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Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Policy

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Section 1 - Summary

(1) The Policy aims to provide best-practice for offering, awarding and managing Higher Degree by Research Scholarships at Victoria University (VU) for domestic and international applicants/students.  This Policy and associated Procedure outline the requirements of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Scholarships (Stipend, Fee offset and Allowances) which are funded by Victoria University or the Australian Commonwealth Government Research Training Program (RTP).

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Section 2 - HESF/ASQA/ESOS Alignment

(2) HESF: Standards 1.3 Orientation and Progression; 2.2 Diversity and Equity; 2.3 Wellbeing and Safety; 2.4 Student Grievances and Complaints; 4.2 Research Training; 6.2 Corporate Monitoring and Accountability; 7.2 Information for Prospective and Current Students; 7.3 Information Management. 

(3) National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 – Standard 2, 3, 8 and Standard 9.

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Section 3 - Scope

(4) This Policy applies to Scholarships provided by VU to higher degree by research students, including those scholarships funded through the Commonwealth’s Research Training Program.

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Section 4 - Definitions

(5) Domestic Student

(6) International Student (Onshore)

(7) Primary Care Giver: a RTP Stipend Scholarship holder who has the principal responsibility of providing care and attending to the physical needs of a child. Only one person can be the Primary Care Giver of a child at one time. The Primary Care Giver must also be the:

  1. biological or adoptive parent of the child; or
  2. partner of the biological or adoptive parent of the child; or
  3. person caring for a child born of a surrogacy arrangement.

(8) Project-Based (Stipend) Scholarship: a Scholarship which is offered to research on a specific research project. 

(9) Victoria University (VU) Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Scholarships (Stipend, Fee Off-Set or Allowance):  Stipend, Fee Offset or Allowance Scholarships that are not funded by the RTP but funded in part or in full by any one of VU’s organisational units with or without support from industry, philanthropic organisations or grants. 

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Section 5 - Policy Statement

Types of Support Available

(10) Victoria Univerity (VU) and RTP Higher Degree by Research Scholarships may be made up of one or more of the following:

  1. Fee Offset: to assist with tuition fees that would otherwise be payable by the student.
  2. Stipend: to assist with living costs.
  3. Allowances: to assist with ancillary costs incurred by a HDR Student in undertaking a research degree; including, but not limited to Overseas Student Health Cover, relocation costs,  thesis printing, academic or publication costs.

(11) VU may offer scholarship opportunities to targeted groups to give priority to a class of students such as Indigenous students, low socioeconomic status students, students undertaking research in a particular discipline or emerging area of research strength, or students undertaking a higher degree by research for the first time. 

Eligibility Requirements 

(12) Eligibility for a VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend or Allowance) or VU RTP Scholarship (Stipend, Fee Offset or Allowance) is based on enrolment in a higher degree by research at VU.

(13) To be eligible to hold a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship (Stipend):

  1. student must not be receiving income from another source to support that student's general living costs while undertaking their course of study if that income is greater than 75 percent of that students VU HDR or RTP Stipend rate;
  2. income unrelated to the course of study or income received for the student's course of study but not for the purposes of supporting general living costs is not to be taken into account. 

(14) A higher degree by research student must not be receiving an equivalent award or scholarship from the Commonwealth designed to offset HDR fees while holding a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship for Fee Offset. 

Stipend and/or Fee Offset for second degree

(15) Applicants who have completed a research degree and apply for a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship (Stipend or Fee-Offset) for a second research degree at the same or lower Australian Quality Framework level (or equivalent for applicants with a qualification from an overseas institution), will not be eligible or considered for a Stipend or Fee Offset Scholarship.

Application, Selection and Offers 

(16) The application and selection process for VU HDR and RTP Scholarships (Stipend, Fee Offset and/or Allowances) will accord with the relevant Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017 (Cth) and the fairness requirements in Subdivision 19-D of Part 2-1 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth) and is detailed in the Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Procedure

(17) All VU HDR and RTP Scholarship offers will be made in writing and include advice about the types of assistance and support being offered, the conditions and periods of support, and minimum annual stipend rate, if applicable. 

Periods of Support 

(18) Timeframes for support are detailed in Periods of Support for Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships.  

(19) Continuing students in receipt of a Research Training Scheme Scholarship will not be disadvantaged as a consequence of the introduction of the Research Training Program. 

Stipend and Fee Offset Rates 

(20) VU HDR and RTP Scholarships (Stipend) full-time rates for the following year will be at a minimum and maximum as those published by the department administering the Higher Education Support Act 2003 on October 1st of the year preceding the rate being applied. 

(21) If a Stipend scholarship holder is approved by VU to undertake their higher degree by research on a half-time basis and continue receiving a Stipend, the student's part-time Stipend rate will be 50 per cent of the full-time rate for the relevant year.

Supervision and Facilities

(22) In accordance with the Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 1 Admissions, admission to a research degree includes consideration of whether adequate supervision, access to equipment, infrastructure and facilities are available.

(23) VU will provide resources and facilities depending on a range of factors and in accordance with Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 5 Researcher Development and Support.

(24) Academic supervision arrangements and conduct will be managed in accordance with Higher Degree by Research Supervision Policy, Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 7 Supervision and Higher Degrees by Research Supervision - Supervisor Registration and Professional Development Procedure

Leave of Absence

(25) Leave of Absence initiated by HDR students at VU is considered under Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 2 Enrolments and impacts on any scholarship in the Higher Degrees by Research Scholarships Procedure.

Employment Restrictions

(26) VU may limit VU HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarship recipients to a maximum of number of hours paid employment per week. 


(27) Termination of a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship will be in accordance with the relevant Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Procedure

Transfer of Scholarship

(28) VU HDR Scholarships are not transferrable to another institution.

(29) There is no transfer of RTP funding between higher education providers. 


(30) All information provided by applicants will be treated as confidential, according to VU’s Privacy Policy.

(31) Applications and supporting documentation will be maintained in accordance with VU's Records Management Policy and Records Management Schedules.

Grievance and Review 

(32) Applicants for a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship are referred to the RTP Higher Degree by Research Grievance Fact Sheet

(33) A Review of a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship decision may be requested by a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship applicant and/student of the University in accordance with the Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Procedure

(34) All recipients of VU HDR and RTP Scholarships are covered by VU's Student Complaints Policy and the Student Complaints Procedure.

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Section 6 - Procedures

(35) Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Procedure