Supervision arrangements policy process


To define the processes for appointing and replacing HDR supervisors and supervisory teams.


Supervisors of Honours and postgraduate coursework students.

Process steps

1. Allocation of supervisors

1.1. The Dean/Head of School/Centre will be accountable for the allocation of supervisors to candidates and the oversight of supervision performance and may choose to delegate aspects of their authority to the HDR Coordinator (or equivalent position) for the School/Centre.

1.2. In allocating supervisors to candidates they must ensure that:

1.2.1. supervisors have sufficient supervisory capacity in their workload to provide high quality support, and relevant experience in the research topic, for each proposed candidate;

1.2.2. there is no potential or actual conflict of interest between the candidate and members of the supervisory team, or between members of the supervisory team;

1.2.3. Senior and Joint Senior Supervisors will normally be available for the full period of candidature;

1.2.4. if a supervisor is enrolled in an HDR program, that there is adequate separation of the research topics of the supervisor and their candidate/s.

1.3. Applicants for HDR programs are required to nominate potential supervisors on their HDR application form after discussion with the HDR Coordinator, who will assist in the identification of suitable supervisors; it is expected that some discussion with prospective supervisor/s will precede the admission of the candidate. Initial supervisory arrangements will be endorsed by the Dean/Head of School/Centre and approved by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training and Development as a condition of offer.

1.4. Every HDR candidate will be allocated at least two supervisors. The role of Senior supervisor can be held by one RMIT staff member or shared equally with another Joint Senior Supervisor. One or more Associate supervisors can also be involved in the supervision of the candidate.

1.5. Allocation of the candidate’s supervisory team must be finalised before an offer of admission can be made.

1.6. New Senior supervisors without an HDR completion are to be mentored in the role by an experienced supervisor (with at least one HDR completion as Senior supervisor) by entering a Joint Senior Supervision arrangement until successful confirmation of candidate or other candidature milestone, at which time the supervisory arrangements may be revised.

2. Supervisory teams

2.1. Schedule 4 of the Higher Degrees by Research Policy: Supervisor Registration Requirements (PDF) defines the roles, responsibilities and relative contributions of each type of supervisor.

2.2. The relative weightings of the roles of any supervisors allocated to an HDR candidate are recorded on the HDR candidate database. The total load for supervisory teams will be 100%.

2.3. In Joint Senior supervision arrangements one Joint Senior Supervisor (JSS) will normally take responsibility for administrative and compliance matters. This JSS must be an RMIT staff member.

2.4. In the case of Joint Senior Supervisors, one is recorded as primary supervisor for the purposes of candidature management. Any major decisions concerning direction of the candidature would require the agreement of both JSS.

2.5. All members of a supervisory team receive full recognition for HDR candidates who successfully complete while under their supervision. Completions are recorded in the research management database and count toward research active measures, such as for the purposes of supervisor registration.

2.6. Where a candidate’s research program is pursued at or in partnership with another approved organisation, a Joint or Associate supervisor associated with the organisation in which the research is carried out shall be appointed.

3. Supervisory workload

3.1. A minimum of one hour per week must be allocated for the supervision of full time candidates and half an hour for part time candidates.

4. Replacement/change of supervisor

4.1. Candidates or HDR Coordinators may initiate a change to supervisory arrangements at any time. It is the responsibility of the Dean/Head of School/Centre (or nominee) to identify a replacement supervisor in these circumstances.

4.2. Changes to supervisory teams or supervision weightings can only be processed by the School of Graduate Research on receipt of a duly completed and authorised Change of Supervisor form (PDF).

4.3. Supervisors must give advance notice (at least two months) to the HDR Coordinator in their school if they are taking leave or changing their employment arrangements and will not be in a position to undertake continuing supervision of their candidates.

4.4. If a supervisor ceases to meet the requirements for continuing supervision or is not available to supervise a candidate for a period exceeding six weeks, and no alternative arrangements have been made, the Dean/Head of School/Centre or their nominee must put in place an alternative supervisory arrangement for approval by SGR, in consultation with the candidate. Alternative arrangements may include:

4.4.1. The appointment of a short-term replacement supervisor for a specified period; this arrangement should normally apply in the absence of a Senior supervisor.

4.4.2. The re-weighting of roles of other supervisors or members of the supervisory team to ensure continued support for the candidate during this period.

4.4.3. In the absence of the Senior supervisor the Joint Senior Supervisor or Associate supervisor shall be allocated responsibility for ensuring the candidate's compliance with the Higher Degrees by Research Policy and processes. The exception to this is when the Joint Senior Supervisor is a non-staff member, in which case an alternative Joint Senior Supervisor will need to be appointed who is an RMIT staff member.

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