HDR Candidature Management
- HDR Candidature Management Policy
- HDR Candidature Management Procedure
- HDR Theses and Examinations Policy
- HDR Theses and Examinations Procedure
- Printable PDF Version
- Legislative Context
- Policy Statement
- Supporting Documents
- Records Management
The purpose of this Policy is to outline the expectations and responsibilities of University staff and Higher Degree by Research candidates during the period of candidature. The policy stipulates the compulsory milestones of candidature and provides guidance regarding candidature matters, including the management of leave and candidate grievances.
This Policy applies to all Higher Degree by Research (HDR):
- enrolled candidates;
- persons with supervisory responsibilities or administrative responsibilities for Higher Degree by Research candidates;
- candidature management.
|Academic Employee||Any staff member employed by FedUni to undertake academic activity, including permanent, fixed-term contract, casual, honorary and adjunct appointments.|
|Annual Progress Report (APR)||A formal procedure whereby research progress is considered by the candidate, supervisor and School of enrolment, administered by the Graduate Research School.|
|Approved submission date||The approved date by which a candidate must submit their thesis.|
|ADR||Associate Dean Research|
|Candidate||Student enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research program.|
|Candidate / Supervisor agreement||Formal written agreement between the supervisor and candidate outlining meeting frequency and methods, expertise provision and other candidature matters.|
|Confirmation of Candidature||Milestone by which a candidate confirms that their research project is viable and is approved to continue.|
|Deferment||A period of up to 12 months where a student requests to delay enrolment in an offered course.|
|DGS||Dean of Graduate Studies – FedUni staff member responsible for: academic oversight of HDR programs, HDR candidates and HDR supervision. The DGS is assisted in this role by the ADRs.|
|EFTSL||Estimated full time study load.|
|Enrolment||The process by which a person, having received a written offer of a place, registers their program and course of study with FedUni by submitting a form of enrolment signed by both the applicant and the course coordinator or person of equivalent authority.|
|ESOS Act||Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000, as amended from time to time.|
|External Candidate||Where a candidate conducts their research from an approved external location, such as a laboratory, and an agreement exists between the location and FedUni.|
|FedUni||Federation University Australia|
|Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Program||One of the following courses of study: Masters Degree (Research), Doctoral Degree (Research), Doctoral Degree (Professional).|
|Higher Degree by Research candidate||A student enrolled in a Higher Degree by Research Program at FedUni.|
|Graduate Research School (GRS)||Central department of the University with oversight of matters pertaining to higher degree by research.|
|Leave from studies||Period of either six or 12 months, covering a normal teaching period(s), where an enrolled student is excused from formal study.|
|Off-campus candidate||Where a candidate studies at a location other than on campus or an approved external facility.|
|Probationary candidate||A FedUni student enrolled in a Masters Degree (Research), Doctoral Degree (Research), or Doctoral degree (Professional) who has not yet completed the confirmation of candidature process.|
|RHDC||Research Higher Degrees Committee – A standing committee of Academic Board that deals with matters pertaining to Higher Degree by Research|
|RTP||Research Training Program: Federal Government funding scheme that enables the provision of HDR fee offset and stipend scholarships.|
|School (School of enrolment)||Academic unit at Federation University in which candidates are enrolled|
|Skills Development Program (SDP)||A series of seminars and workshops provided by the Graduate Research School.|
|Stipend||A fortnightly scholarship paid to a candidate to cover living expenses|
|Supervisory PanelSupervisor – Associate Supervisor (AS)||A panel consisting of at least two members (including the Principal Supervisor and at least one associate supervisor) which oversees the planning and execution of the project and preparation and submission of the thesis.A staff member of FedUni who meets the requirements of and has been approved for inclusion on the Register of Supervisors as a supervisor and provides support to a candidate and to the Principal Supervisor.|
|Supervisor – Co-supervisor||An individual who is external to FedUni who meets the requirements of and has been approved for inclusion on the Register of Supervisors as a supervisor and provides support to a candidate and to the Principal Supervisor.|
|Supervisor - Principal Supervisor (PS)||A staff member of FedUni who meets the requirements of and has been approved for inclusion on the Register of Supervisors as a Principal Supervisor and has primary oversight of a HDR candidate’s research.|
|Supervisor - Provisional Principal (PP)||A staff member who does not meet the requirements to be listed as a Principal Supervisor on the Register of Supervisors but has the support of their School to act as a Principal Supervisor under the guidance of a mentor who is registered as a Principal Supervisor.|
|Timely completion||Submission of a thesis by the approved submission date with the maximum period of candidature (four years for PhD candidates or part time equivalent, two years for a masters by research candidate or part time equivalent)|
The acceptance of a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidate by a School indicates that the School has the required finances, space and supervision to support the candidate through to timely completion.
