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Higher Degree by Research Enrolment and Changes to Candidature Policy
1. Purpose:
  1. This policy sets out the principles and procedures for enrolment and changes to candidature within a higher degree by research (HDR) course.
2. Scope:
  1. This policy applies to all candidates enrolled in HDR courses at the University of Canberra, and to the staff involved in HDR supervision and management at the University.
3. Principles:
  1. An HDR candidate is required to ensure that course enrolment is maintained. Maintenance of enrolment in an HDR course is conditional on evidence of satisfactory progress, as determined by the completion of an Annual Progress Report.
  2. A normal full-time (100%) commitment to a HDR course is at least 35 hours per week. Normal part-time (50%) commitment is at least 18 hours per week.
  3. With due authorisation, domestic candidates may transfer from full-time to part-time study or from part-time to full-time study. International candidates on a student visa must maintain a full-time load for the duration of the course.
  4. With the exception of those enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy (by Prior Publication) course, each candidate will be enrolled on a provisional basis until the achievement of Confirmation of Candidature (see the Higher Degree by Research Progress and Milestones Policy for the requirements for Confirmation of Candidature).
  5. Candidates will be encouraged and assisted as far as possible to complete the work required to satisfy the requirements of the degree within the maximum duration of the course and time limits of any funding (e.g. Research Training Program funded places for domestic candidates). International candidates on a student visa are required to complete their course in line with the end date provided in their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).
  6. With the endorsement of the Supervisory Panel, a candidate may apply to make changes to the candidature. All changes to candidature require appropriate approval.
  7. Where there is a conflict of interest, and it is not appropriate for the Approving Authority to make an academic decision regarding an HDR candidate, a delegate with equivalent or higher authority must be nominated
Enrolment Conditions
  1. Except in approved circumstances, an HDR candidate will maintain continuous enrolment in the course for the duration of candidature.
  2. Candidature will be deemed to have lapsed if the candidate, through failure to submit a satisfactory progress report, cannot be re-enrolled.
  3. Except with the permission of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) (DVC R&I), a candidate enrolled in an HDR course may not enrol concurrently in another award course. At the discretion of the DVC R&I, a candidate who is permitted to enrol concurrently in another course and who is granted leave may be required to intermit all courses in which he or she is currently enrolled.
  4. As per the University’s ITM Policy Manual, a candidate wishing to contact the University regarding enrolment, course progress or administrative matters must, for identity verification purposes, send the email from the University email account provided to them upon admission.
On-Campus Enrolment 
  1. The Associate Dean Research (ADR) of the Faculty or the Director of the Research Institute may, on the recommendation of the Primary Supervisor, permit a candidate to pursue work away from the University that is connected with the research for the degree. During provisional candidature, such permission may only be granted under special circumstances.
  2. An HDR candidate will be required to spend a period of at least twelve months full-time equivalent at the University during the course of his or her candidature.
  3. Exceptions to clause 3.13 may be considered by the ADR or Director at the point of application for admission into the course. The proposed Primary Supervisor should apply on behalf of the applicant as part of the Faculty or Research Institute assessment process for admission to the course.  A shorter period of on-campus attendance will be subject to the following conditions:
    1. the candidate spends at least six months (over the course of candidature) on campus, especially during the early phase of candidature. This is to allow face-to-face contact with the Supervisory Panel to discuss the planning and execution of the research project and to familiarise the candidate with the research environment at the University of Canberra;
    2. there is facility for frequent and high quality contact between the candidate and the Supervisory Panel (e.g. by Skype, email, telephone);
    3. coursework required as part of the course can be undertaken online;
    4. as a remote candidate, the candidate will have access to the literature and resources required for the research project;
    5. if the research project involves experimentation, provision will be made for the Primary Supervisor to visit the site occasionally; and
    6. as a remote candidate, the candidate is in an environment that has a research culture and provides the opportunity for exchange of ideas and critical engagement with others regarding the testing-out of research conclusions and methods.
    7. International candidates on an international student visa should be aware that this may impact their student visa
  4. An exception to the rule in clause 3.13 must be approved before an offer of place is made to the applicant. At the time of approval, agreement will be reached on how the transport costs of the candidate and the Supervisory Panel will be met.
