Research Training Policy

Summary

This policy describes the requirements and principles governing research training and the admission to, and progression of, Higher Degrees by Research candidates.

Objectives

This policy aims to:

  • Provide the framework that ensures academic standards and integrity in the University’s research training
  • Set clear responsibilities and accountabilities for decisions affecting Higher Degrees by Research candidates
  • Ensure that the University’s research training processes are transparent and that decisions affecting Higher Degrees by Research candidates are consistent and fair.

Scope

This policy applies to all Swinburne Higher Degrees by Research courses.

Exclusions

Nil


1. Explanation of Higher Degrees by Research

1.1. Australian Qualifications Framework 

The Australian Qualifications Framework defines “research” broadly to cover a range of creative work undertaken systematically and deploying a range of research principles and methodologies to increase knowledge and understanding.

The remaining parts of this section are extracted from the Australian Qualifications Framework.

1.2. This policy

This policy supports the University’s Research Training Regulations and applies to:

  • Doctoral Degrees (Research)
  • Doctoral Degrees (Professional)
  • Masters Degrees (Research)

Research is the defining characteristic of both forms of Doctoral Degree and of the Masters Degree. Research is specified in the learning outcomes for each, with the amount and type of research varying, depending on the qualification.

1.3. Doctoral Degree (Research)

Research in the Doctoral Degree (Research) may be pure, exploratory, experimental or creative.

In addition to the requirements for research, structured learning comprising advanced coursework to facilitate the achievement of the learning outcomes and support the research may be appropriate.

1.4. Doctoral Degree (Professional)

The Doctoral Degree (Professional) allows for research that may be more applied within the context of the given profession.

In addition to the requirements for research, structured learning comprising advanced coursework to facilitate the achievement of the learning outcomes and support the research is mandatory.

Research must comprise at least 67% per cent of the course.

1.5. Masters Degree (Research)

The Masters Degree (Research) is a pathway to a Doctoral Degree so its design must prepare graduates for the research expected of a Doctoral Degree. A minimum of two thirds of the volume of learning for the Masters Degree (Research) must be research, research training and independent study. The volume of learning for the qualification needs to be sufficient to take this into account and may need to be greater depending upon the pathway into the qualification. The outcome of the research component of the qualification is the execution of a substantial piece of research.


2. Accreditation and Approval

2.1. The Accreditation or Approval Instrument

The accreditation instrument for University Higher Degrees by Research should include:

  • A course title, abbreviation and wording of the testamur (in accordance with the Qualifications and Awards Regulation 4 and the requirements of the Australian Qualification Framework);
  • Course learning outcomes and a demonstration of how these align with the requirements of the Australian Qualifications Framework;
  • Details of total volume of learning expressed as EFTSL, and total duration of the course;
  • he purpose of the course and expected graduate or employment outcomes;
  • Course structures and rules (in accordance with the Academic Courses Regulations 36), and the identification of Outcome Units;
  • Details of units of study, including unit learning outcomes, requisites, key generic skills, content and assessment structures;
  • Minimum entry requirements (in accordance with Research Training Regulations 7, 8 and 9);
  • Where appropriate, a statement of any variations to standard academic progress requirements and consequences (in accordance with Academic Courses Regulation 62(b));
  • Details of resourcing, including academic staffing and any special facility requirements;
  • Mode of delivery: face-to-face blended, workplace, offshore;
  • Location of delivery;
  • Details of relevant external reference points or standards, including any relevant professional body requirements.

The University may include other information requirements within the accreditation or approval instrument, for example: rationale, justification, demand, strategic alignment or special features.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Determination of the form and content of the accreditation or approval instruments for Doctoral Degrees (Professional) approved by Academic Senate

Senior DVC and Provost

Must be consistent with the above.

Must be noted by Academic Senate.

Determination of the form and content of the accreditation or approval instruments for Doctoral Degrees (Research) and Masters Degrees (Research) approved by Academic Senate

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Must be noted by Academic Senate.

Determination of additional information requirements for the accreditation or approval instruments for courses

Senior DVC and Provost

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

2.2. Accreditation and Approval of Courses

2.2.1 Courses in New Fields

In accordance with the delegations and guidelines set by the University’s Council, Council approval is required to create a new course that is not a sub-speciality in an existing field in which the University offers courses and that requires:

  • substantial additional resources;
  • external accreditation in order to be recognised.

