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Research Higher Degree Scholarship Policy - Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) This document outlines the specific Award conditions of research higher degree scholarships (RHDS) awarded to domestic higher degree research candidates.

(2) The aim of RHDS is to support and encourage highly qualified candidates to undertake research education at Western Sydney University.

(3) Complaint Handling and Resolution Policy and appeal procedures as approved by the Academic Senate may be applied to matters under this policy.

(4) This policy is to be read in conjunction with the Conditions of Award document signed by the Award holder and the University. The Conditions of Award document will include other specific conditions and provisions that apply to the particular Award.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(5) Definitions for the purpose of this policy:

  1. A Research Training Scheme candidate is a candidate funded under the Commonwealth Research Training Scheme that provides eligible higher degree research students with an entitlement to a HECS exemption for the duration of an accredited higher degree research course.
  2. The Dean is the Dean of a University School.
  3. The Director, Research Institute is the Director of a University Research Institute (Institute).
  4. The HDR Director is the relevant Director (e.g. Director, HDR or Director, Research and HDR) as determined by the Dean, or an equivalent role as determined by the Director, Research Institute.

(6) Award means the Scholarship named in the Conditions of Award document, eg Australian Postgraduate Award, University Postgraduate Research Award, Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry), and other University, grant or industry funded Awards.

(7) Candidate or "Award holder" means the person to whom the Award has been made.

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Section 3 - Policy Statement

Part A - Eligibility

(8) The Award Holder:

  1. must be enrolled as a full-time Candidate in a research higher degree upon commencement of their Award unless approval has been granted by the University for the allocation of a part-time Award.
  2. must be an Australian citizen, a New Zealand Citizen, or an Australian permanent resident upon commencement of the Award.
  3. must not already hold a degree at the same, or higher level as the proposed candidature.
  4. must not be receiving an equivalent Award, scholarship or salary providing a benefit greater than 75% of the Award stipend rate to undertake the proposed study. Income earned from sources unrelated to the course of study is not subject to the 75% rule.

(9) The University must monitor Candidates' ongoing eligibility to ensure that each Candidate continues to meet the eligibility requirements.

Part B - Part B - Tenure of the Award

Full Time Awards

(10) A Full-time Award may be held for three years for Doctoral studies, or two years for Masters studies. The duration of a part-time Award is six years for Doctoral studies and four years for Masters studies.

(11) The tenure of the Award will be reduced by any periods of study undertaken:

  1. towards the degree at any institution prior to the commencement of the Award.
  2. towards the degree during suspension of the Award.

(12) The duration of an Award will be increased by any periods of additional paid leave approved by the University.

(13) Where the Conditions of Award provide for an extension of the Award, the extension may be approved by the Research Studies Committee provided:

  1. the Candidate is making satisfactory progress.
  2. the grounds for the extension relate to circumstances which have delayed the study, are beyond the control of the Candidate and not of a personal nature.
  3. the circumstances that led to a delay will normally have been documented by the Candidate and Supervisor throughout the candidature by way of reporting milestones including Confirmation of Candidature and Annual Progress Reports. The Candidate should utilise milestone reporting to document all circumstances which may impact on their ability to complete the degree within the maximum tenure of the Award.

(14) No extensions are possible for Masters candidates.

(15) If a part-time Award is converted to a full-time Award then the period of time that the Candidate is regarded as having been in receipt of the part-time Award immediately prior to the conversion will be halved for the purpose of determining the duration the Candidate is regarded as having been in receipt of a full-time Award immediately after conversion.

(16) If a full-time Award is converted to a part-time Award then the period of time that the Candidate is regarded as having been in receipt of the full-time Award immediately prior to the conversion will be doubled for the purpose of determining the duration the Candidate is regarded as having been in receipt of a part-time Award immediately after conversion.

Part Time Awards

(17) The University may approve part-time tenure where a Candidate is able to demonstrate extenuating circumstances that relate to significant caring commitments or a medical condition which limits the Candidate's capacity to undertake full-time study.

(18) The University may approve part-time tenure if the Candidate is undertaking Commercialisation Training Scheme (CTS) training.