Offshore Enrolment
  1. The attendance rules in clauses 3.13-3.15 also apply to applicants who wish to undertake most of their candidature outside Australia.
  2. Further to the conditions set out in clause 3.14, considerations when reviewing an application for mainly offshore enrolment in a HDR course include:
    • any issues relating to languages other than English and the development of English language competence;
    • arrangements for approval of milestones, including the presentation of the confirmation seminar;
    • the availability of Faculty/Research Institute resources to support special arrangements required to maintain candidature; and
    • the availability of suitable supervision at the candidate’s physical location and the financial arrangements required to support this situation.
Employment
  1. If a candidate chooses to undertake paid employment during his or her candidature, the candidate should balance his or her hours of employment with the demands of the course.
  2. International candidates may undertake paid employment consistent with the conditions of their visa.
  3. All candidates are expected to provide an estimate of their hours of employment at each formal review of progress.
  4. Scholarship holders may undertake paid employment consistent with the conditions of their scholarship.

COURSE DURATION
Doctoral courses
  1. Except in approved circumstances, the work for a doctoral degree [1] shall be completed and the thesis submitted:
    1. in the case of a full-time candidate, not less than two years and not more than four years from the date of commencement of candidature; and
    2. in the case of a candidate who is on an international student visa, within the time frame specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment; and
    3. in the case of a part-time candidate, not less than four years and not more than eight years from the date of commencement of candidature.
    4. Duration is calculated on a pro-rata basis for a candidate mixing full-time and part-time candidature in the course of his or her enrolment.
  2. The duration of a Professional Doctorate course may be reduced by credit granted for coursework units. Credit granted for coursework would not reduce the duration of the course under the minimum period of two years (FTE).
  3. The DVC R&I, on the recommendation of the relevant Faculty or Research Institute, may make an exception to the minimum duration of a doctoral course for a candidate. This exception would usually be to permit submission of a thesis before the minimum duration of the course had been reached. To approve a request for early submission, the DVC R&I will require assurance that:
    1. the candidate’s progress has been satisfactory and the thesis and the research upon which it is based is ethically sound and of an examinable standard; and
    2. the early submission of the thesis has the support of the host Faculty or Research Institute, as evidenced by the Primary Supervisor and ADR's advice that the thesis would not benefit from further work.
[1] The Doctor of Philosophy by Prior Publication is not subject to the duration rules listed here under ‘Doctoral courses’. See the Doctor of Philosophy (by Publication) Policy.

Masters by research courses
  1. Except in approved circumstances, the work for a masters by research degree shall be completed and the thesis submitted:
    1. in the case of a full-time candidate, not less than one year and not more than two years from the date of commencement of candidature; and
    2. in the case of a candidate who is on an international student visa, within the time frame specified on their Confirmation of Enrolment; and
    3. in the case of a part-time candidate, not less than two years and not more than four years from the date of commencement of candidature.
    4. Duration is calculated on a pro-rata basis for a candidate mixing full-time and part-time candidature in the course of his or her enrolment.
  2. The duration of a masters by research course may be reduced by credit granted for coursework units. Credit granted for coursework would not reduce the duration of the course under the minimum period of one year (FTE).
  3. The DVC R&I, on the recommendation of the relevant Faculty or Research Institute, may make an exception to the minimum duration of a master’s by research course for a candidate. See clause 3.24 for the conditions that must be met for the DVC R&I to consider such an exception.
Extension to candidature
  1. The University receives no Commonwealth Government funding to support HDR course enrolment beyond the maximum course durations stated in clauses 3.22 and 3.25.
  2. Continuing enrolment of a domestic candidate who has exceeded his or her Research Training Program entitlement will be subject to the payment of tuition fees by the candidate. An international candidate would be required to apply for an extension to their Confirmation of Enrolment and may be required to extend their visa.
  3. An eligible domestic candidate may apply to the Dean of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute for an extension of tuition fee support via an overtime sponsorship. Sponsorships are funded by the host Faculty or Research Institute. 
  4. In order to be eligible for overtime sponsorship, a candidate must:
    1. currently be enrolled at University of Canberra in either a doctoral or a masters by research course;
    2. have completed his or her data collection or equivalent;
    3. be in the writing up stage of the thesis development; and
    4. not be a University of Canberra academic staff member.