The support provided by the School will be supplemented by the provision of University services including the Library, Information Technology Services, and Graduate Research School.
The minimum level of resources/services provided by Schools for all HDR candidates who are undertaking their program on-campus are listed below. Part-time candidates may be required to share some resources, where appropriate.
At a minimum, candidates should be provided with:
- a desk and chair located in a secure space,
- access to computer technology appropriate to the research needs of the topic,
- reasonable access to stationery, photocopying, telephone, internet and postal services,
- reasonable after-hours access to facilities, and
- any other resources identified as essential to a particular candidate’s research program (e.g. scientific and technical equipment, laboratory or studio facilities).
The School must provide the required financial support for the approved project, including costs such as:
- required computing software,
- field work, laboratory or studio requirements, and
Schools must advise candidates of the estimated amount of financial support they will receive and record this information on the HDR Candidate / Supervisor Agreement.
Schools may provide additional financial support within School guidelines, such as conference participation and editing / proofreading of theses.
Schools are responsible for the inclusion and integration of HDR candidates in to the academic environment of the School of enrolment. The School should ensure that candidates are:
- included in School-based research seminars/conferences,
- included in academic professional development opportunities where appropriate,
- encouraged to network and interact with University staff and any scholarly visitors, and
- provided with opportunities for social interaction (e.g. access to School staff room) with staff and other research candidates.
Where a School approves a candidate for off-campus or external candidature, the School will need to ensure that:
- the candidate has access to online seminars, School activities and other training and development opportunities,
- appropriate supervision is provided, including specifying the means and frequency of communication between the candidate and Principal Supervisor,
- processes are in place to support the candidate to prepare and undertake Confirmation of Candidature, where applicable,
- the candidate has access to resources/facilities appropriate for the research program,
- the candidate has email/internet access, and
- the candidate has access to at least the equivalent level of financial support as on-campus candidates.
All other conditions of candidature apply to all candidates, whether enrolled on campus or via off campus or external candidature.
The period of candidature is defined as:
- Three years full time or part time equivalent for PhD candidates, or
- 18 months full time or part time equivalent for Masters by Research candidates.
Candidates may apply for an extension to candidature, as per Section 4.2.
It is a requirement that HDR candidates re-enrol in their program each semester. A candidate will be regarded as having abandoned their program of study and their candidature will lapse under one or more of the following circumstances:
- failure to re-enrol, with no response to communication from the University,taking unapproved leave,
- failing to return from leave without having sought approval for additional leave, or
- failing to participate in a progress review and failing to respond to reasonable requests to do so.
Following a lapse of candidature, re-instatement is possible under certain circumstances. Applications for readmission of candidature must be endorsed by the Principal Supervisor and ADR of the School of enrolment and approved by the Dean Graduate Research School.
Candidates requesting to change to full-time / part-time candidature may apply to FedUni stating the reasons for the requested change. Applications for change to conditions of candidature must obtain the endorsement of the Principal Supervisor and the School’s Dean and the approval of RHDC. Candidates requesting a change from full-time to part-time candidature, who hold a stipend, may be required to relinquish the stipend. These candidates should refer to the HDR Scholarships Policy and the RTP Scholarship Policy.
In order to complete a HDR program within the period of candidature it is reasonable to expect full-time HDR candidates to spend an average of 37.6 hours per week on a regular basis over the life of the degree. The expectation for part-time study is at least 50% of the full-time load.
