Research Training Program FAQs for research candidates

The Research Training Program (RTP) is a single flexible pool of funding to support both domestic and international research candidates undertaking a Higher Degree by Research (HDR) at RMIT.

As of 1 January 2017, the RTP replaced the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) and the Research Training Scheme (RTS) funding for HDR places.

Find out more about the RTP.

Types of scholarship support

What forms of support can RTP recipients receive?

Section 1.6.1 of the legislation states that a university must only provide one or more of the following types of support to an RTP Scholarship recipient:

  • An RTP Fee Offset place:
    • For international HDR candidates, this effectively pays for the tuition fees that might otherwise have been paid by the candidate. This requires that a university fully offsets any tuition fee applicable for a candidate. This is not a stipend.
    • For domestic candidates, this is a contribution by the government to the costs incurred by the university in the provision of research training programs to Australian and New Zealand citizens and is provided for the maximum duration of the research program only. It is allocated to the university and is not a stipend that is paid directly to research candidates.
  • An RTP Stipend to assist candidates with their living costs while undertaking a higher degree by research.
  • An RTP Allowance to assist candidates who are in receipt of a stipend with ancillary costs of a higher degree by research. This includes relocation costs to undertake a research degree and health cover costs for international candidates and their dependents.

Value and duration

What are RTP Fee Offset and Stipend Scholarships worth at RMIT?

RTP Fee Offset

In 2017 the average value of the contribution that the government will make to each fee offset scholarship at RMIT is $14,000 per effective full-time enrolment. This amount contributes to the total costs that the university incurs in providing HDR supervisor costs such as salary and on-costs, HDR research projects costs such as lab equipment, field trips, access to external equipment and facilities, contributions towards HDR industry placements, commercialisation skills training costs, travel, accommodation and conference costs and HDR course development. An RTP Fee Offset is not a stipend and is not paid directly to a candidate.

Stipend Scholarships

In 2017 the annual stipend rate is $30,000 per annum.

What are RTP Stipend recipients entitled to?

Stipend recipients receive an annual stipend to assist with general living costs.

The RTP stipend rate is effective from 1 January 2017 and will be updated every year. The RMIT 2017 RTP stipend rate will be $30,000 per annum and will be varied pro rata if you commence after 1 January or if your candidature is suspended or terminated in that year.

What is the duration of my RTP Scholarship?

RTP Fee Offset scholarships are provided for a maximum of 4 years (full-time student load) for PhD candidates and two years for Master by Research candidates.

RTP Stipend and RTP International Tuition Fee scholarships are provided for a minimum of three years (full-time student load) for PhD candidates and 2 years for Master by Research candidates.

RMIT may also approve an extension to the duration of an RTP Stipend and RTP International Tuition Fee scholarship for a PhD candidate of up to six months provided the candidate is making satisfactory academic progress and the grounds for the extension relate to the study and are beyond the control of the candidate. RMIT cannot approve extensions to the duration of a research scholarship for a Master by Research candidate.

Application

How do I apply for an RTP place at RMIT?

The How to Apply page provides details on how you can apply for an RTP-supported research degree at RMIT.

Applications for RTP Stipend and RTP International Tuition Fee Scholarships in Semester 1 2017 have closed and key dates and deadlines for Semester 2 2017 will be available shortly.

Can I apply for an RTP place at more than one university, or more than once at the same university?

There are no restrictions that prevent you from applying for an RTP place at more than one university, or more than once at the same university.

Eligibility

Am I eligible to apply for an RTP Fee Offset or Stipend Scholarship?

Section 1.5 of the legislation covers the basic eligibility requirements to receive an RTP Stipend, RTP Fee Offset or RTP Allowance.

Note: There is a cap of 10 per cent on the amount of RTP funding that can be used to support international candidates.

RMIT scholarship guidelines provide additional information about eligibility requirements.

I am an international research candidate. Am I eligible for the RTP?

Yes. The RTP provides block grants to universities to support the research training of both domestic and international candidates undertaking higher degree by research. However the university is limited in the proportion of the RTP that can be expended on international candidates, hence the number of stipends and fee offset scholarships available for international candidates is significantly less than those available to domestic candidates. Consequently fee offsets and stipends for international candidates are competitively allocated on the basis of academic merit and strategic alignment.

I have not attained a Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours. Am I eligible for an RTP place?

Find out more about the academic entry requirements for RMIT's Doctor of Philosophy and Master by Research.

If you meet the entry requirements, you can apply for an RTP Fee Offset place.

RMIT’s current eligibility criteria for an RTP Stipend require the applicant to hold a first class honours degree or have demonstrated equivalent experience. RMIT may consider previous study, relevant work experience, research publications, referees' reports and other research experience. Ultimately the application, selection, and offer process for the RTP is at the discretion of RMIT.

Am I eligible for RTP support if I have previously completed a higher degree by research?