  5. The Dean or Director will assess each application on the basis of merit, including the likelihood that the candidate will complete within the period of sponsorship.
  6. Overtime sponsorship will be offered for a limit of six months enrolment. Further overtime sponsorship will be considered only in exceptional circumstances.
  7. Provided other criteria for enrolment are met, a candidate may continue enrolment in the HDR course as a fee-paying candidate after the overtime sponsorship has expired. Australian citizens charged tuition fees are eligible for FEE-HELP assistance. International candidates will continue to pay tuition fees until submission.
  8. Extensions to candidature are separate to extensions to scholarships. The various scholarships available are governed by different terms and conditions, and many are for periods less than the maximum duration of candidature.
Leave from candidature
  1. Subject to the terms of this policy and associated procedure, HDR candidates are entitled to apply for leave from their candidature in the form of an intermission (six month period), recreation leave, sick leave, parental leave, or compelling or compassionate leave.
  2. These leave provisions, excluding intermission, do not apply while HDR candidates are undertaking the coursework units of the Higher Degree by Research course. See the Enrolment Policy for information on Leave of Absence from coursework.
  3. Approval of intermission, sick leave in excess of 10 days, parental leave and leave for compassionate or compelling reasons is at the discretion of the ADR of the Faculty or the Director of the Research Institute. In approving periods of leave the ADR of the Faculty or the Director of the Research Institute will consider any potential impact on the satisfactory progress of the candidature.
  4. Recreational leave and periods of sick leave of less than 10 days are negotiated between the candidate and Primary Supervisor and are recorded at Faculty/Research Institute level only.
  5. An application for leave from candidature will not normally be approved once a candidate has exceeded their maximum period of candidature outlined in clauses 3.33 and 3.25.
  6. International onshore candidates on a student visa may apply for periods of leave from candidature up to six months (to a maximum of 12 months FTE for the total candidature) and are only permitted to take such leave in compassionate or compelling circumstances in accordance with Australian Government legislative requirements.  An application by an international candidate for leave will be processed in consultation with International Compliance Unit to ensure student visa conditions are not contravened.
  7. The University is required to notify the relevant Australian Government department if leave other than recreation leave of up to 20 working days per year (as described in Recreation Leave below) or sick leave of up to ten days per annum (as described in Sick Leave below) is approved for an international candidate. Such leave may affect their student visa.
  8. Scholarship holders may be entitled to continue receipt of their stipend during periods of leave and should check the conditions of the award for details.
  9. Candidates applying for leave need to consider the impact of that leave on any enrolled coursework unit/s and study program requirements.
Intermission
  1. Intermission is the voluntary suspension of studies, approved by the ADR of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute, for a period of six months (one semester).  
  2. Except in circumstances beyond the control of the candidate, the total period of intermission from the course should not exceed twelve months. Intermission will be granted for one six month period at a time. 
  3. In exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the candidate, the ADR of the Faculty ADR or the Director of the Research Institute may grant a candidate cumulative leave in excess of twelve months. When such an exceptional intermission is granted, the University will endeavour to ensure, but cannot guarantee, that appropriate supervision and resources will be available to support the candidate on return from intermission.
  4. On approval of an intermission application, the minimum and maximum durations of the course will be adjusted accordingly.  Where return dates are known, International candidates will be provided a new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) with updated course dates. International candidates also need to consider the effect any leave may have on their student visa.
  5. Upon rejection of an intermission application, the candidate can either continue or discontinue from the course. A candidate who discontinues may apply for readmission in the future but should note that previous progress in the HDR course may be taken into account to determine the maximum duration of their course. Candidates may appeal any rejection of an application for intermission through the processes documented in the Student Grievance Resolution Policy
Returning From Intermission
  1. A candidate granted intermission must inform the HDR Support team of his or her intent to resume enrolment at least two weeks before the approved date of return in order to reactivate candidature and scholarship payments (where applicable).
  2. International candidates will also require an updated Confirmation of Enrolment and should ensure that this is in place. Failure to obtain an updated Confirmation of Enrolment may impact their student visa.
