The Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship is a Commonwealth Research Scholarship, in accordance with paragraph 46-20 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003. The following conditions are based on the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017 and adapted to comply with USC’s Research Training Program Scholarships – Operational Policy.
This Schedule of Conditions applies to the following RTP Scholarships:
- RTP Stipend Scholarships and RTP Allowances
- RTP Fees Offset Scholarships
2. How to apply
2.1 Applications for all RTP Stipend Scholarships and RTP International Fees Offset Scholarships must be lodged with the Graduate Research School by the advertised closing date. Applications may be lodged at more than one University. Applicants must apply separately to each prospective institution.
2.2 Application forms can be downloaded from the USC website.
2.2.1 Domestic admissions applications will automatically be considered for an RTP fees offset scholarship as part of the admission process.
2.3. Any changes to eligibility criteria will not be applied to continuing students.
2.4 Awardees will receive a letter of offer describing their RTP Scholarship inclusions (e.g. RTP Fees Offset scholarship only and/or RTP Fees Offset Scholarship and RTP Stipend and Allowance Scholarship). Selected recipients must accept their RTP Scholarship offer within one month of the date of offer. An RTP Scholarship may be offered to the next meritorious applicant where an offer has not been accepted by the due date.
2.5 All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application after the selection process is complete.
3. Eligibility criteria
3.1 To be eligible for a RTP Stipend, RTP Fees Offset or RTP Allowance a student must be a domestic student or an overseas student accepted or enrolled in an accredited HDR course of study at USC.
3.2 Not have an equivalent qualification to the one for which they are currently applying.
3.3 To be eligible to receive RTP Stipend Scholarship, a student must not be receiving income from another source to support general living costs while undertaking their HDR if that income is greater than 75 per cent of the Research Training Program Stipend rate. Income unrelated to the students HDR or income received for the HDR but not for the purposes of general living costs will not be taken into account.
3.4 To be eligible to receive an RTP Fees Offset, a student must not be receiving an equivalent award or scholarship from the Commonwealth designed to offset HDR fees.
3.5 International students must meet international student visa requirements as specified by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and must comply with the conditions of their student visa.
4. Selection criteria
4.1 Recipients for RTP Scholarships will be selected in order of merit on the following criteria:
4.1.1 Academic qualifications; and
4.1.2 Alignment of the proposed research to one of USC’s areas of research concentration; and
4.1.3 Record of research publications or non-traditional research outputs; and
4.1.4 Professional Research Experience
4.2 Preference is given to applicants who have completed a Bachelor Honours Degree with minimum Class 1, or who are regarded by USC as having an equivalent level of attainment via previous study, relevant work experience, research strength, research publications and other research experience.
5. Period of support (duration)
5.1 The standard duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship is three years for a student undertaking full time Research Doctorate studies, and six years for a student undertaking part-time study.
5.2 The standard duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship is one and a half years for a student undertaking full-time Research Masters studies, and three years for a student undertaking part-time study.
5.3 A recipient who begins as a student in a master level degree and who, before the maximum duration of one and a half years, changes to doctoral level degree, may hold the award for a total of up to three years full-time equivalent.
5.4 Periods of study already undertaken towards the degree prior to the commencement of the scholarship will reduce the duration of the award tenure.
5.5 The duration of a Research Training Program Scholarship will be increased by any periods of unpaid leave or paid sick or maternity leave approved by USC.
5.6 The duration of a Research Training program scholarship will be adjusted by changes between full and part-time candidature. The pro rata equivalent of the remaining standard duration will apply.
5.7 Research Training Program Scholarship recipients may be granted an extension of up to six months where the award holder applies formally to the University, is making satisfactory progress and the grounds for the extension relate to the study that are beyond the control of the student, and where funding is available. Work commitments cannot be accepted as grounds for an extension.
5.8 In exceptional circumstances and where funding allows, Research Training Program Scholarship recipients who are enrolled in a doctoral degree may be granted a second and final extension of up to six months (total extension of 12 months).
6. Scholarship commencement
6.1 Recipients of Research Training Program Scholarships may commence anytime throughout the calendar year of award. Awards cannot be deferred to the following year under any circumstances.
6.2 All stipends will commence as of the day of HDR commencement within the calendar year of the award or a date specified by the university of the year of award for current students.
7. Tuition Fees, Stipend and Allowances
7.1 Tuition fees will automatically be paid each semester for the duration of your scholarship support.
USC’s annual tuition fees are published on the USC website. Visit the Tuition Fees web page and choose your student type (domestic or international) and select the Higher Degrees by Research tab.
7.2.1 The 2021 full-time base stipend is valued at $28,597 per annum. The level of the base stipend will be reviewed annually with no reductions occurring during the standard duration of the scholarship.
7.2.2 Stipend payments are made to the student on a fortnightly basis to their nominated Australian bank account and are tax-free for full-time students.