2.2.2 Business Case

Academic Senate will only consider an application for accreditation or approval if a Business Case for the relevant course has been approved by the Vice-Chancellor.

2.2.3 Accreditation or Approval of Courses

Accreditation is the process for approval by a legislated accrediting authority of a course of study leading to a formal award qualification. The Swinburne University of Technology Governance and Administration Statute 2012 provides authority to Academic Senate to accredit courses of study. This includes the accreditation of courses offered through a partnership with a third party.

A Course Advisory Committee (being a sub-committee of the University’s Academic Senate Courses Committee established in accordance with the terms of reference and membership requirements set by Academic Senate) must be constituted to provide advice and endorsement of proposals for any new Doctoral Degree (Professional) course prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval. A Course Advisory Committee is not a requirement for proposals for new Doctoral Degree (Research) or Masters Degree (Research) courses.

Accreditation or approval is for a period of up to 5 years for Doctoral Degree (Professional) courses. Accreditation or approval for Doctoral Degree (Research) and Masters Degree (Research) courses is for a period of up to 10 years.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to the development and endorsement of course accreditation and approval proposals prior to submission to Academic Senate for approval;
  • Terms of Reference for the Course Advisory Committee.

When making decisions on the approval of a course accreditation or approval proposal, the Academic Senate will consider:

  • The Academic Course Principles listed in the Courses and Awards Policy;
  • Advice and endorsement of the Course Advisory Committee (where relevant).

When making decisions on the approval of a course accreditation or approval proposal that involves delivery of the course through a partnership with a third party, the Academic Senate should also consider:

  • The capability and capacity of the partner to deliver the course to achieve the same learning outcomes as when or if the course is offered directly by the University;
  • The practicality of course closure and teach out arrangements;
  • Regulatory compliance in accordance with the delivery location of the course.

The University and Academic Senate must monitor the quality of courses that have been accredited or approved.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Determination of roles, accountabilities and processes for development and endorsement of course accreditation and approval proposals for Doctoral Degrees (Professional)

Senior DVC and Provost

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Development)

Must be consistent with the above

Determination of roles, accountabilities and processes for development and endorsement of course accreditation and approval proposals for Doctoral Degrees (Research) and Masters Degrees (Research)

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Monitoring of the quality of courses

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Development)

Must report to Academic Senate

2.2.4 Changes to Courses

Changes to accredited or approved courses will be managed in accordance with the Courses and Awards Policy.

2.2.5 Course Review

The course review process for Doctoral Degrees (Professional) will be managed in accordance with the Courses and Awards Policy.

2.2.6 Course Teach Out and Cessation

The University may decide to terminate a course and place the course into “teach out” status. Teach out is a status where no new students can be enrolled into a course. The teach out process for Higher Degrees by Research will be managed in accordance with the Courses and Awards Policy.

Academic Senate may approve a formal cessation of a course once there are no students remaining currently enrolled. The course cessation process for Higher Degrees by Research will be managed in accordance with the Courses and Awards Policy.


3. Eligibility and Selection

3.1. Entry Requirements

Minimum entry requirements are set to ensure that a candidate is only admitted to a Higher Degree by Research course when the University believes that the candidate can undertake the course with a reasonable prospect of success.

Minimum entry requirements are:

  • specified in the course accreditation instrument approved by Academic Senate;
  • In the case of a Doctoral Degree (Professional), specified in the course accreditation instrument;
  • In all cases, published by the University.

When setting minimum entry requirements the University should be guided by the principles of:

  • Clear and consistent admission requirements that are appropriate to the Australian Qualifications Framework;
  • Evidence-based admissions requirements;
  • Elimination of unfair or unnecessary barriers for candidate access to Swinburne courses.

The criteria for minimum entry requirements are inclusive and are as follows:

  1. a. prior learning, including level and duration of prior tertiary education studies; 
  2. b. academic merit;
  3. c. English language proficiency;
  4. d. equivalence measures;
  5. e. qualifications and experience related to the field or fields of the Higher Degree by Research;
  6. f. special factors, including residency, performance at interview, folios and auditions;
  7. g. other matters that the Academic Senate considers relevant to the reasonable prospects of success of applicants in a course.

Changes to minimum entry requirements must not disadvantage any applicants with an existing, open offer from Swinburne.