  3. Candidature may be deemed to have lapsed through failure to inform the HDR Support team of the intent to resume enrolment after a period of intermission, and will result in the candidate being discontinued from the course. International candidates should be aware that this will result in the cancellation of their Confirmation of Enrolment and that this action may impact on their student visa.
Recreation leave
  1. HDR Candidates are entitled to receive up to 20 working days recreational leave per year without effect upon the duration of their candidature.
  2. Recreation leave does not need to be formally approved, but requires agreement with the primary supervisor.
Sick leave
  1. Candidates are entitled to up to 10 days sick leave per year to be managed within the Faculty/Research Institute and without effect upon the length of the candidature.
  2. Sick leave for periods of more than 10 continuous working days may be granted on presentation of a medical certificate. Claims must be made within 30 days of the end of the period of illness using the Higher Degree Research Leave Application form. Scholarship holders should also complete this form.
  3. Sick leave over and above the 10 day per annum entitlement, is a temporary cessation of candidature, which results in an extension to the maximum course completion dates for the thesis by an equivalent period and in the case of an international candidate they may require an extension to their visa.
Parental Leave
  1. A candidate, who is the primary carer of a child, may be entitled to a maximum of 60 working days parental leave around the birth of a child. For domestic candidates, this leave may be extended to circumstances where a child is adopted.
  2. Application for parental leave must be made before the leave is taken using the Higher Degree Research Leave Application form and provision of relevant documentation, e.g. medical certificate indicating due date of child. Scholarship holders should also complete this form.
  3. Parental leave is a temporary cessation of candidature, which results in an extension to the maximum course completion dates for the thesis by an equivalent period.
Other Leave
  1. Periods of leave from candidature, other than the categories listed above, will only be considered where compassionate or compelling circumstances exist. Types of compelling or compassionate leave could include, but are not limited to:
    1. bereavement of close family members such as children, parents or grandparents;
    2. a traumatic experience which could include:
      • involvement in, or witnessing of a serious accident (supported by police reports or psychologists’ reports); or
      • witnessing or being the victim of a serious crime, and this has impacted on the candidate (supported by police reports or psychologists’ reports)
    3. major political upheaval or natural disaster in the candidate’s home country requiring emergency travel and this has impacted on the candidate’s studies.
  2. At the discretion of the ADR of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute, periods of leave from candidature approved as compelling or compassionate, may result in an extension to the maximum course completion dates by an equivalent period.
CHANGES TO CANDIDATURE
Change of study mode
  1. A candidate may transfer from full-time to part-time study or vice versa with the written approval of the Primary Supervisor. The changes will be effected from the beginning of the teaching period following the request. Requests must be made before 1 January for the first six months of the calendar year and before 1 July for the second six months. This option is not available to international candidates on an international student visa.
Change of Supervisory Panel
  1. An HDR candidate is supervised by a panel of supervisors rather than a single supervisor. A Primary Supervisor is appointed. The Primary Supervisor assumes primary responsibility for supervision and acts as convenor of the panel.
  2. A candidate or a panel member may request changes in Supervisory Panel arrangements during candidature. A change in panel arrangements may occur because of a change in circumstances for either the candidate or a member of the panel. All parties affected must be informed in advance of any circumstances that may warrant a change of arrangements  to ensure that appropriate supervision of the candidate is not disrupted.
  3. Possible reasons for a change in Supervisory Panel arrangements include:
    • a change in the direction or scope of the research project requiring different supervisory expertise;
    • a change in the candidate’s enrolment (such as the candidate changing from part-time to full-time enrolment or the candidate temporarily moving to another institution for research purposes);
    • a change in the Supervisory Panel workload share (e.g. where a secondary supervisor takes on more of the primary supervisory workload than the primary supervisor);
    • a panel member going on extended leave or on the Outside Studies Program; or
    • an irreconcilable difference of opinion between the candidate and a member of the Supervisory Panel as to the direction of the research project.
  4. The ADR of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute is responsible for approving a change to a panel. Any change to a Supervisory Panel must maintain the compliance with the Higher Degree by Research Supervision Policy.