Paid employment commitments during the period of candidature will not be accepted as grounds for an extension of either candidature or scholarships.
Candidates may only enrol in another degree or diploma during their candidature where they have satisfactory progress and with the approval of their Principal Supervisor, ADR of the School of enrolment and RHDC. A detailed request must be made to RHDC via the School and include hours of enrolment in the proposed program and how the enrolment will affect their higher degree studies.
Milestones and candidature requirements associated with HDR candidature at FedUni include:
1. Research Induction and Orientation
2. Candidate / Supervisor Agreement
3. Prescribed sessions of the HDR Skills Development Program
4. Confirmation of candidature
5. Annual Reviews and interim progress reports
6. Project specific research-based milestones (various)
7. Ethics approval (where required)
Candidates must complete the prescribed HDR Orientation Seminar outlined in the HDR Skills Development Program (SDP). This will normally include an overview of policy, procedure and expectations and information on codes of conduct, integrity and ethics, intellectual property and other research related issues.
In addition, Schools are responsible for ensuring that candidates undertake;
1. the University Occupational Health and Safety Induction and
2. Local Induction as outlined in the Induction Policy and Procedure.
Candidates are also required to successfully complete the FedUni approved Research Integrity module prior to attempting confirmation.
Candidates and supervisors are required to complete and submit to the Graduate School, the Candidate / Supervisor Agreement within the first four weeks of candidature.
Candidates must complete prescribed sessions outlined in the HDR Skills Development Program in each year of candidature. Cases for recognition of prior learning and experience will be considered. Written cases must be provided to the Dean Graduate Research School or nominee. Compulsory modules to be complete prior to attempting confirmation are described in the Skills Development Program online resources. Requirements will be communicated to students during Orientation.
Admission to HDR candidature is on a probationary basis, and candidature must be confirmed as follows:
- PhD Candidates: within the first 12 months of full-time enrolment, or part time equivalent.
- Masters candidates: within the first 6 months of full-time enrolment, or part time equivalent.
- Masters by research candidates requesting to convert to PhD candidature must follow the requirements of PhD confirmation of candidature.
In order for candidature to be confirmed, the Candidate must demonstrate that a viable research program has been developed, satisfactory progress has been made, and the degree requirements can be completed within the approved candidature period; three years full time or part-time equivalent for PhD candidates and 1.5 years full time or part-time equivalent for Masters by Research candidates.
The probationary candidate is required to present their research proposal to a Confirmation Panel and submit a written report, prepared in line with the Confirmation of Candidature Guidelines. Presentations are normally no more than 25 minutes and the written proposal will be no more than 10000 words for PhD probationary candidates and 5000 words for Masters by Research probationary candidates, including the main text, explanatory footnotes and captions, and excluding references.Processes for confirmation requirements are available in the Higher Degree by Research Candidature Management Procedure and include satisfactory completion of prescribed sessions of the HDR Skills Development Program in the first year of candidature.
The confirmation panel should comprise of:
- the Associate Dean (Research) (Chair) or nominee,
- the Principal Supervisor,
- an academic staff member from FedUni with relevant disciplinary experience and knowledge,
- An academic/ discipline expert, from another University, and
- an industry partner, where appropriate.
The Principal Supervisor and Panel Chair should ensure that no conflict of interest exists between panel members and the candidate.
In projects conducted on sacred aboriginal sites, involving aboriginal artefacts or ceremonies, and First Nations peoples, a senior member of the local Aboriginal community should be invited to join the panel, as appropriate. This person may also be recognised as a discipline expert depending on the nature of the proposed research and their position within the indigenous community.
The Confirmation Panel will recommend to the RHDC one of the following outcomes:
- Confirmed subject to conditions – candidate must meet conditions within eight weeks to be confirmed,
- Confirmation deferred – the candidate will be required to attempt confirmation again within 12 weeks, or
- Not confirmed – the candidate will be required to ‘show cause’ as to why candidature should not be terminated.