7.2.3 Part-time stipends rates are 50 per cent the full-time rate and are not tax-free.
An RTP Scholarship Recipient may claim up to a combined total of $2,000 to assist with their costs associated with undertaking their HDR at USC under the following categories:
Where a student must travel a distance greater than 100km to their USC campus of enrollment to commence a Higher Degree by Research on a Research Training Program Scholarship:
- Removal expenses (excluding travel)
- Travel expenses (one way)
- air travel expenses up to a maximum amount equivalent to an economy or student concession airfare, whichever is the lowest amount
- travel by car calculated using a per kilometre rate of allowance as determined by the University and consistent with current University recommended rates up to a maximum amount equivalent to an economy or student concession airfare, whichever is the lowest amount
Claims for the relocation allowance must be made within six months of the date of commencement of the Scholarship. Must display original receipts and supporting documents.
7.3.2 Overseas Student Health Cover
7.3.3 Publication or Thesis Printing
An RTP recipient may apply to be reimbursed for costs associated with academic publication arising from their HDR research, including preparation of the final thesis for examination. Recipients must demonstrate adherence to the Australian Government’s Research Training Program Scholarship” in any publications for which they are claiming reimbursement of costs.
8. Leave/Suspension of Entitlements
Students are entitled to receive up to 20 working days’ paid recreation leave and ten working days paid sick leave for each year of the RTP Stipend. These leave entitlements may be accrued over the life of the RTP Stipend but will be forfeited when the RTP Stipend is terminated.
8.2 Students may receive additional paid sick leave of up to a total of 60 working days during the duration of the RTP Stipend for periods of illness where the student has insufficient sick leave entitlements available under paragraph (8.1), provided that a medical certificate and leave application has been provided by the student to the Graduate Research School within two weeks of returning to study.
8.3 RTP Scholarship recipients who are temporarily unable to continue their studies and wish to suspend their scholarship must apply to the Graduate Research School at least 3 weeks prior to the date from which they seek a period of unpaid leave. The minimum period of suspension is 4 weeks.
8.4 The total period of suspension is normally added to the original tenure of the scholarship. If at any time during the suspension of the scholarship, the student undertakes enrolled study, this period will be deducted from the tenure.
8.6 Students who have completed 12 months of their RTP Stipend are entitled to a maximum of 60 working days paid maternity leave during the duration of the RTP Stipend. Subject to the usual practice of the HEP, paid leave may also be approved if the student has adopted a child.
- Maternity leave must be arranged in advance with a doctor’s certificate attached to a leave form. Paid maternity leave must be taken at the time of birth. Periods of paid maternity leave are in addition to the normal duration of the award. The University will extend an award to compensate for an approved period of maternity leave.
- Additional unpaid maternity leave may be taken through a leave of absence. Scholarship holders who have not completed twelve months of their award may access unpaid maternity leave through the suspension provisions.
8.7 Students who are partners of women giving birth while receiving a RTP Stipend and who have completed 12 months of their RTP Stipend, may be entitled to a period of paid parenting leave at the time of the birth or adoption.
9. Research at other organisations (e.g. Industry Placements)
9.1 The University remains responsible for candidates who are approved to conduct research at another organisation (often in the form of Industry Placements) and must be satisfied that the organisation can provide adequate support, supervision, training and research time for the candidate. The University may approve a request from a recipient to conduct substantial amounts of the research at organisations outside the higher education system. The candidate must notify the Graduate Research School as soon as possible to lodge such a request.
9.2 USC Research Scholarship holders must comply with The Higher Degree by Research Academic Policy and associated Procedures and related documents.
9.3 USC Research Scholarship holders must abide by the conditions of the scholarship outlined in the Scholarship Letter of Offer, USC Research Scholarship Conditions including any addendums.
9.4 USC Research Scholarship holders must apply themselves diligently and to the best of their ability to the successful completion of the degree.
9.5 USC Research Scholarship holders must maintain satisfactory progress. Progress will be reported on annually using the Progress Plan and Review (PPR).
9.6 USC Research Scholarship holders will abide by all relevant legislation on human and animal experimentation and rulings of the ethics committees of the University.
9.7 USC Research Scholarship holders will notify the Graduate Research School promptly of any changes in their circumstances that may affect their eligibility to continue receiving payments under the award.
9.8 USC Research Scholarship holders acknowledge that these Conditions are subject to any further or other conditions, including conditions as to funding of the scholarship, which may be made by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, or any other relevant government body.
9.9 Research Training Program Stipend Scholarship payments will continue where an industry placement, research internship, professional practice activity is undertaken as part of their HDR within the original period of support (duration).
10. Research Topic
10.1 The University may approve a request from a student to change their research topic, provided the proposed change remains aligned with one of USC’s areas of research concentration. When requesting a change to their research topic, students must advise their proposed new Field of Education and Field of Research code.
11. Changes between full and part-time study
11.1 RTP Stipend recipients are expected to prioritise their study and enrol on a full-time basis. Part-time study will be considered on a case-by-case basis for exceptional circumstances such as medical reasons or carer’s responsibilities.
