At risk of unsatisfactory performance

We want all our Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) candidates to get the support they need to successfully complete their research program.

It is important to understand that some of the administrative mechanisms we use to achieve this are designed with your best interests in mind.

Why has my candidature been flagged as at risk?

If your candidature has been flagged as at risk of unsatisfactory performance it is a way for us to prioritise your situation and attend to any issues you’re facing with input from your school’s HDR Coordinator. Our aim is to get you back on track with the best support possible.

Your candidature can be flagged at risk of unsatisfactory performance for the reasons listed in section 22 of the Higher Degrees by Research Policy. This classification generally indicates that you are not making progress as required and that you therefore require additional support from your supervisors, school and/or other support services at RMIT.

This is not a punitive process and you should not be concerned about it affecting your academic record. The majority of candidates flagged at risk go on to successfully complete their research degrees without further issues.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your research workload or facing personal issues that are interfering with your ability to work, the University provides a free confidential counselling service.

Who will identify me as at risk?

The School of Graduate Research (SGR) or your school’s HDR Coordinator will advise you that your candidature has been classified at risk, either as an outcome of a formal milestone review process, or on the advice of your senior supervisor.

You can also self-identify as being at risk if you have concerns about your progress and wish to request additional support for your candidature. You should discuss this with your senior supervisor first, as you may be able to address your concerns by reviewing your research plan and developing strategies to assist you with your research without going through the at risk process. You should contact your HDR Coordinator if there are any unresolved issues after discussing your progress with your supervisors.

What are the at risk steps?

If your candidature has been identified as being at risk of unsatisfactory performance you will receive an email to your student email account from your HDR Coordinator inviting you to participate in an at risk meeting within 15 days. Your senior supervisor will also be invited to the meeting.

This meeting is the first stage of helping you to complete your program in a timely way through the development of a detailed action plan to support your candidature that includes clear and transparent goals for your research.

What will happen at the at risk meeting?

The meeting will be attended by you, your senior supervisor, your HDR Coordinator, and in some instances the other members of your supervisory team. If you are at a remote location communication technology can be used to hold the meeting.

You may have a support person at the meeting and you can also seek support and advice from RMIT University Student Union (RUSU) Student Rights service and/or any other relevant support services before the meeting.

The focus of the meeting will be on what is needed to help you recover satisfactory progress with your research.

What will happen if I don’t participate in an at risk meeting?

If you do not attend or participate in an at risk meeting that you have been invited to, the meeting will be held without you. A Candidate Action and Support Plan will be developed and emailed to you after the meeting so that you can complete the action plan with your supervisory team.

It is not recommended that you not participate – the at risk process is designed to put additional support in place to assist you and failing to take advantage of this support may result in a referral to a Research Candidate Progress Committee (RCPC).

Candidate action and support plan

The outcome of the at risk meeting is recorded in a Candidate action and support plan (CASP) (PDF 125KB). You will use the recommendations in your CASP as a basis to develop your own detailed action plan.

Your action plan will outline a clear set of concrete actions, deliverables and timelines, not just for you, but for all parties involved in your research, including members of your supervisory team. It should also include any support that your school may need to provide and referrals to other RMIT services that may be assistance. The plan must be approved by your supervisor before being incorporated into your CASP.

The timeframe for your CASP is usually between four weeks and six months. At the end of this period your progress is reassessed by the school HDR Coordinator, with advice from your senior supervisor.

Meeting the requirements of your CASP

If you meet the requirements outlined in your CASP and action plan to the satisfaction of your HDR Coordinator within the agreed timeframe your at risk classification is removed.

If you do not meet the requirements of your CASP within the CASP timeframe, and have not discussed any extenuating circumstances with your HDR Coordinator and supervisory team, your HDR Coordinator must recommend a classification of established unacceptable academic progress and refer you to a Research Candidate Progress Committee (RCPC).

If your school, or members of your supervisory team, have failed to fulfil their requirements as outlined in your CASP, you should discuss this with your HDR Coordinator, and if you are attending an RCPC meeting, document this in your written submission. You may also have grounds to lodge a complaint. If you would like more information about the complaints process at RMIT, please visit student complaints.