Change in the direction or scope of research
  1. A change in the direction or scope of a candidate’s research project may warrant a modification in candidature arrangements. Any change to the project must be discussed in advance between the candidate and the Supervisory Panel.
  2. A minor change to the research project may include such matters as a change of title of the research project or thesis or a minor change in the methods employed in the research. Minor changes should be noted in the candidate’s next Annual Progress Report.
  3. A major change in the direction or scope of the research is one that may:
    1. have resource implications for the candidate and the host Faculty or Research Institute;
    2. have implications for supervisory arrangements and the academic expertise involved in the supervision;
    3. effect the completion time for thesis submission; or
    4. may impact the visa of an international candidate.
  4. A major change in the direction or scope of the research may instigate a number of possible changes to candidature, including:
    1. a change in Supervisory Panel arrangements to incorporate the appropriate expertise;
    2. a change in attendance status if additional off-campus data gathering or experimentation is required to complete the project;
    3. transferring from a Professional Doctorate to a PhD course;
    4. upgrading from a masters to a doctoral course; or
    5. transferring the current level of study to a different Faculty or Research Institute within the University.
  5. A candidate enrolled in a research course specialisation in one Faculty or Research Institute seeking transfer to another specialisation at the same level of study firstly must discuss the possible transfer with the current Supervisory Panel. Considerations include:
    1. written confirmation that the proposed new host Faculty or Research Institute is willing to accept responsibility for the candidate’s resource support and supervision;
    2. approval of the transfer by the current host Faculty or Research Institute;
    3. identification of revised Supervisory Panel with appropriate availability and expertise;
    4. time remaining in candidature; and
    5. any implications a transfer may have on the retention of a candidate’s scholarship.
Transfer between research courses (Professional Doctorate to PhD)
  1. A candidate enrolled in a research Professional Doctorate (PD) (where the research component makes up at least two thirds of the course) who wishes to transfer to a PhD course in the same field of study must have completed sufficient study in the PD course to allow an assessment of his or her capacity to undertake original and independent research. This would normally mean that a candidate would complete the required coursework components and approximately six months equivalent full-time candidature of the thesis component prior to application to transfer. Furthermore, a transfer would normally take place not later than twenty-four months (full-time equivalent) after initial enrolment. It is expected that, prior to applying to transfer, a candidate will have achieved Confirmation of Candidature in the PD course.
  2. An application for transfer from PD to PhD candidature must be supported by the Supervisory Panel, and must include: 
    1. a written justification for the transfer, that demonstrates the candidate’s awareness of the differing requirements and standards for the PhD;
    2. evidence of the candidate’s ability to work to meet the requirements and standards of the PhD (e.g. draft chapters of the thesis); and
    3. a copy of the candidate’s most recent Annual Progress Report or Research Plan Review.
  3. The candidate is also required to present a publicly advertised transfer seminar. The seminar will be evaluated by at least two assessors chosen by the Primary Supervisor, according to the following criteria:
    • must meet academic requirements for the appointment of doctoral examiners (see Examination of Higher Degree by Research Theses Policy);
    • must have scholarly expertise in the discipline area/s of the candidate; and
    • must not be a member (past or present) of the candidate’s Supervisory Panel.
  4. The Primary Supervisor will ensure that the assessors receive all upgrade documentation (application documentation) at least one week prior to the seminar.The seminar will be followed by a closed session in which the assessors meet with the candidate and Supervisory Panel for further feedback.
  5. If the Faculty or Research Institute are confident of the candidate’s ability to successfully complete the PhD thesis, the Primary Supervisor is required to prepare a brief recommendation supporting the transfer. The recommendation should cover the following:
    • reasons for recommending the transfer;
    • the level of the candidate’s current research and written work; and
    • an estimation of the period required to complete candidature in the new course.
  6. The ADR of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute is responsible for final approval of a transfer from a PD to a PhD course in the same field of study.
Upgrade from a masters to doctoral course
  1. A candidate who is enrolled in a masters by research course who wishes to upgrade to a doctoral course in the same field of study must have completed sufficient study in the masters course to allow an assessment of his or her capacity to undertake original and independent research. This would normally mean that a candidate would complete the required coursework components and approximately nine to twelve months equivalent full-time candidature of the thesis component prior to application to transfer. Furthermore, a transfer would normally take place no later than eighteen months (full-time equivalent) after initial enrolment.