WIn all outcomes the Panel will provide a written report via GRS outlining the reasons for its decision. When applicable the report will include details of what tasks will need to be completed with associated timelines. Only in exceptional circumstances will more than two attempts to gain confirmation of candidature be permitted. Where the recommendation is ‘Not confirmed’, Show cause proceedings, as per section 3.6, should be commenced.
The Confirmation Panel is responsible for providing feedback to the candidate on their research project and associated completion timeline.
All candidates are required to participate in the Annual Progress Report (APR) during each year of enrolment. A candidate will also be required to participate in an Interim Progress Report where they:
- hold an international student visa holders,
- are identified as ‘At Risk’ in previous progress reports,
- have consumed the maximum period of candidature, or
- are nominated by their supervisor or Dean of School.
When completing an Annual or an Interim Progress Report, candidates will be asked to report on:
- their research progress since their last report,
- their research work plan for the next 12 months, or to completion (whichever is sooner),
- a self assessment on issues that have impacted their progress, and
- other matters related to their research / supervision.
It is recommended that Candidates meet with their Principal Supervisor or supervisory team prior to completing the APR, however APR timelines must still be met. Candidates will also be provided with the opportunity to submit a Confidential Report.
Where a candidate is not enrolled or has submitted their thesis, they are not required to participate in progress reporting.
Candidates may submit a confidential report during the progress reporting cycle, or at any time via email. Confidential reports are not provided to, or discussed with, supervisors or other staff unless the candidate grants permission. Where a candidate submits a confidential report, it will be provided to the Dean of the School of enrolment and the Dean Graduate Research School, unless a conflict of interest exists. In such instances, the report will be provided to the DVC RI (or nominee).
The Principal Supervisor and Associate Dean Research must review Annual and Interim Progress Reports and recommend one of the following outcomes:
- Satisfactory progress: the candidate is making sufficient progress to complete their research program by the approved submission date.
- School action required: the candidate is making progress, however action is required on behalf of the School and candidate to ensure timely completion.
- At Risk: The candidate is at risk of not completing their program by the approved submission date or to the required standard, and intervention is required.
- Show cause: the candidate has not made sufficient progress and is required to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated.
Candidates who have been placed At Risk by their School of enrolment will be required to meet with their Principal Supervisor or supervision team to complete an intervention strategy. The strategy must set out the next six months of activity to ensure that the research project will be completed by the approved submission date. A copy of the intervention strategies must be provided to the Graduate Research School.
If a candidate is placed At Risk on two or more consecutive occasions, they may be asked to Show Cause.
A candidate may be required to show cause as to why their candidature should not be terminated in any of the following instances:
- two or more consecutive Annual Progress Reports indicate that they are At Risk,
- candidature is not confirmed at the end of the probationary period of enrolment,
- on recommendation of the Dean or nominee,
- failure to maintain adequate and regular contact with the University,
- failure to submit written reports on academic progress when requested ,
- reached the maximum period of candidature, or
- failure to meet the requirements of the Skills Development Program.
Candidates who are required to show cause will be notified in writing via email to their Federation University email and postal address. Details regarding the Show Cause process can be found in the Candidature Management Procedure.
Candidates are required to provide a written submission detailing why their candidature should not be terminated. Where a report is not provided by the candidate, candidature will be terminated. Applications for Leave from Studies will not be considered once a candidate has been identified as having to Show Cause.
A Show Cause Committee (SCC) convened by the Chair, RHDC will consider the candidate’s show cause submission and details of candidature, and make one of the following recommendations:
a) Candidate’s progress is satisfactory,
b) Candidate's enrolment for the degree is terminated, or
c) Candidate’s enrolment for the degree continues, with conditions.
The Chair of the SCC will formally advise the candidate of the decision and the process for appeal. via their Federation email address and postal address.
Schools and/or funding bodies may request that additional milestones must be met as a condition of candidature. Additional milestones must be documented (e.g. Letter of Offer of Admission to Candidature, Conditions of Candidature statement, student contract) and agreed to by the candidate and the Principal Supervisor and a copy must be provided to the Graduate Research School.