Minimum entry requirements are published on the Swinburne website.

The University and Academic Senate monitor the effectiveness and appropriateness of minimum entry requirements.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Specifying minimum entry requirements for Academic Senate approved courses

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Minimum entry requirements must be consistent with the above, and documented in the course accreditation instrument for approval by Academic Senate, where applicable.

Publication of minimum entry requirements

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Vice President (International and Students)

 

Monitoring and review of minimum entry requirements

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

A regular report must be submitted to Academic Senate.

3.2. Selection and Offer

For each course the University may set specific selection criteria and may also restrict entry based on the capacity of the University to provide supervision, quotas, the availability of facilities, resources and funding to support a particular research program, and the suitability of the applicant.

When setting selection criteria the University should be guided by the principles of:

  • Clear and consistent information for applicants, including regulatory requirements, Police checks and Working With Children checks where required;
  • Evidence-based selection criteria, including the use of equivalence and precedence.

The University assesses all applications and makes one of the following selection decisions:

  1. a) Unconditional offer; 
  2. b) Conditional offer; 
  3. c) Packaged offer of qualifying course/s leading to the principal course; 
  4. d) An offer into an alternative course;
  5. e) No offer.

The University will provide all information necessary for applicants to accept an offer.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Specifying selection criteria, entry scores and quotas

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and consistent with and subordinate to the approved minimum entry requirements.

Application processing and selection of candidates

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Vice President (International and Students)

Must be consistent with approved minimum entry requirements and selection criteria, entry scores and quotas.

Selection of candidates in cases where applicants present grounds for entry outside of the approved minimum entry requirements

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and selection criteria, entry scores and quotas.

3.3. Withdrawal and cancellation

A number of grounds for the withdrawal of an offer or cancellation of admission and enrolment are set out in the Research Training Regulations.

When making decisions to withdraw an offer or cancel admission and enrolment due to the withdrawal of funding for a program of research or the loss of capacity to provide supervision, factors that the University should consider include:

  • The suitability of any available alternative arrangements that would allow the candidate to transfer to another institution to undertake an equivalent course, or transfer to an alternative course at the University;
  • Restrictions or conditions applying to any scholarship held by or offered to the candidate;
  • Regulatory requirements;
  • Compassionate or compelling circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Withdrawal of offer or cancellation of admission

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Readmission after absence or termination

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with approved minimum entry requirements and selection criteria, entry scores and quotas.

3.4. Deferral

When making decisions on requests to defer an offer, factors that the University should consider include:

  • Restrictions or conditions applying to any scholarship held by or offered to the candidate;
  • Course specific criteria as documented in the course accreditation instrument;
  • Regulatory requirements.

The maximum period for deferment is normally one year or, where an applicant has accepted an offer for a Doctoral Degree (Research) or a Masters Degree (Research), six months. When considering a request to extend a deferment period beyond the maximum period, the University should consider whether the candidate is facing exceptional circumstances, including:

  • Health factors;
  • Financial factors;
  • Indigenous status;
  • Geographic status (e.g., regional and remote areas);
  • Australian Defence Force Reservists where the normal maximum periods of deferral provided to candidates will be extended to ensure that they are not adversely affected by a period of call out regardless of the duration.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Deferrals

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

 

Must be consistent with the above.


4. Study in courses

4.1. Restrictions, requirements and conditions of study

The University will provide all information necessary for applicants to be admitted to the University and complete their enrolment.

The University may impose a range of conditions on candidates, as set out in the Research Training Regulations, including:

  • Maximum study load;
  • Required levels of achievement and milestones;
  • Maximum hours of paid employment;
  • Engagement with support services;
  • xpected behaviour.

Candidates may request to vary study load, undertake concurrent studies, change supervisor or convert from one course to another. When making decisions on these applications, factors that the University should consider include:

  • Course specific requirements;
  • Academic progress to date;
  • The candidate’s prospects of success and capacity to complete in a timely manner;
  • Scholarship requirements;
  • Funding for any program of research;
  • Maximum duration requirements;
  • University resources and capacity;
  • Regulatory requirements;
  • Compassionate or compelling circumstances.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Publication of enrolment information and deadlines

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Enrolment

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and criteria approved by the SDVC and Provost.

Conditional enrolment

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and criteria approved by the SDVC and Provost.