  2. Due consideration must be given to the potential difficulties a candidate seeking to upgrade at an advanced stage of a masters may face. Problems may be encountered in developing the research project to a new conceptual level or integrating research from the masters into a coherent doctoral thesis. A candidate seeking to transfer at this stage should consider completing the master’s degree and then enrolling in a doctorate.
  3. Procedures for an upgrade are as follows:
    1. an upgrade from masters to doctoral candidature must be supported by the Supervisory Panel;
    2. in considering an application for upgrade, the Faculty or Research Institute will require assurance that:
      • the candidate has demonstrated a capacity to undertake work at the more advanced level;
      • the nature of the proposed research topic is substantial enough to warrant the expansion of the research framework; and
      • the definition of the project is such that the candidate is highly likely to complete a doctoral thesis that will make a significant contribution to knowledge;
    3. a case for upgrading which simply asserts either that the area is large enough to warrant an expanded scale of activity or that the candidate has received exceptional grades in his or her masters units will not be considered. It will be necessary to demonstrate that the analytical framework has been considered and is appropriate;
    4. the process for upgrading involves the candidate preparing all documentation to allow the Faculty or Research Institute to make a confident assessment of the candidate’s ability to successfully complete a doctoral thesis, including:
      • a full doctoral research proposal;
      • at least two chapters of the draft thesis, or equivalent work in published (or accepted for publication) scholarly papers; and
      • a copy of the candidate’s most recent Annual Progress Report or Research Plan Review;
    5. once the Primary Supervisor is satisfied that the documentation for upgrade is prepared to a level that will pass external assessment, the Primary Supervisor will organise assessors for, and publicly advertise, an upgrade seminar;
    6. the upgrade seminar and all documentation will be evaluated by at least two assessors chosen by the Primary Supervisor, according to the following criteria:
      • must meet academic requirements for the appointment of doctoral examiners (see Examination of Higher Degree by Research Theses Policy);
      • must have scholarly expertise in the discipline area/s of the candidate;
      • must not be a member (past or present) of the candidate’s Supervisory Panel; and
      • at least one assessor must be external to the host Faculty or Research Institute, and preferably the University;
    7. the Primary Supervisor will ensure that the assessors receive all upgrade documentation at least one week prior to the seminar;
    8. the seminar will be followed by a closed session in which the assessors meet with the candidate and Supervisory Panel for further feedback. Each assessor will complete and submit an Assessor Report Form to the Primary Supervisor;
    9. following positive assessments of the upgrade seminar, the Primary Supervisor will prepare a brief recommendation supporting the upgrade. The recommendation should cover the following:
      • reasons for recommending the upgrade;
      • the level of the candidate’s current research and written work; and
      • an estimation of the period required to complete candidature in the new course;
    10. the Primary Supervisor will submit the justification, along with all upgrade documentation and assessor reports, to the ADR (or delegate) of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute;
    11. the ADR of the Faculty or Director of the  Research Institute is responsible for final approval of an upgrade from a masters by research course to a doctoral course in the same field of study;
    12. the ADR of the Faculty or Director of the Research Institute will forward all upgrade documents (including documented final approval) to the HDR Support team. The upgrade cannot be processed until the  HDR Support team receives this documentation;
    13. a candidate who successfully upgrades will be considered to have achieved Confirmation of Candidature in the doctoral course.
Withdrawal from the course 
  1. A candidate may withdraw from the HDR course at any time. A candidate considering withdrawal is strongly encouraged to discuss the situation with the Supervisory Panel before making a final decision.
  2. International candidates should consider the impact on their student visa.
  3. A candidate who has withdrawn from an HDR course may apply for readmission at a future date. The University’s consideration of the application will be subject to the continuing currency of the research, the currency of the research skills of the candidate, the previous progress of the candidate and the availability of appropriate supervision and resources.
Grievances
  1. Grievances relating to academic or administrative actions or decisions taken by the University and its staff in relation to this policy are to be resolved informally in the first instance.
  2. If informal resolution is not possible, the procedures outlined in the Student Grievance Resolution Policy should be applied.