Understanding your candidature and scholarship
Navigating your research degree can at times be confusing. You may not realise you have many options available to you that may help you manage your candidature and scholarship.
For information on candidature or scholarship matters relating to, or affected by COVID-19, please refer to the Graduate Research Student's section of Monash's COVID-19 online fact sheet. Please ensure you check those pages regularly for the most up to date information.
Managing your scholarship
Understanding the fundamentals of your scholarship(s) could help you avoid unnecessary confusion and stress if at any time your ability to undertake your research is affected.
It is important you know who funds your scholarship and how it works. Knowing this will then help you and others know which set of scholarships terms and conditions are relevant to you. For example, if you hold a centrally allocated scholarship (such as RTP Stipend or Monash Graduate Scholarship), they are governed by Monash's RTP Scholarship Policy and Procedures. A faculty scholarship can often have a different set of conditions attached to them. If you are unsure about what scholarship conditions apply to you, you can find that information within your scholarship offer letter and we recommend you familiarise yourself with them.
All scholarship holders are paid fortnightly. This payment is for 2 weeks study which is equivalent to 10 working days (pro-rata for part time). Many scholarship holders are automatically entitled to four weeks (20 days) of annual leave and two weeks (10 days) of sick leave (pro-rata for part-time students). It is important that you keep your supervisor informed of these particular absences as you do not need to formally apply to take this leave.
Your scholarship may allow for additional periods of leave such as 12 weeks of paid maternity leave (per birth/pregnancy or adoption), 12 weeks of paid sick leave or 5 days of paid parental leave. As these periods of leave will extend the duration of your scholarship, candidature and any future milestones, you need to formally apply for them.
We recommend you familiarise yourself with our Handbook to further learn about expectations and restrictions around any leave requests. Should you find yourself needing to take a break from your research, there are options to take unpaid leave or make further changes to your enrolment.
Some scholarships allow students to apply for extensions. These extensions are approved where research has been delayed due to factors beyond the students control. Your scholarship conditions will indicate what extension options are available to you.
Managing your candidature
There are a number of options available to help support you during any changes or interruptions to your research. Any changes to your enrolment should first be discussed with your supervisory team.
Depending on your course and research project, you may have options that allow you to to convert from full time to part time, or even to convert to external enrolment. If you are considering these types of changes to your enrolment, you should discuss this first with your Faculty to ensure your preferred option is available.
Note that any changes to attendance may impact your scholarship (if you have one). Speak to our Scholarships team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out how any attendance conversion may affect your scholarship.
Applying for study away
Unfortunately, effective 18 March 2020, study away applications (both domestic and international) are not being supported. An update will be provided when we know more.
There are several other leave options available to you in addition to the four weeks of annual leave (pro-rata for part time student) you automatically receive e each year. Though you do not need to formally apply for those four weeks - it is important you keep your supervisor informed.
These following additional leave options however require you to apply:
- Leave of Absence (including sick/carers leave for periods over 10 working days)
Total entitlement is 12 months over the duration of your enrolment
For sick leave of less than 10 working days, you do not need to apply for leave but instead inform your supervisor
- Maternity/Parental Leave (including adoption leave)
12 months per birth/pregnancy or adoption
These entitlements are the same for both full time and part time attendance. When applying, you should also provide supporting documentation. It is also important to know that any successful leave applications will automatically change your future milestones and thesis submission date.
If you are an international student it is important to note that any leave requests must be for compassionate or compelling reasons such as:
- Course progression restrictions or unit unavailability
- Bereavement; medical; COVID19
- Pregnancy/child birth; traumatic personal experience
- Family reasons; home country natural disaster; major home country political upheaval
- Military service obligation; visa refusal/cancellation
If you require leave beyond your maximum entitlement, you may request this in exceptional circumstances. Section 4.1 of the Handbook provides further clarity around these types of leave.
If you are a scholarship holder, please speak to our Scholarships team (email@example.com) to find out how taking leave may affect your scholarship.
You may find you need to request an extension to your current thesis submission due date. Before doing that, make sure you are aware of the Graduate Research Progress Management Procedures (section 8) which outlines your entitlements and examples of acceptable reasons.
Managing your milestones
Milestones are an important part of your enrolment. They help keep you on track and progressing well.
Prior to you milestone due date, both you and your supervisor will receive two milestone reminders. These will occur at three and one month prior to your milestone due date. It is crucial you discuss your milestone requirements and readiness with your supervisor. In addition to the usual requirements, your Faculty may have specific requirements you need to meet.
Your supervisor and Faculty can provide you with assistance in setting up your milestone meeting(s) and panel.
We also recommend you find time to familiarise yourself with the Graduate Research Progress Management Procedures
Sometimes we don't quite achieve what we'd set out to. While that can sometimes feel a bit disheartening, it is actually a great opportunity to re-present your research a second time. If you find that you have been asked to re-present your milestone to a reconvene panel, you will be given a period of time to consider and adjust your work in line with the original feedback provided. The Graduate Research Progress Management Procedures (section 6) speaks more to milestone outcomes.
If you find yourself in a position where you are not quite ready to undertake a milestone, you may be able to apply for an extension.
Before applying however, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Graduate Research Progress Management Procedures (section 4) which outlines what extension entitlements apply to you.
Where else you can find support
As a graduate research student, you are enrolled with us 365 days a year. Monash is here to support you every step of the way.
Frequent communication with your supervisors is crucial. They are here to guide you through your research. There are many ways you can do this whether that be face to face, email, phone or via Zoom/Skype. Your Faculty and Academic Unit are also there to support both you and your supervisors with all aspects of your time at Monash.
Note that if you find yourself needing to make formal changes to your supervisory team, this can be done (following consultation with all team members) by submitting a change of supervisor request.
Monash offers a number of awards and grants to support students. Some of these awards (e.g. Graduate Research Completion Award, Postgraduate Publication Award and Travel Grant) are highly sort after and selection is extremely competitive.
Undertaking a research degree can at times be very stressful. Monash offers a variety of wellbeing and support programs that you may find of benefit to you.