University of Sydney Handbooks - 2013 Archive

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Research Training Scheme

The Research Training Scheme (RTS), administered by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE), provides course fee exemptions for eligible higher degree by research (HDR) students for the duration of an accredited HDR course, up to a maximum of four years full-time equivalent study for a doctorate by research (including a professional doctorate which meets the research program criteria), and two years’ full-time equivalent study for a master's by research. RTS students may be enrolled full-time or part-time.

A different funding arrangement may apply to students who commenced their candidature prior to September 2000.

It is expected that students registered for HDR complete their studies within their maximum entitlement period, and the RTS guidelines stipulate that research students who are granted an extension beyond their maximum entitlement can no longer be funded by the Commonwealth.

When any HDR student (including pre-2001 students) withdraws from their studies, the following outcomes apply if, at a later date, the student resumes study in the same course or another course at the same level:

  • If three years have elapsed since previous enrolment, the student may be granted the maximum period allowed for the course under the RTS.
  • If less than three years have elapsed since the previous enrolment, the student will have the period of any prior enrolment deducted from the maximum period allowed for the course under the RTS. This restriction applies even if the student enrols at a different institution.

RTS students may have a period of suspension (or accumulated periods) of up to 12 months within the terms of RTS (beyond which approval is at the discretion of the University). Periods of suspension do not count as consumption of RTS entitlement.

Where a student completes a research master's and progresses to a doctorate, the entitlement is two years’ maximum for the masters and four years’ maximum for the doctorate study. This applies whether or not there is an interval between the two programs. (If the research master's is completed in less than two years, the maximum RTS entitlement for a doctorate remains set at four years.)

Where a student commences but does not complete a research master's and then successfully upgrades to a research doctorate, the RTS funding entitlement is limited to a maximum of four years. Similarly, if a student is required (for any reason, academic or personal) to downgrade from doctorate to master's, and has already held an RTS place for more than two years at that point in time, no further Commonwealth funding is available.

RTS students may transfer to another institution, provided there is an RTS place available. The assumption is that a transferring student’s research would either be continued or modified to meet the requirements of the new institution; the student’s enrolment details and remaining RTS entitlement are part of the transfer.