Sunday, September 02, 2012

RMIT Higher Degrees by Research Supervision Policy Suite

RMIT University have issued a "RMIT Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) Candidature and Supervision Policy Suite" for comment. This consists of six documents: three on candidature (28 pages total) and three on supervision (18 pages total). These documents cover policy and procedures, including progress management. Comments close 21 September 2012.


  1. Higher Degrees by Research candidature policy (DOC 124 KB, 7p)
  2. Higher Degrees by Research candidature procedure (DOC 149 KB, 10p)
  3. Higher Degrees by Research candidate progress management procedure (DOC 170 KB, 11p)


  1. Higher Degrees by Research supervision policy (DOC 83.5 KB, 5p)
  2. Higher Degrees by Research supervision procedure (DOC 116 KB, 7p)
  3. Higher Degrees by Research supervisor registration procedure (DOC 83.5 KB, 6p)
Needs Analysis

The Candidature procedure includes a "Needs analysis" to be completed by the candidate and their supervisor on a ‘Needs Analysis Form’. This looks a very useful process, particularly if used to prepare a proforma for the student's portfolio. Unfortunately it appears that RMIT have not yet designed the Needs Analysis Form:

Within one full time equivalent month of the candidate’s research commencement date they and their Senior supervisor/s must complete an analysis of the specific requirements of the proposed research and any additional requirements for support the candidate might have. This is to be done by completion of the ‘Needs Analysis Form’ ...


The Candidature procedure includes an induction process for new candidates. Unfortunately the procedures treat part-time and off-shore candidates as exceptions, who may require special provisions for induction. I suggest this indicates a failure of RMIT to understand the needs of today's candidates.

Every modern university should have an induction procedure which assumes the typical candidate will be unable to attend fixed time, on-campus induction processes. Instead of treating candidates who can't be on campus all the time as second class members of the university community, their needs should be the priority. In addition this will help universities be more inclusive and avoid racial, religious, disability and gender discrimination from on-campus assumptions.

Study mode

RMIT has procedures for changing between full-time and part-time study modes and also restrictions on modes for onshore versus offshore candidates, international and domestic. I suggest that these restrictions do not reflect the rapidly changing circumstances of modern candidates lives and should be abolished. Removing these categories of full/part time, onshore/offshore, international/domestic would better reflect reality and simplify administration. However, such flexibility may be limited by some Australian Government policies.

Transfer Between Programs

The Candidature procedure include provision for transfer from research Masters program to PhD, or the reverse. However, there appears to be no procedure to transfer between a research program and coursework higher degrees. Just as a research masters candidate may find they have scope for more advanced work, a coursework student may, or conversely the student may feel more comfortable with coursework. However, such flexibility may require a change to Australian Government funding arrangements which treat research programs separately.

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