Research projects and practices must conform to accepted community standards and to the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy. Any research project involving human subjects must be approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee. Any teaching or research involving animals must be approved by the Animal Ethics Committee. Ethics applications must be submitted with the name of the supervisor as the principal researcher; however, candidates should be involved in preparing applications for approval. This may involve interaction with the appropriate ethics officer.
Where projects involve research involving human or animal subjects, data cannot be collected before formal ethics approval has been granted. Any data collected before such approval cannot be presented in the thesis or published under the University’s name. Ethics project approval codes are generally required to publish data.
The Student Evaluation of the Postgraduate Program (SEPP) is an evaluation by the candidate of the HDR program. All HDR candidates are encouraged to complete the SEPP; responses are anonymous. HDR candidates are invited to complete an evaluation annually until they submit their thesis/portfolio for examination.
Leave of absence entitlements do not extend scholarship or candidature periods. Candidates have access to the following leave of absence entitlements:
- Recreation Leave: 20 working days of recreation leave per year. This may be accrued and carried forward, but entitlements are forfeited on the cessation of the stipend. Taking recreation leave does not extend the period of candidature or scholarship entitlements.
- Sick Leave: up to 20 working days of sick leave per year. This may be accrued and carried forward but entitlements are forfeited on cessation of candidature.
Candidates may access leave entitlements as assigned to Academic and General Staff, with the exception of Leave without Pay and Long Service Leave. Entitlements include:
- Compassionate/Bereavement Leave
- Jury Service
- Domestic Violence Leave
Candidates should refer to the Human Resources website for further details.
A candidate may apply for Leave from Studies extending for at least one teaching period (six months) and up to one year. Leave from Studies periods pause candidature for the duration of the leave. The period of candidature is extended by the period of leave.
Where candidates have appropriate medical certificates, they may request Leave from Study for periods between four weeks and six months.
Applications for Leave from Studies by candidates who have not yet undertaken Confirmation of Candidature or whose progress is unsatisfactory will only be considered after a candidature management plan has been developed by the candidate and Principal Supervisor, and endorsed by the School’s Associate Dean Research and approved by the Dean Graduate Research School.
Taking leave of studies stops stipend payments for a designated period and may extend the period of stipend entitlement. Full leave entitlements are described in the Candidature Management Procedure.
Under exceptional circumstances, candidates can request an extension of up to six months, or part time equivalent, subject to the approval of the Dean Graduate Research School.
PhD Candidates may request a second extension to candidature beyond the periods of candidature where their HDR studies have been severely impacted by circumstances beyond their control. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to:
- Documented medical issues with substantial periods of leave,
- Unforeseen circumstances which impact the progress of a candidate’s research topic, e.g. natural disaster in a data collection area.
Requests for extension to candidature must be submitted at least four weeks prior to the approved submission date. Candidates who do not submit their thesis or request an extension to candidature prior to their approved submission date will be considered as having lapsed candidature and section 2.1 of this policy will apply.
Extensions to scholarships are considered separately from extensions to candidature. Extensions to scholarship, including fee scholarships are described in the HDR Scholarships Policy and the RTP Scholarship Policy
A candidate may request a change to the title of their research project (and therefore their thesis). Applications for change of thesis title must be approved by the candidate’s Principal Supervisor and submitted to the Graduate Research School. Candidates who are impacted by UN or Australian Sanctions may be required to seek Government permission to change thesis title. A change in thesis title may occur without significant change to the research topic.
A proposed change in research topic must show that suitable supervision and other required resources are available for the new research topic, and the proposal must be endorsed by the Dean of the School of enrolment and approved by the Research by Higher Degree Committee. There will be no extension to the total duration of candidature arising from change in either research topic or a change in supervisory team, or both.
Significant changes to a candidate’s research topic may require the candidate to undertake the Confirmation of Candidature process again as determined by RHDC.
Candidates who are impacted by UN or Australian Sanctions may be required to seek Government permission to change projects.
