This post provides an at-a-glance briefing on the new Commonwealth Scholarship Guidelines (Research) 2017[1]. The new legislation replaces the existing Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines 2012[2], and is effective from 1st January 2017.

The legislation implements recommendations of the Watt Review[3] foreshadowed by the federal government’s Innovation Agenda[4] that relate to research training.

The legislation introduces the new Research Training Program (RTP) which integrates arrangements for research training including the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) schemes.

The RTP makes a number of important changes as follows:

  1. Restrictions on part-time scholarship holders have been removed (Section 1.5 Student Eligibility Requirements);
  2. The scholarship duration has been increased from 3 years EFT to 3 – 4 (max) for EFT PhD students (Section 1.6.5 Period of Support)
  3. Rather than a flat rate an upper and lower limit have been set allowing flexible stipend rates (Section 1.6.10 RTP Stipend Base and Maximum Value)
  4. There is a weighting attached to funding for indigenous student completions (Section 1.4.10 Weightings applying to HDR student completions)
  5. Scholarships are standardised for domestic and international postgraduates
  6. The range of purposes for which the grant money may be provided by an institution now includes tuition fees, living and ancillary costs (Section 1.6.1 Expenditure of RTP Grant Amounts)

Based on these changes the new legislation is probably one of the most significant steps forward since the original Research Training Scheme (RTS) was introduced.

It is important to note that other than slight adjustments to wording, many other parts of the guidelines have not been significantly altered, for instance Section 1.6.15 Leave Entitlements for RTP Stipend recipients and Section 1.6.45 RTP Scholarship Policy which retains things like provisions for supervision and facilities requirements.

An article published in the Australian on Wednesday 19th October 2016 also has more information: