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Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Procedure

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Section 1 - Summary

(1) This Procedure outlines the processes for the offering, awarding and managing Higher Degree by Research Scholarships at Victoria University (VU) for domestic and international applicants/students. 

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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) All eligible students applying for or enrolled in HDR programs who are eligible for or hold VU HDR or RTP Scholarships.

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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/Regulation

(10) Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Policy

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Section 6 - Procedures

Part A - Summary of Roles and Responsibilities

Roles

Responsibilities

Domestic and International VU HDR and RTP Scholarship applicants
Submit application and required documents by deadline.
Deputy Director, Research Institutes
Decide outcomes of applications for:
• VU HDR and RTP Fee Offset Scholarship applications. 
• Decide outcomes of VU HDR and RTP Allowance Scholarship applications. 
• VU HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarships for Project-Based Stipend Scholarships 
• VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders to undertake their degree, or part thereof, outside of Melbourne or offshore 

Make recommendations for outcomes of VU HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarship applications.

Approve an extension of up to six months to the relevant Period of Support for a Victoria University HDR; RTP Stipend Scholarship; or RTP Fee Offset Scholarship, in relation to the student’s course of study being materially adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. 
University Scholarship Ranking Committee(s) Undertake(s) strategic assessment and decide(s) outcomes of VU HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarship applications. 
Deputy-Director, Research Partnerships Manage administration of VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend and/or Allowances) applications. 

Make offers, in writing, of Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend, Fee-Offset and/or Allowances) for domestic applicants.
VUI  Make offers, in writing, of HDR and RTP Scholarships (Stipend, Fee Offset and/or Allowances) for international applicants.
Senior Officer, Admissions and Enrolments Make offers, in writing, of RTP Fee Offset Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships for domestic applicants
Dean Graduate Research Undertakes reviews that are requested in relation to VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset, Stipend or Allowance) applications.  

Part B - Procedures

Types of Support

(11) 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.

(12) 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.

Eligibility 

(13) Eligibility for VU’s HDR or RTP Scholarships is detailed in the Higher Degree by Research Scholarships Policy, and will be assessed at the time of application. 

(14) Applicants are expected to confirm that they meet the eligibility requirements on application and inform the university if at any time during their candidature, they do not meet the eligibility requirements. 

Applying for a Scholarship 

(15) For each Stipend Scholarship opportunity a Guide to Applicants will be made available outlining key details of the Stipend Scholarship, application and selection processes.

(16) Applicants are required to review the Graduate Research Scholarships website and refer to the Guide to Applicants prior to submitting their application. 

(17) A call for applications for RTP Scholarships (Stipend and Fee Offset) will be published at least once a year on VU’s Graduate Research Scholarships website enabling a competitive process to be undertaken. Applications may be open to both Domestic and International applicants.

(18) Applications for RTP Scholarships (Fee Offset), without a VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend) or RTP Scholarship (Stipend), may be submitted by domestic applicants according to the Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 1 Admissions

(19) At the discretion of VU and subject to funds available, opportunities to apply for a VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend) with a RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset) will be published on VU’s Graduate Research Scholarships website. Applications may be open to both Domestic and/or International applicants. 

(20) VU may, and subject to funds available and strategic alignment, directly invite Domestic students to apply for a VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend) with a RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset). This situation may be particularly relevant to research grants/philanthropic support. 

(21) VU may open opportunities for Applications for RTP Scholarship (Allowances). Applications may be open to both Domestic and International applicants who are enrolled in a VU higher degree by research and meet the eligibility criteria for the specific Scholarship (Allowances) opportunity. The opportunity will be published on VU’s Graduate Research Scholarships website

Scholarship Selection Processes and Decisions 

(22) Scholarships will be awarded following the processes outlined in Table 1.

Table 1. Processes for awarding Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships

Scholarship     Process
RTP Scholarships (Stipend) Awarded via a competitive process
Victoria University HDR Scholarships (Stipend) Awarded at the discretion of Victoria University, which may or may not involve a competitive process
RTP Scholarships (Offset) for Domestic Students Awarded at the discretion of Victoria University, which may or may not involve a competitive process
RTP Scholarships (Offset) for International Students Awarded via a competitive process
Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships (Allowances) Awarded at the discretion of Victoria University, which may or may not involve a competitive process

(23) Prior to an applicant being considered for a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship, applicants must meet the criteria for Admission to a HDR, following Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 1 Admissions

(24) Applications for a VU HDR or RTP Stipend Scholarship will be assessed against criteria published in the Guide to Applicants. The selection criteria will include academic merit and may include other criteria, including, but not limited to:

  1. Relevant research experience
  2. Publications
  3. Relevant work experience
  4. Alignment with VU’s strategy 

(25) VU reserves the right to contact referees as part of the decision-making process.