11.2 Where part-time study is approved, the remaining period of support is extended to part-time rate pro rata.
12. Transfer of program
13.1 The University may approve a request from an RTP Scholarship Recipient to transfer program. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, and in addition to matters provided in the relevant Academic Policy, consideration is given to availability of RTP funds to support the change.
13.1 Subject to approval by the University, a full-time student may be permitted to undertake a limited amount of employment, provided that such employment does not interfere with the recipient’s study program. Employment may not exceed 16 hours in any one-week if the RTP Scholarship holder is to retain status as a full-time student.
13.2 Where such employment is as a tutor, (and each contact hour involves additional hours of marking, preparation, interviewing, and administration), the student must include additional duties in the calculation of total weekly work hours.
13.3 Work commitments cannot be accepted as grounds for an extension to or suspension of award.
14. Termination of scholarship
14.1 USC must terminate a Research Training Program Scholarship under the following circumstances:
14.1.1 At the end of the period for which it was granted,
14.1.2 If the student fails to maintain satisfactory progress,
14.1.3 If the student changes their research topic without approval from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) or delegate;
14.1.4 Upon completion of the program,
14.1.5 The submission of the thesis, (an RTP Scholarship will not resume if revision is required following examination)
14.1.6 The death, incapacity, resignation or withdrawal of the student,
14.1.7 The student ceases to be enrolled full-time, with approval not being obtained for the student to hold the award on a part-time basis,
14.1.8 If the course of study is not being carried out with competence and diligence or in accordance with the scholarship offer, and no suitable alternative arrangements can be made for continuation of the postgraduate degree,
14.1.9 If the student does not resume study at the conclusion of a period of leave or does not make arrangements to extend that period of leave, or
14.1.10 If the student accepts another equivalent award, scholarship or salary to undertake their research higher degree that provides a benefit greater than 75 per cent of the base stipend rate and does not suspend their award for the period of the concurrent award, scholarship or salary.
14.1.11 Scholarships may also be terminated (or the student placed on probation) before this time if, after due inquiry, the University forms the view that the student has not complied with any of the conditions contained in this document.
14.1.12 Student s must notify the Graduate Research School of any changes in their enrolment status which may affect their eligibility, or risk termination of the award. Benefits will cease on the date of termination of the award.
14.2 If an RTP Scholarship is terminated, it cannot be re-activated unless the termination occurred in error.
14.3 If an RTP Scholarship recipients may appeal a decision regarding the termination of their scholarship in accordance with the Postgraduate Research Scholarship – Procedures.
15. Specific student obligations
15.1 The relevant policies which govern the scholarship recipient’s degree outline the responsibilities of the University, faculties, supervisors and students.
15.2 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to apply themselves diligently and to the best of their ability to the successful completion of the degree.
15.3 All HDR students shall abide by all relevant legislation on human and animal experimentation and rulings of the ethics committees of the University.
15.4 All HDR student s are required to conform to the regulations, policies (including disciplinary provisions) of the University.
15.5 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to notify the University promptly of any changes in their circumstances that may affect their eligibility to continue receiving payments under the award.
15.6 RTP Scholarship recipients are required to acknowledge the Commonwealth’s contribution when, at any time during or after completion of a HDR, his/her supervisor or any other party, publishes or produces material such as books, articles, newsletters or other literary or artistic works which relate to the research project carried out by the recipient of RTP Scholarship.
15.6.1 Continuing USC students who receive any RTP Scholarship support prior to submission of their final thesis are required to acknowledge the support received through the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship in their final thesis and any publications which relate to the research project carried out with RTP Scholarship support.
15.7 The Acknowledgement must be in a prominent place (e.g. RTP Scholarship Support recipients include the “Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship” in the Acknowledgements section of their thesis).
15.8 Students are also required to acknowledge that these Conditions are subject to any further or other conditions, including conditions as to funding of the awards, which may be made by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, or any other relevant government body.
16. Specific obligations of the University of the Sunshine Coast
16.1 Ensure compliance with the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017, including but not limited to:
16.1.1 Monitor the Period of Support for each RTP Scholarship recipient’s support to ensure maximum durations are not exceeded (two years for research master student s, four years for doctoral students), taking into account periods of approved leave; and
16.1.2 Award RTP Stipend Scholarships only as a result of a publicly available competitive process;
16.1.3 Award RTP Fee Offset Scholarships to international students only as a result of a publicly available competitive process; and
16.1.4 Offer an RTP Scholarship in writing and include advice of the types of assistance and support being offered, the conditions and period of the support, and the estimated annual value of Australia Government support provided for each type of RTP Scholarship support; and
16.1.5 Advise a student receiving and RTP Scholarship of any changes to their RTP Scholarship support.
The University reserves the right to make changes at short notice after publication. RTP Scholarship recipients will be notified in writing to their USC student email address of any changes. To ascertain if any changes have been made to this document after receipt, please contact the Office of Research.
Last updated 11.05.2021.