Non-standard requests for variations to study load, undertaking concurrent studies, change supervisor or course conversion.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

4.2. Academic Credit

The University does not grant academic credit for studies completed at other institutions for the:

  • Doctoral Degree (Research)
  • Masters Degree (Research)

The course accreditation instrument for a Doctoral Degree (Professional) may also specify that academic credit is not available for that course.

When determining academic credit the University should be guided by the principles of:

  • Regulatory compliance;
  • Maintenance of academic integrity;
  • Evidence-based decisions, including the use of precedence;
  • Elimination of unfair or unnecessary barriers for candidate access to Swinburne courses;
  • Reasonable prospect of success for the candidate;
  • Regular review, monitoring and continuous improvement processes.

Applications for academic credit may be considered from:

  • Prospective or potential candidates who are seeking entry into a Swinburne course;
  • Current candidates who are enrolled in a Swinburne course (subject to University defined deadlines for submission of applications).

When making decisions on applications for academic credit, factors that the University should consider include:

  • The relevance, nature, currency and authenticity of the evidence provided by the applicant;
  • The equivalency of learning or competency outcomes in the relevant unit or module curriculum documents for any matched exemptions;
  • Regulatory requirements for international candidates;
  • Minimum studies requirements for a Swinburne award;
  • Impact on capacity to successfully complete in a timely manner;
  • Time limits for past studies;
  • Prerequisites relating to core units in the candidate’s course;
  • Professional body accreditation requirements;
  • Comparability of overseas qualifications with Australian qualifications.

The University and Academic Senate monitor the implementation of academic credit.

Changes to academic credit arrangements must not disadvantage any candidates with a current offer.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Specifying maximum credit to be granted for a course

Head of Academic Unit

Must be consistent with the above, and documented in the course accreditation instrument for approval by Academic Senate.

Specification of form and due dates for applications for academic credit and publication of academic credit information and deadlines

Registrars for SUT and SUT (Sarawak)

Must be consistent with the above.

Applications for academic credit

Head of Academic Unit

Must be consistent with the above.

Monitoring and review of academic credit

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

A regular report must go to Academic Senate.

Exemption from time limits

Head of Academic Unit

approved by SDVC and Provost

Must be consistent with the above.

4.3. Full- and part-time study, leave and time limits

Candidates may request to study full-time or part-time. When making decisions on applications to study full-time or part-time, factors that the University should consider include:

  • aximum duration requirements;
  • Scholarship requirements;
  • Course specific requirements;
  • Regulatory requirements;
  • Academic progress requirements.

International candidates holding student visas are required to complete their course within the originally expected duration except in limited circumstances. Onshore international candidates holding student visas can take less than a standard full-time load only if they have approval from the University, and one or both of the following apply:

  1. They have compassionate or compelling circumstances; and/ or 
  2. An early intervention strategy has been activated under the Swinburne’s academic progress requirements.

Higher Degree by Research candidates must complete their course within a 10-year duration. When making decisions on an exemption from the maximum duration requirement, factors that the University should consider include:

  • That the candidate can undertake the course with a strong prospect of success;
  • The capacity of the University to provide supervision, and the availability of facilities, resources and funding;
  • The currency of the research contribution;
  • Scholarship requirements;
  • Compassionate or compelling circumstances;
  • Regulatory requirements.

Candidates may request to take leave of absence. When making decisions on applications to take leave of absence, factors that the University should consider include:

  • Maximum duration requirements;
  • The capacity of the University to provide supervision, and the availability of facilities, resources and funding;
  • Whether the candidate has outstanding fees;
  • Scholarship requirements;
  • Compassionate or compelling circumstances;
  • Regulatory requirements.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Standard requests for variation to enrolment.

Director of Graduate Studies

Must be consistent with the above and criteria approved by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Development)

Requests for leave of absence

Director of Graduate Studies

Must be consistent with the above, and criteria approved by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Development)

Exemption from maximum duration requirement

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above


5. Supervision

Research in Higher Degrees by Research must be supervised by a minimum of two appropriately registered academic supervisors.

The University appoints supervisors.

When determining suitability for supervision duties and appointing supervisors, factors the University should consider include:

  • Academic qualifications;
  • Research productivity, including research income, publications, and/or successful research degree completions within the last five years;
  • Supervisory experience;
  • Potential conflicts of interest.
  • Attendance at mandatory supervision training.