(26) Outcomes of applications will be decided by the parties set out in Table 2, following any processes required by the Policy.

Table 2.    Decision-makers for Victoria University and RTP Scholarships

Applicant cohort and scholarship opportunity Decision-makers
Applicants for VU HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarships with Fee Offsets Recommendations made by a panel which includes the Deputy-Directors, Research Institutes, or their nominees. Final decisions are made by the University Scholarship Ranking Committee.
Fee Offset scholarships without a Stipend Scholarship Deputy-Director, Research Institute or nominee 
Project-Based Scholarships (Stipend and/or Fee Offset) Recommendation of the supervisor of the Project. Final decision made by the Deputy-Director, Research Institute
VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Allowance) Deputy-Director, Research Institute or nominee

Scholarship application outcomes and communication 

(27) VU will, at the time of offer of admission, document the value of the relevant: 

  1. RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset); 
  2. VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend) or RTP Scholarship (Stipend); 
  3. any RTP Scholarship (Allowances) which are attached to a VU HDR Scholarship (Stipend) or RTP Scholarship (Stipend). 

(28) Outcomes of all VU HDR and RTP Scholarship that include a Stipend or Allowance will be made in writing by the Deputy Director, Research Partnerships or nominee and (where relevant) include advice about:

  1. the value of the HDR or RTP Scholarship (Allowance),and
  2. the outcome of the application for admission, and 
  3. any types of assistance and support being offered, and
  4. the conditions and periods of support, and 
  5. the estimated annual value of the support provided by VU HDR and/or the Australian Government. 

(29) Outcomes of applications for RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset) will be made according to the Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 1 Admissions. Applicants successful in being awarded a RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset) will be sent an offer in writing by Admissions, Pathways and Scholarships which will include advice about the outcome of the application for admission, the support being offered, the conditions and periods of support, and the estimated annual value of the support provided by the Australian Government.

Payment of Scholarships

(30) VU will pay each student their full-time or part-time VU HDR or RTP Scholarship (Stipend) in proportion to the period of time for which the student is supported with a Scholarship (Stipend).

(31) VU will make fortnightly payments directly to students in respect of their VU HDR or RTP Scholarship (Stipend). To avoid doubt, payment into an account in the student's name with an Australian financial institution is considered to be a payment directly to the student.

Regular Campus Attendance

(32) Applicants who receive RTP Fee Offset and/or Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) are expected to regularly attend the same campus where at least one of their supervisors is based for the duration of their course. Exceptions to this are for fieldwork or industry placements.

(33) In exceptional and extenuating circumstances, Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders may apply to the Deputy Director, Research Institute to undertake their degree, or part thereof, when they are not able to regularly attend the same campus where at least one of their supervisors is based. Applications will be assessed by the Deputy Director, Research Institute or nominee considering whether:

  1. the degree in which they are enrolled is approved for online and remote delivery, and 
  2. the student’s location will benefit the student's research quality, progress and participation in their degree. 

(34) The outcome of the request will be communicated to the VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holder by Deputy Director, Research Partnerships or nominee within 20 business days of making the request. 

Periods of Support 

(35) VU will, at the time of offer, document the Period of Support, which is detailed in Periods of Support for Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships.

(36) Periods of support for Stipends and Fee Offsets:

  1. are calculated from the course of study commencement date, not the commencement of the Scholarship.
  2. will be increased for any periods of Additional Sick Leave and/or Parental Leave approved by Victoria University. 
  3. will be increased for any periods of additional support due to the impacts of COVID-19 on their study which have been approved by Victoria University.

Stipend and Fee Offset Scholarship COVID-19 Extensions 

(37) VU may approve, at any time up until 31 December 2022, an extension of up to six months to the relevant Period of Support listed in Periods of Support for Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships for a Victoria University HDR or RTP Fee Offset Scholarship if a student is otherwise making satisfactory progress and the grounds for the extension relate to the student’s course of study being materially adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. 

(38) VU may approve, at any time up until 31 December 2022, an extension of up to six months to the relevant Period of Support listed in Periods of Support for Victoria University HDR and RTP Scholarships for a Victoria University HDR or RTP Stipend Scholarship if a student is otherwise making satisfactory progress and the grounds for the extension relate to the student’s course of study being materially adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

(39) Students who were: 

  1. enrolled in a higher degree by research as at 1 March 2020; or
  2. prior to 1 March 2020 and were on a suspension or leave of absence, and
  3. were deemed to be making Satisfactory Progress at their last Candidature Milestone 

    may apply for an extension of up to six months to their VU HDR or RTP Stipend and/or Fee Offset Scholarship by providing the following documentation:  
  4. A letter of support from their Principal Supervisor detailing how the student’s course of study has been materially adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and the duration of the VU HDR or RTP Stipend and/or Fee Offset Scholarship being requested. 
  5. A report from the student on any Higher Degree by Research Allowances received from VU in 2020 or 2021 to support the quality of their thesis and research progress; 

(40) If a Higher Degree by Research Allowance has been approved for 2022, justification from the student as to why an extension beyond 2022 is required.  

(41) Complete applications comprising the documentation listed in clause (39)d-(33)e and(40), in one single PDF, may be submitted at any time up until 1st December 2022 to gradresearch@vu.edu.au 

(42) An Institute Deputy Director will review the application and decide to approve, modify or not approve the application. 

(43) Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application within 15 working days from when they submitted their complete application. 

Acknowledgement of Support

(44) Recipients of VU HDR or RTP Scholarships (Stipend, Fee Offset or Allowance) must include the following acknowledgment statement in publications resulting from the support received: "This research is/was supported by a VU or Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.".  

Stipend and Fee Offset Rates

(45) The Stipend and Fee Offset Rates for VU HDR and RTP Scholarships will be published each year on the Graduate Research Scholarships website

(46) Overpayments of VU HDR or RTP Scholarship Stipends must be repaid to VU.

Leave of Absence and Paid Leave

(47) Victoria University HDR and RTP Stipend Scholarship recipients are entitled to the following leave: 

  1. Up to 20 working days’ paid recreation leave and ten working days paid sick leave for each year of the Stipend. These leave entitlements may be accrued over the life of the will be forfeited when the Stipend is terminated. 
  2. Additional paid sick leave of up to a total of 60 working days during the duration of the Stipend for periods of illness where the student has insufficient sick leave entitlements available under Clause (47a), provided that a medical certificate has been provided by the student to Victoria University. 
  3. Sick leave entitlements (including additional sick leave) may also be used to cover leave for students with family caring responsibilities, subject to the usual practice of Victoria University. 
  4. Students who have completed 12 months of their Stipend are entitled to a maximum of 60 working days paid parental leave during the duration of the Stipend for a birth mother or Primary Care Giver. Subject to the usual practice of Victoria University, paid leave may also be approved if the student has adopted a child.
  5. Students who are partners of women giving birth while receiving a Stipend and who have completed 12 months of their Stipend, may be entitled to a period of paid parenting leave at the time of the birth or adoption, subject to the usual practice of Victoria University.

Applying for Leave of Absence and Additional Leave of Absence 

(48) Leave of Absence and Additional Leave of Absence must be applied for according to the Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 2 Enrolments.

(49) Stipend payments will cease during periods of Leave of Absence and Additional Leave of Absence.

(50) If Stipend payments continue during a period of Leave of Absence or Additional Leave of Absence, the VU HDR or RTP Stipend holder must notify researchscholarships@vu.edu.au. (See clause (46) regarding overpayments) 

(51) Stipend holders must notify researchscholarships@vu.edu.au when they return from Leave of Absence or Additional Leave of Absence. 

Applying for Paid Leave (Parental and Additional Sick Leave) for VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) Holders

(52)  An Application for Parental and Additional Sick Leave must be completed and submitted to gradresearch@vu.edu.au  

(53) Stipend payments will continue during periods of approved Parental and Additional Sick Leave. 

(54) Candidature will be extended for periods of approved Parental and Additional Sick Leave. 

