Workspace – on campus candidates will be provided with a desk, chair, shelving space, and locker or lockable cabinet by their Faculty of enrolment (upon application and subject to availability).
Computing facilities – on campus candidates will have access to USC computer labs and may request a dedicated computer from their Faculty of enrolment (subject to availability). Candidates will have access to IT support.
General facilities – on campus candidates will have access to mail and print services.
Library including Inter library Loans – candidates will have access to USC library, Inter library loans, and support from USC librarians
Financial Support – Candidates will have access (upon approval of application) to standard level of funding to support their research project and training. This funding is provided by the candidate’s Faculty of enrolment.
Skills Training – candidates have access to a range of free research training workshops
16. Transferring to or from another HEP
16.1 Candidates who are receiving a RTP Scholarship may transfer to another Higher Education Provider (HEP). Upon request, USC will provide information on the candidate’s RTP Scholarship if required by the new HEP. Being in receipt of a RTP Scholarship at USC does not entitle a candidate to a RTP Scholarship at any other HEP.
16.2 USC will not take over the payment of an RTP scholarship awarded to a candidate by another University, where the candidate transfers to USC. The transferring candidate may apply for an RTP Scholarship at USC at the next available opportunity and will be considered on the basis of the USC selection criteria and in relation to other applicants To apply, candidates find instructions on the Applying for a Research Training Program Scholarship webpage.
17. Termination of scholarship
17.1 USC must terminate a Research Training Program Scholarship under the following circumstances:
17.1.1 At the end of the period for which it was granted,
17.1.2 If the candidate fails to maintain satisfactory progress,
17.1.3 If the candidate changes their research topic without approval from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation);
17.1.4 Upon completion of the program,
17.1.5 The submission of the thesis, (a RTP Scholarship will not resume if revision is required following examination)
17.1.6 The death, incapacity, resignation or withdrawal of the candidate,
17.1.7 The candidate ceases to be enrolled full-time, without approval being obtained for the candidate to hold the award on a part-time basis,
17.1.8 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,
17.1.9 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,
17.1.10 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, or
17.1.11 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.
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.
17.2 If a RTP Scholarship is terminated, it cannot be re-activated unless the termination occurred in error.
17.3 A RTP Scholarship recipient may appeal a decision regarding the termination of their scholarship in accordance with the Postgraduate Research Scholarship – Procedures.
18. Specific candidate obligations
18.1 The relevant policies which govern the scholarship recipient’s degree outline the responsibilities of the University, faculties, supervisors and candidates and it is the candidate’s responsibility to be familiar with these policies.
18.2 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to apply themselves diligently and to the best of their ability to the successful completion of the degree.
18.3 All HDR candidates shall abide by all relevant legislation on human and animal experimentation and rulings of the ethics committees of the University.
18.4 All HDR candidates are required to conform to the regulations, policies (including disciplinary provisions) of the University.
18.5 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.
18.6 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.
18.7 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.
18.8 RTP Scholarship recipients must include an acknowledgement when, at any time during or after completion of a HDR, the recipient, 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. USC recommends: I hereby acknowledge that this research has been supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
18.9 These Conditions are subject to 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.
19. Specific obligations of the University of the Sunshine Coast
19.1 Ensure compliance with the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017, including but not limited to:
19.1.1 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 extensions; and
19.1.2 Award RTP Stipend Scholarships only as a result of a publicly available competitive process;
19.1.3 Award RTP Fee Offset Scholarships to international students only as a result of a publicly available competitive process; and
19.1.4 Offer a 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; and
19.1.5 Advise a student receiving and RTP Scholarship of any changes to their RTP Scholarship support.
The University reserves the right to make changes at short notice after publication. RTP Scholarship recipients will be notified in writing to their USC student email address of any changes. To ascertain if any changes have been made to this document after receipt, please contact the Office of Research
Last updated 04/06/2018