The University will regularly monitor and review its processes for supervision.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Approval of supervisors

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Guidelines and requirements for supervision, including processes for maintaining the supervision register

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and criteria approved by the SDVC and Provost.

Maintaining supervision register

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Research Training)

 

6. Joint Awards

Higher Degree by Research candidates are normally expected to complete all of their studies at Swinburne. In special circumstances permission may be granted for a Higher Degree by Research candidate to enrol in a joint award course with a partner institution.

Applications for a joint award course must be submitted in the form and by the date specified by the University.

Granting of approval for enrolment into a joint award will be guided by the following requirements:

  • Studies are to be undertaken at a national or international partner tertiary institution approved by the University;
  • The candidate has a proven academic record;
  • The candidate has completed all prerequisites for the studies to be undertaken at the partner institution;
  • Where Swinburne is the home institution, the candidate will complete at least 2 years FTE study at Swinburne;
  • Where Swinburne is the host institution, the candidate will complete at least 1 year (FTE) study at Swinburne.

The University may determine other eligibility requirements and conditions of enrolment in an International Exchange program.

Agreements with partner institutions for joint awards may be made between:

  • Swinburne and other recognised Australian educational institutions;
  • Swinburne and other recognised international educational institutions.

When making decisions on the approval of agreements with partner institutions for joint awards, factors that the University should consider include:

  • The strategic importance of the proposed arrangement, and the appropriateness of the proposed partner;
  • The equivalency of processes and standards between the institutions;
  • Regulatory requirements for international candidates;
  • Minimum studies requirements for a Swinburne award;
  • Prerequisites relating to core units in the candidates course;
  • Professional body accreditation requirements;
  • Comparability of overseas qualifications with Australian qualifications.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Entering agreements with partner institutions for joint awards

Vice President (International and Students)

Must be consistent with the above, and after endorsement from the Head of Academic Unit and the DVC (R&D)

Applications for enrolment in joint award course

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above

Additional eligibility requirements and conditions of enrolment in a joint award course

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above


7. Assessment

7.1. Assessment of Units

Assessment of included course work units is generally the same as for other courses, except where otherwise set out in the Research Training Regulations. The Assessment and Results policy is therefore generally applicable to assessment of included course work units."

7.2. Assessment of Research

The examination mode must be selected at the time of application for candidature. Changes to the nominated examination mode will not normally be approved.

Three independent and external examiners must be nominated for approval by the University. When the examinable outcome is submitted, it will be sent to the first and second nominated examiners. The third examiner will be held in reserve and may be used in case of conflicting recommendations or in the event that one of the original examiners is no longer able to undertake or complete the examination process.

In the case of a viva voce or an examination by performance or exhibition, all three examiners will attend the event and conduct the examination.

When considering nominated examiners for approval, factors the University should consider include:

  • Academic qualifications;
  • Previous or current collaboration of any kind with any member of the supervisory team or the candidate;
  • Willingness of the nominated examiner to examine the work;
  • Stated preference of the candidate for or against the nominated examiner.

The examinable outcome submitted for examination should be written in English. In exceptional circumstances, the candidate may seek approval at the time of candidature application to submit the examinable outcome in a language other than English where this is necessitated by the nature of the research program.

Examiners are required to make recommendations to the University as to whether or not the work is to be passed. The recommendation will be one of the following:

  1. Pass without further examination or amendment; 
  2. Pass with minor amendments completed to the satisfaction of the Principal Coordinating Supervisor; 
  3. Pass with major amendments completed to the satisfaction of the Principal Coordinating Supervisor or of the examiner (as chosen by the examiner) 
  4. Not passed; work to be revised and resubmitted for examination within 12 months;
  5. Fail.
    In exceptional circumstances, a Doctoral Degree (Research) may be reconsidered in line with the guidelines for a Masters Degree (Research) in order to determine whether or not the following recommendation applies:
  6. Pass at the level of a Masters Degree (Research)

Where there is major disparity in the recommendations, the opinion of a third examiner will be sought. In the case of lesser disparity, the University will determine the outcome after consideration of the detailed comments and recommendations of the examiners.

The University's research degrees are not graded. The final result is classified as a pass or a fail.

Doctoral graduands may use the doctoral title (‘Doctor’, ‘Dr’) at any time after the date of the meeting at which the University classified the degree as ‘Passed’ and approved the award of the degree.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Selection of examiners

Principal Coordinating Supervisor

Must be consistent with the above and criteria approved by the Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Research & Development)

Approval of examiners

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above.