Research Internships

(55) Eligible industry placements be will be managed in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedures (Eligible HDR Industry Placements) developed, in consultation with key stakeholders, and maintained by the Manager Researcher Professional Development, and approved by the Deputy Director, Research Partnerships. 

(56) For the purposes of University RTP funding, an eligible research internship must:

  1. be undertaken by a Research Doctorate student;
  2. be a minimum of three calendar months in duration; 
  3. include 60 full-time equivalent days of engagement in R&D activities undertaken by the student; 
  4. be related to the student’s Research Doctorate area of research. 

(57) For the purposes of Clause 56, the number of hours in a standard working day for the industry associated with the research end-user; or if there is no standard working day — 7.6 hours.

(58) Activities undertaken within the duration of an eligible internship: 

  1. must be agreed to in writing by the student, research end-user and Victoria University; 
  2. can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis; 
  3. can be undertaken on-site with a research end-user, on-campus and/or online. 

(59) For the purposes of determining the commencement date and completion date of an eligible research internship, a Research Doctorate student:

  1. commences an internship on the first day the student engages in R&D activities which count towards the full-time equivalent days of engagement with a research end-user; and
  2. concludes the internship on the last day the student engages in R&D activities which count towards the full-time equivalent days of engagement with the same research end-user. 

(60) All HDR students will continue to receive their RTP Fees Offset during paid or unpaid industry placements, research internships, professional practice or similar enrichment activities. The RTP Fees Offset will not be extended beyond the approved duration of the RTP Fees Offset Period of Support. 

(61) HDR students may continue to receive their Victoria University HDR or RTP Scholarship Stipend during industry placements, research internships, professional practice activities or other similar enrichment activities where the activities are unpaid. 

(62) If a Victoria University HDR or RTP Scholarship Stipend holder receives payment for an eligible research internship, the Victoria University HDR or RTP Stipend may continue if the income is 75% or less than the student’s Victoria University HDR or RTP Stipend rate at the time of the enrichment activity. 

(63) Victoria University HDR or RTP Stipend Scholarship or RTP Fees Offset Scholarship will not be extended beyond the approved duration of the Period of Support.

Managing Employment (VU HDR or RTP Scholarship Stipend Holders) 

(64) Paid employment undertaken must not interfere with a VU HDR or RTP Scholarship Stipend holder's program of study and research. 

(65) VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders are expected to normally study and research full-time (a minimum of 36.75 hours per week) between the hours of 8.00am-8.00pm Monday to Friday with VU HDR and RTP Stipend holders limited to a maximum of eight (8) hours paid employment per week during these hours.   

(66) Variations to the weekly maximum number of hours that VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders may engage in any paid work/volunteering may be negotiated with the candidate’s Principal Supervisor on the condition that timely progress of the degree can be maintained. Agreed variations must be documented via email in advance of them occurring. A total annual limit of 368 hours between the hours of 8.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday remains.

(67) Limitations on the number of hours that a student is in paid employment per week will be relaxed while a doctoral student is undertaking an eligible research internship either on a full-time or part-time basis.

(68) VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders may hold fractional employment appointments up to 0.2. A total annual limit of 368 hours between the hours of 8.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday remains.

(69) Teaching a block at VU will be treated as equivalent to 11 weeks of work at eight (8) hours per week. 

(70) Without limiting any provisions of the section Termination of Scholarship (clauses (82)-(83)), and in accordance with the eligiblity requirements:

  1. student income for general living costs which exceeds 75% of the VU HDR or RTP Stipend will be deducted from the VU HDR or RTP Stipend; and 
  2. overpayment of a VU HDR or RTP Stipend arising from not adhering to clauses (64)-(70) of this Procedure may result in the requirement that such overpayments are repaid to VU.

Applying for Changes in Enrolment

(71) Any significant change in the field of education, topic or approach of a research project after the confirmation of candidature will require a new research proposal to be submitted and confirmed as per the University's Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 3 Pre-Candidature and Candidature

Changing between full-time and part-time enrolment

(72) Changing from full-time to part-time enrolment, or vice-versa, must be discussed with the candidate's supervisor and follow the Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 2 Enrolments, noting the following:

  1. Domestic RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset) holders can apply to change their enrolment from full-time to part-time and vice versa;
  2. Domestic VU HDR and RTP Scholarship (Stipend) holders can only apply to be part-time under certain exceptional circumstances (documented medical condition or carer’s responsibilities) and this is to be approved by the Institute Deputy Director or nominee;
  3. International VU HDR and RTP Stipend and/or Fee Offset holders are only eligible to enrol part-time in exceptional circumstances. 
  4. International students must consult with International Enrolments in Student Administration (via AskVU) if they are intending to change to their enrolment to assist the student to ensure they comply with their visa requirements.

Changing between Research Doctoral and Research Masters degrees

(73) Scholarship holders who are approved to convert their doctoral research to a research Masters will have their candidature duration amended to the timely duration of the degree into which they are transferring. If the candidate has already been enrolled for longer than the timely duration for that degree (as listed in Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 3 Pre-Candidature and Candidature), their Scholarship will cease immediately. If the doctoral candidate has already received support for a Research Masters by way of a Stipend or Fee Offset Scholarship, a transfer to a research masters will not be considered.  

(74) Fee Offset and/or Stipend Scholarship holders undertaking a research masters degree cannot have their Fee Offset and/or Stipend Scholarship transferred to a doctoral degree.

Transferring between Institutions

Transferring to VU 

(75) Any holder of a RTP Scholarship (Fee Offset and/or Stipend) holder at another Higher Education Provider who wishes to transfer to VU will be required to apply through VU’s  Higher Degrees by Research Procedure 1 Admissions and/or via VU HDR and RTP Scholarship Selection respective processes (see above).  

(76) The duration of enrolment already consumed at another institution will be deducted from the timely duration of the relevant VU HDR and RTP Scholarship. 

(77) Any transfer to VU from another institution will additionally depend on the availability of VU HDR and RTP Scholarships. 

Transferring to another institution

(78) If a student wishes to accept an offer of enrolment (and Stipend Scholarship) from another institution they are required to submit a discontinuation form to VU. 

(79) Upon confirmation of the withdrawal date, VU will provide a letter with final confirmation of the relevant dates of enrolment to the student and the alternative institution. 

Termination of Scholarship

(80) A Scholarship (Stipend, Fee Offset and or Allowances, apart from thesis binding) will be terminated on the date that the candidate's thesis is submitted for examination, or at the end of the Period of Support, whichever is earlier.

(81) A Scholarship will be terminated before the end date of the Period of Support if, after due inquiry, the University concludes through an Unsatisfactory Progress nomination, that the award holder has not fulfilled award obligations, or if satisfactory progress is not being made.

(82) The Scholarship will also be terminated by VU under the following circumstances:

  1. If the student fails to meet the Eligibility Requirements of the Policy;
  2. on the withdrawal, incapacity or death of the student; if the award holder does not resume study at the conclusion of a period of intermission, or does not make arrangements to extend that period of intermission;
  3. if, in the opinion of VU, the course of study is not being carried out with competence and diligence or in accordance with the offer of the award, and no suitable alternative arrangements, such as supervision and/or facilities, can be made for continuation of the degree; or
  4. if, under the Student Misconduct Regulations 2019 the student is excluded from the University, or the student’s enrolment or candidature is terminated 
  5. if the student fails to re-enrol or maintain a continuous enrolment.

(83) A RTP Scholarship (Stipend) will also be terminated by VU if the student ceases to be a full-time student and when approval has not been obtained to hold the scholarship on a part-time basis and the student does not remain enrolled full-time. 

Grievance and Review Procedure 

(84) A Review of a Victoria University HDR or RTP Scholarship decision may be requested by a Victoria University HDR or RTP Scholarship applicant and/student of the University. 

(85) A request to review a scholarship decision must be lodged in writing dean.gradresearch@vu.edu.au within 10 University business days of the applicant being informed of the decision.

(86) A review of a scholarship decision is available in circumstances where:

  1. unsuccessful applicants believe there was a breach of process in the handling of their application; or
  2. Scholarship recipients have been determined as ineligible for continuation of their scholarship.

(87) The Dean, Graduate Research will undertake, or arrange a review if there is a conflict of interest, of the decision and a written outcome will be provided within 10 University business days of the date that the request was received by VU. If there are any delays to the timeline for any outcome, the Dean, Graduate Research will advise the applicant/students the reason for the delay and the date that they may receive an outcome of the review. 

(88) The review is final and cannot be appealed within VU.

(89) Students should refer to the Higher Degree by Research Grievance Fact Sheet.