(19) Part-time Awards are not available to applicants seeking to undertake paid employment on a full-time, or on a substantial part-time basis, and part-time Award holders are subject to the same restrictions on employment as full-time Award holders.

(20) A part-time Award holder is expected to progress at half the rate of a full-time holder and extensions are possible for Doctoral Candidates. No extensions are possible for Masters Candidates. The time limits for receipt of a part-time Award are double those for a full-time Award.

(21) Award holders approved to study part-time may revert to full-time study at any time with the permission of the University. Stipends for part-time studies are not tax-exempt.

Changing between Masters and Doctoral Studies

(22) Where a Candidate, during the course of the Masters degree, converts to a Doctorate, the University may also approve, on the recommendation of the Research Studies Committee, conversion of the Award to a Doctorate or vice versa. The maximum duration of a converted Award becomes that for the new candidature.

Suspension of Award

(23) If a Candidate is unable to pursue the degree they must notify the University and apply to have the Award suspended for up to twelve months. Suspensions are granted at the discretion of the University and on a per session basis. In exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of the University, candidates may apply for suspensions beyond twelve months. All requests for suspension must be made to the Research Studies Committee.

(24) Periods of study undertaken towards the degree during suspension of the Award must be deducted from the maximum period of its tenure. i.e. if a full-time Award holder suspends the Award for six months but enrols part-time during that period, three months will be deducted from the tenure of the Award.

(25) Before an Award can be restored after a period of suspension, the Award holder will be required to show that he/she is in a position to resume full-time study. Where the suspension was due to illness, a medical certificate certifying fitness must be produced. In all cases the Candidate must satisfy the supervisor that he/she is able to resume full time study.

(26) An Award holder may not suspend their Award to undertake other paid employment.

(27) If the Award holder does not resume study at the conclusion of a period of suspension, or does not make arrangements to extend that period of suspension, the Award will be terminated.

Part C - Termination

(28) The Award will normally cease two weeks after submission of the thesis. The University must terminate an Award:

  1. if, in the opinion of the University, the course of study is not being carried out with competence and diligence or in accordance with the offer of the Award, and no suitable alternative arrangements can be made for continuation of the postgraduate degree.
  2. if the University determines that a Candidate is guilty of serious misconduct, including, but not limited to the provision of false or misleading information.
  3. when the Candidate ceases to be a full-time Candidate and when approval has not been obtained to hold the Award on a part-time basis.
  4. on completion of the course of study.
  5. on the death, incapacity, resignation or withdrawal of the Candidate.
  6. if the Award holder does not resume study at the conclusion of a period of suspension, or does not make arrangements to extend that period of suspension.
  7. if the Award holder fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  8. if the Award holder accepts another equivalent Award, scholarship or bursary to undertake their research higher degree providing a benefit greater than 75% of the base Award stipend rate and the Award holder does not suspend the Award for the period of the concurrent Award.
  9. if the Candidate ceases to meet the eligibility criteria specified in their Conditions of Award other than during a period in which the Award has been suspended.
  10. if the Candidate fails to maintain their enrolment in the course.

(29) If an Award is terminated, it cannot be reactivated unless the termination occurred in error.

(30) An Award holder is required to give at least 14 days notice of intention to voluntarily relinquish the Award.

Provision of False Information

(31) If an Institution knows or has reason to believe that a Candidate in receipt of an Award has provided false or misleading information to the University in relation to the Award, the University must immediately:

  1. re-assess the Candidate's entitlement to the Award; and
  2. notify the relevant funding body of the suspected offence if the Award is funded by an external agency, e.g. the Department of Education.

Part D - Stipend and Allowances


(32) A full-time Award shall carry a tax-free stipend at the rate specified in the Conditions of Award.

(33) A part-time Award shall carry a stipend at the rate specified in the Conditions of Award. Part-time stipends are not exempt from income tax.

(34) Award holders are permitted to:

  1. obtain funds for fieldwork, equipment or other expenses not covered by the Award.
  2. obtain funding for overseas travel costs from other Australian Government Awards or any other source.
  3. receive minor Awards, allowances or other earnings which are supplementary to the Award, or income derived from part-time work undertaken within the guidelines at Clause 39.