Masters by Research candidates may apply to transfer to a PhD program. Masters by Research candidates will be required to undertake the Confirmation of Candidature steps as outlined in the Candidature Management Procedure for PhDprobationary candidates with the exception that it must take place within the first nine months (or equivalent part-time) of candidature.
If a candidate transfers from a master's degree to a PhD, the total duration of the their enrolment will be up to three years from the date that the candidate commenced the master's degree. There will be no extension to the total duration of candidature arising from transfer from Masters to PhD.
Applications for transfer between programs must be endorsed by the Dean of the School of enrolment and approved by the Chair, RHDC.
Transfers from a PhD program to a masters program will normally be considered where an extension for candidature has not already been approved. Where a candidate has already exceeded the maximum allowable time for a Masters by Research candidate, their thesis must be submitted within six months of their transfer request, or part-time equivalent and any stipends will be terminated on approval of the conversion request.
Applications for transfer between programs must be endorsed by the Dean of the School of enrolment and approved by the Chair, RHDC.
Information on ceasing candidature is located in the Withdrawal from All Studies Procedure (Higher Education).
Readmission to candidature after withdrawal may be considered where support from the Principal Supervisor and Dean of School exists. Candidates must readmit to the same program within 12 months of withdrawing and must submit their thesis within the semester of readmitted enrolment.
Candidates should be aware of the University’s policy relating to intellectual property, moral rights and commercialisation prior to undertaking research. Information regarding these areas at FedUni can be found in the Intellectual Property Policy.
Federation University and supervisors have a responsibility to assist candidates in understanding authorship requirements, and providing guidance in publishing their work during candidature and immediately following submission of the thesis for examination.
Candidates must be aware of data management and storage requirements, as outlined in the Research Data Management Policy.
Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to conduct that involves academic fraud, plagiarism and any other dishonest conduct to gain academic or general advantage; or conduct that otherwise contravenes the provisions of the University’s academic rules, policies and procedures.
The University adheres to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, (The Code), and requires all researchers, including HDR candidates and research managers to be familiar with, and abide by its provisions and to conduct their research and related tasks in accordance with these provisions and all other relevant legal, regulatory and policy requirements.
Advice regarding academic and research misconduct can be sought from the University Integrity Officer.
Should a candidate wish to appeal any decision which they believe adversely impacts on candidature or progress, then the University’s Student Appeal Policy and Procedure provides a framework to do so.
Graduations are administered by the University Graduate Office. Candidates are eligible to graduate after the University Council approves the award of the degree. Candidates wanting to attend a graduation ceremony will need to abide by timelines and requirements as set out on the FedUni Graduations webpage.
HDR Theses and Examination Procedure
Higher Education Graduate Attributes Policy
Student Grievance Policy
Student Grievance Procedure
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) holds overall responsibility for ensuring research is undertaken in accordance with this Policy and the accompanying Procedures.
Others who have responsibility for ensuring compliance with this Policy include:
- Dean, Graduate Research School
- Deans or Nominees of Academic Schools
- Associate Deans of Research or Nominees
- Graduate Research School
- Principle Supervisors, Associate Supervisors, Co-Supervisors, Provisional Principle Supervisors
- Research by Higher Degree Committee
The HDR Candidature Management Policy will be communicated throughout the University via:
- an Announcement Notice under ‘FedNews’ website and through the University Policy - ‘Recently Approved Documents’ webpage to alert the University-wide community of the approved Policy;
- inclusion on the University Policy, Procedure and Forms website; and/or
- distribution of e-mails to Head of School / Head of Department / University staff; and/or
The HDR Candidature Management Policy will be implemented throughout the University via:
- information Sessions; and/or
- training Sessions.
|Title||Location||Responsible Officer||Minimum Retention Period|
|Confirmation of Candidature Panel Report Forms||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|
|Confirmation of Candidature candidate written proposal||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|
|Progress Reports – Annual and Interim||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|
|Variation to Thesis Title / Supervisor Form||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|
|Absentee Leave Forms and supporting documents (med. Certificates etc)||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|
|Extension of Candidature request||Research Services||Dean, Graduate Studies or delegate||Temporary - retain on the student file for 7 Years from date of program completion|