Submission of examinable outcome

Principal Coordinating Supervisor

Associate Dean Research and Engagement

Must be consistent with criteria approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Outcome of examination

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

 

Approval for award

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

 

8. Academic Progress

8.1. Student progression principles

The University is committed to the maintenance of academic standards and high quality graduate outcomes for Higher Degrees by Research. In order to be permitted to progress through a course candidates are expected to maintain a satisfactory level of academic performance. Candidates who do not meet the required levels of academic performance will be identified and offered advice and support, and may be required to demonstrate why they should be allowed to continue in the course. In accordance with the Research Training Regulations, unsatisfactory progress may have consequences for students, such as conditions imposed on their enrolment or the termination of their candidature.

The University adheres to the principles of natural justice when making decisions regarding academic progress, including:

  • Candidates have access to clearly defined processes regarding academic performance and progress review;
  • Candidates are provided with clear and timely information regarding any unsatisfactory progress;
  • Candidates are given the right and opportunity to present their case;
  • Academic progress issues are considered in a timely and efficient manner;
  • Candidates are treated impartially and equitably during all stages of a progress review process.

8.2. Academic Progress

The Research Training Regulations outlines the criteria for the identification of candidates who are behind schedule and at risk of unsatisfactory progress (‘behind schedule’ status).

The University should provide reasonable advice and support through early intervention processes to candidates who are identified as being ‘behind schedule’.

The Research Training Regulations outline the criteria for the identification of candidates whose progress is unsatisfactory (‘unsatisfactory’ or ‘at risk’ status).

A candidate who has unsatisfactory progress is required to show cause in the manner and form determined by the University as to why their candidature should not be terminated.

The University may impose different academic progress requirements on candidates by category.

The University and Academic Senate monitor the academic progress and status of candidates and the effectiveness of early intervention processes.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Determination of procedures to identify and notify candidates who are ‘behind schedule’, ‘at risk’ or have unsatisfactory progress

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and subordinate to the criteria in the Research Training Regulations

Provision of early intervention advice and support to candidates identified as ‘behind schedule’ or ‘at risk’.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Research Training)

 

Approval of different academic progress requirements and consequences by category

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and subordinate to the criteria in the Research Training Regulations

Monitoring of academic progress of candidates

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Research Training)

A regular report must go to the Higher Degrees Research Committee

8.3. Progress Assessments and Review

8.3.1. Monitoring of Progress

Academic progress is monitored through:

  • performance in enrolled units, where applicable;
  • a series of major reviews during the candidature period;
  • completion and submission of major reviews during the candidature period.

Progress reports must be submitted:

  • by international onshore candidates studying on student visas, every six months in accordance with ESOS requirements;
  • by local candidates, annually.

These components are used to monitor and manage candidate progress to ensure early identification of needs and concerns, provide timely feedback on progress and establish a clear plan of action.

8.3.2. Reviews of Progress

Candidates undertaking a Doctoral Degree will complete at least three major reviews of progress during the period of candidature, as follows—

  • confirmation of candidature review;
  • mid-candidature review;
  • pre-submission review.

Candidates undertaking a Masters Degree (Research) will complete at least two major reviews of progress during the period of candidature, as follows—

  • confirmation of candidature review;
  • pre-submission review.

The University reviews progress on an ongoing basis through the candidate’s grades in enrolled units, where applicable.

Reviews of progress are used to monitor and manage candidate progress, to ensure early identification of needs and concerns, provide timely feedback on progress and establish a clear path of action.

8.3.3. Confirmation of candidature

The purposes of a confirmation of candidature review are to—

  • assess progress to date;
  • assess the potential of the candidate to complete a quality examinable outcome in a timely manner;
  • evaluate the research proposal and project in terms of clarity, coherence and feasibility;
  • provide opportunity for academic contribution to the proposal;
  • provide the candidate with opportunity to demonstrate written and oral presentation skills appropriate to Higher Degree by Research study;
  • publicly acknowledge a major milestone in the project and inform others about the research project.

Confirmation of candidature must be conducted—

  • for Doctoral Degree candidates, at or before the end of the full time equivalent of the 12th month of candidature;
  • for Masters degree candidates, at or before the end of the full time equivalent of the 9th month of candidature.