Research Training Scheme (RTS) Funding

(35) Award holders commencing their course are given priority for allocations of funded places.

Centrelink Benefits

(36) Award holders with dependent children may be eligible for benefits from Centrelink. Award holders should contact that department (without delay, as benefits are not payable retrospectively) for details of this and other programs for which they may be eligible, such as Rent Assistance, Guardian Allowance or Health Care Cards.

Part E - Leave Entitlements

Recreation Leave

(37) Award holders will receive up to 20 days (four weeks) paid recreation leave for each year of the Award and this may be accrued over the life of the Award. Any unused leave remaining on termination or completion will be forfeited by the Candidate. The supervisor's agreement must be obtained before leave is taken.

Sick Leave

(38) Award holders may take up to 10 days paid sick leave per year of the Award and this may be accrued over the tenure of the Award.

  1. Sick leave entitlements may also be used to cover leave for candidates with family caring responsibilities.

Part F - Employment

(39) Award holders should view their candidature as their main occupation and focus of their financial income. A Candidate is only permitted to undertake a strictly limited amount of paid employment:

  1. During standard work hours (9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday); 8 hours per week. Work may be averaged over the calendar year.
  2. During other hours; as many hours per week or year as desired providing it does not prevent satisfactory progress.
  3. Notwithstanding Clause 39 (a) Candidates should endeavour to avoid undertaking large blocks of paid employment during their candidature.
  4. Work undertaken must not interfere with an Award holder's study program.
  5. Teaching work should include preparation, administration and marking time in the total number of hours.

Research Overseas

(40) The University may approve candidates conducting up to 12 months (18 months for special cases) of their research outside Australia and to continue to hold the Award whilst overseas. Approval will only be granted if the research is essential for completion of the degree.

(41) The University will only approve overseas research if there is adequate supervision, the Candidate remains enrolled and the work can be credited to the candidate's course. The Candidate must return to Australia to complete the research program immediately following the completion of the overseas study.

(42) Applications for overseas research should be addressed to the HDR Director. Applications should be made at least three months before the proposed date of departure and Award holders must not leave Australia before approval is given. Unauthorised absence from Australia may result in the termination of an Award. It should also be noted that, if approval is given for a specific period of absence abroad and for any reason the dates are altered, or if an Award holder returns from a period abroad and intends to proceed to a subsequent period abroad, fresh approval must be sought.

Part G - Research at Other Institutions

(43) The University may approve a Candidate conducting substantial amounts of the research at organisations outside the higher education system. In such cases the University is still responsible for the Candidate and must sure adequate support, supervision, training and research freedom for the Candidate.

Part H - The University's Obligations

(44) Oversight of postgraduate research degrees will be in accordance with a code of supervision and other policies, rules and procedures approved by the University's Research Studies Committee.


(45) The University will be fair and equitable in the use of its discretionary powers.

(46) The University will pay the Candidate all entitlements under the Award.

Part I - Award Holder Obligations

(47) An Award holder must advise the University within fourteen days in writing if he/she:

  1. leaves Australia for reasons other than approved overseas study, approved suspension or approved recreation leave.
  2. discontinues full-time study.
  3. is absent from full-time study for a period of fourteen days or longer without prior approval.
  4. is granted another scholarship from the Australian Government or its statutory authorities, or other industry support in the form of a scholarship of equal value.

(48) Candidates must:

  1. diligently and to the best of their ability apply themselves to the successful completion of the degree.
  2. abide by the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, guidelines established by the Australian Government's Office of Gene Technology regulator, and rulings of the Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Animal Care and Ethics Committee, Biosafety and Radiation Safety Committee and Human Research Ethics Committee of the University.
  3. submit regular progress reports as required by the University. The University will terminate the Award of Candidates who fail to maintain satisfactory progress.
  4. an Award holder is required to conform to the regulations (including disciplinary provisions) of the University.

(49) Award holders may not engage in any academic course of study leading to a qualification that is not an essential part of their research program.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(50) Nil.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(51) Nil.