At RMIT, the following restrictions apply to all RTP scholarships:

  • if undertaking a research masters, a scholarship applicant must not hold a research doctorate or a research masters or an equivalent research qualification;
  • if undertaking a research doctorate, a scholarship applicant must not hold a research doctorate or an equivalent research qualification. The only exception to this rule is that Australian and New Zealand candidates undertaking a second PhD are eligible for the RTP Fee Offset scholarship only.

Am I eligible for an RTP scholarship if I am enrolling in a coursework degree?

No. To qualify for an RTP place you must be undertaking a higher degree by research (research doctorate or research masters) for which at least two-thirds of your time should be spent on research work at an approved university.

Coursework degrees do not qualify as a higher degree by research (refer to the definition of HDR in Section i.v.ii of the legislation).

Am I eligible for RTP support if I choose to undertake a research doctorate or research masters degree at an overseas university?

No. To be eligible for the RTP you must be enrolled at an approved Australian university.

I have received an RTS place or RTP Fee Offset place in the past, however withdrew from the degree prior to completion. Am I eligible for another RTP place?

Candidates who have previously received support from the RTP or RTS scheme are not prevented from applying.

In determining its selection process, a university may consider previous academic experience as a factor. Ultimately the application, selection, and offer process for the RTP is at the discretion of RMIT.

Transition arrangements

I was receiving support in the form of the Australian Postgraduate Award, International Postgraduate Research Scholarship or a Research Training Scheme (RTS) place. How is my scholarship affected by the introduction of the RTP?

While your scholarship changed in name, all your entitlements are not affected.

Section 1.6.50 of the legislation states that a university must offer each continuing student an RTP Scholarship in a form that does not disadvantage the continuing student and provides at least equivalent support to that provided, or that would have been provided, through previous Australian government programs.

Further information on how each form of scholarship recipient will be transitioned to the RTP can be found in Section 1.6.50 Arrangements for Continuing Students.

Conditions of the RTP

I am in receipt of an RTP Stipend. Can I receive another scholarship or award related to my current course of study?

Candidates are not prevented from applying for additional financial support or awards.

However under Section 1.5 (2), a candidate needs to be aware that, to continue to be eligible for an RTP Stipend place, they must not be in receipt of an equivalent award, scholarship or salary related to their course of study that provides a benefit greater than 75%, pro rata, of their annual RTP stipend rate.

What can I do if I receive another scholarship or award related to my current course of study that is greater than 75% of my annual RTP stipend rate?

If a candidate is awarded an additional scholarship or award to undertake their degree, only the pro rata amount of the stipend component of the scholarship or award will be taken into account to determine if the value of the award exceeds 75% of the annual RTP stipend amount.

If you think this condition may apply, you should contact the Admissions and Scholarships team at the School of Graduate Research for further advice, which may include the option of suspending your RTP scholarship.

I am receiving an RTP and working part-time in a job unrelated to my studies. How much can I earn through paid employment?

RMIT permits domestic scholarship holders to undertake a limited amount of part-time paid employment which is unrelated to their research topic. The University recommends that candidates enrolled in a higher degree by research on a full-time basis do not undertake more than eight hours of paid employment per week during normal working hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). Anything over and above these hours must be approved by the senior supervisor/joint supervisor and Dean/Head of School. There is no limit on how much income an awardee can receive from part-time work which is unrelated to their research topic.

International candidates with a student visa who are receiving a stipend scholarship may undertake work unrelated to their course requirements:
(a) consistent with the conditions of the student visa; and
(b) by obtaining the approval of RMIT prior to undertaking such work.

Is the RTP stipend considered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as taxable income?

Based on published information from the Australian Tax Office on similar scholarships, part-time stipends will continue to be taxable and fee offsets for part-time candidates will continue to be tax free.

This is based on the ATO class ruling (CR 2003/84) which considered the offering by Bond University of PhD Research Scholarships comprising a stipend for living costs and a tuition fee waiver. The ruling was clear that fee waivers were not considered income.

Given the strong parallels with the ruling and RTP arrangements in the legislation, our understanding is that RTP Fee Offset and RTP International Tuition Fee scholarships will not constitute income and will therefore not be subject to income tax.

The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training therefore expects that the arrangements in place for RTP Fee Offset, Stipend and Allowances will have no additional impact on part-time candidates compared to the former Research Training Scheme, International Postgraduate Scholarships and the Australian Postgraduate Awards schemes.

Note all candidates are responsible for ensuring they comply with their tax liabilities.

Can I take leave whilst receiving RTP support?

Yes. Leave entitlements include recreation, sick and parental leave entitlements.

The application of leave entitlements are detailed in the RMIT Research Scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 279KB 10p).

Can I transfer to another university and keep my RTP support?

A candidate may transfer from one university to another university, subject to the new university accepting the candidate and agreeing to the continuation of the RTP. There is no transfer of funding between providers so the new university must have sufficient RTP funds available to support the candidate.

Ultimately the decision to grant approval for the transfer of an RTP candidate, and the process by which this is managed, is at the discretion of the two universities in question.