The University may consider applications to extend the due date of the confirmation of candidature by not longer than six months-

  • where such requests have the full support of the supervisory team and faculty;
  • where the candidate can demonstrate exceptional circumstances or a major change in the direction of the research project.

8.3.4. Mid candidature review

The University must conduct a mid-candidature review of a candidate’s research project.

The objectives of a mid-candidature review are—

  • to identify what has been achieved, and what needs to be achieved;
  • to consider whether the topic, method or mode requires revision;
  • to consider whether the support and supervision arrangements are adequate;
  • to consider whether the research has been conducted in a way that is in keeping with the appropriate ethics clearance;
  • to consider whether progress is satisfactory.

A mid-candidature review must be conducted for doctoral degree candidates at or before the end of the full time equivalent of the 24th month of candidature.

The University may consider applications to extend the due date of the mid-candidature review by not longer than six months-

  • where such requests have the full support of the supervisory team and faculty;
  • where the candidate can demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

8.3.5. Final review prior to submission

The University must conduct a pre-submission review of a candidate’s research project.

The objectives of the pre-submission review are—

  • to consider whether the scholarly work is ready for examination;
  • to consider whether the work will be ready for submission within 6 months time;
  • to consider whether progress is satisfactory;
  • to consider nomination of examiners.

A pre-submission review must be conducted—

  • for doctoral degree candidates, at or before the end of the full time equivalent of the 36th month of candidature;
  • for masters degree candidates, at or before the end of the full time equivalent of the 18th month of candidature.

In addition to the reviews above, Doctoral Degree candidates who have not submitted their thesis for examination by the end of the full time equivalent of the 42nd month of candidature; and Masters Degree (Research) candidates who have not submitted their thesis for examination by the end of the full time equivalent of the 24th month of candidature, will be required to undertake additional pre-submission reviews every six months until submission has occurred.

The University may consider applications to extend the due date of the pre-submission review by not longer than six months-

  • where such requests have the full support of the supervisory team and faculty;
  • where the candidate can demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

8.3.6. Unsatisfactory progress and the ‘at risk’ process

A candidate who has been identified as making unsatisfactory progress and thus is ‘at risk’ will be subject to the ‘at risk’ process.

The University will determine:

  • Roles and accountabilities of staff in relation to ‘at risk’ processes and decisions;
  • Procedures to manage academic progress decisions and outcomes that are consistent with the natural justice principles outlined in this policy.

When making academic progress review decisions, the University should consider:

  • Whether the candidate can continue to undertake the course with a reasonable prospect of success;
  • The relevance, nature, currency and authenticity of any evidence provided by the candidate to support their case;
  • Compassionate or compelling circumstances;
  • Regulatory and legislative requirements for international candidates on student visas;
  • Special requirements of courses;
  • Scholarship requirements;
  • Professional accreditation or registration requirements;
  • Maximum duration of studies.

Possible consequences of unsatisfactory progress are outlined in the Research Training Regulations.

The University and Academic Senate monitor the outcomes of academic progress decisions.

Roles and Responsibilities (VC delegation)

Role / Decision / Action

Responsibility

(Staff holding, acting in or performing the responsible position or office)

Conditions and limitations

Procedures to manage academic progress processes

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above

Guidelines for progress review panels

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

 

Academic progress decisions

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

Must be consistent with the above, and on advice of a progress review panel.

Monitoring of decisions and outcomes of academic progress decisions

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Development)

A regular report must go to Academic Senate


9. Complaints, reviews and appeals

A person dissatisfied with a decision under this policy may lodge a complaint (or in some instances candidates may apply directly for a review), subject to the requirements of the complaints, reviews and appeals provisions of the People, Culture and Integrity Policy and the Review and Appeals Regulations 2012.

DELEGATIONS

This policy includes, where indicated in the tables of roles and responsibilities, delegation of power by the Vice-Chancellor under section 26(7) of the Swinburne University of Technology Act 2010.

DEFINITIONS

Definitions and acronyms used in this policy are available from the Swinburne University Glossary.

GOVERNANCE

Version

Date

Approver

Contact

V 1.0

15 December

Academic Senate

Professor Bernadine Van Gramberg, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Research Training)

V 1.1

18 December

Academic Senate

Professor Bernadine Van Gramberg, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research and Research Training)