Higher degrees by research - Supervision policy
This policy sets out for all research supervisors the responsibilities associated with supervision of a Higher Degree by Research HDR candidate at RMIT University.
Applicable to all RMIT staff members who supervise or seek to supervise HDR candidates including people appointed as external supervisors or consultants.
Research supervisors of students enrolled in undergraduate and coursework programs, including Honours.
RMIT will ensure that all higher degree research students are provided with a suitably qualified senior supervisor and at least one other supervisor, and receive adequate supervision throughout their candidature to support the successful completion of their candidature within the required time, provided the candidate meets the requirements of their candidature. All candidates will have appropriate access to their supervisor and opportunities to seek guidance, raise issues and receive timely feedback on their research. Higher degree research supervision will be conducted in accordance with the HDR Supervision Procedure and the HDR Supervisor Registration Procedure.
1. General Principles
This policy prescribes requirements and responsibilities of HDR candidate supervision at RMIT University
The policy provides clarification to staff and HDR candidates about the role of supervisors at the University and their responsibilities for supporting HDR candidature.
The University is committed to providing high quality research supervision to HDR candidates and is required to adhere to the Higher Education Standards Framework. In order to achieve this:
- The Dean/Head of School 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 their nominee, who will be the HDR Coordinator (or equivalent position) for the school;
- The roles and responsibilities of supervisors are prescribed by the RMIT ‘Code of practice for Higher Degrees by Research’;
- Supervisors are required to have an appropriate higher degree or equivalent, be classified as research active, and be registered on the RMIT University supervisor register before they can be allocated to candidates;
- Supervisors are required to engage in ongoing professional development;
- Supervisors are allocated on the basis of their expertise in the discipline area of the HDR candidate;
- Deans/Heads of school are responsible for ensuring that supervisors have sufficient capacity in their workload to provide adequate support for each candidate
This policy and its associated procedures prescribe the academic and administrative requirements of supervising candidates enrolled in HDR programs at RMIT by:
- Prescribing the means of supervisor registration and allocation to ensure a consistent, fair and transparent process for providing the HDR candidate appropriate supervisory support to facilitate the successful completion of the degree
- Establishing the requirement for regular reviews of supervisor eligibility and performance
- Providing details of the initial and ongoing professional development requirements for supervisors
- Outlining the contribution of supervision time and expertise provided to a HDR candidate to assist them with the successful completion of their degree
2. Supervisor Responsibilities
Supervisors are responsible for advising and guiding the candidate in the conduct of their research program by:
a) supporting the candidate to develop their research project so that it is of the quality and standard required by the specific degree requirements (Masters and Doctoral awards) and within the discipline or field with due regard to the length of candidature for the relevant degree;
b) developing the candidate’s capacity for independent research and scholarship;
c) facilitating the candidate’s development of skills, capacities and attributes consistent with the AQF learning outcomes specified for Level 9 (Masters) and Level 10 (Doctoral) qualifications; and
d) inducting candidates into scholarly, research and professional communities and activities, such as conference presentations and writing research publications.
The supervisory role is hence a pedagogic and collaborative one, and will include advice and guidance on how candidates can:
a) develop and enhance their research knowledge;
b) develop their research and generic skills, qualities and capabilities; and
c) disseminate their research in ways appropriate to the discipline or field, such as publication or exhibition.
3. Supervision arrangements
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 with another Joint Senior Supervisor. One or more Associate Supervisors can also be involved in the supervision of the candidate.
The Dean/Head of School must take all reasonable actions to ensure that Senior and Joint Senior Supervisors will normally be available throughout the period of the candidature and that appropriate arrangements are made for the supervision of candidates in the event of the absence of one or more supervisors during periods of leave.
Changes to supervision arrangements may be made in the course of candidature. A request for a change of supervision or notification for the need for a change of supervision (in the event of staff departures or leave) may be initiated by either the candidate or Senior Supervisor/s and normally requires the consent of both parties. For the change of supervisor to be processed the endorsement of the Dean/HOS (or nominee) is required and final approval is given by SGR.
4. Eligibility requirements for HDR supervision
In accordance with the Higher Education Standards Framework - Provider Course Accreditation Standards, all Senior and Joint Senior Supervisors must hold a Doctoral qualification (or be formally deemed equivalent) and must be actively carrying out research and publishing in the relevant disciplinary area.
Associate Supervisors must hold a Doctoral or Research Masters qualification (or be formally deemed equivalent) in order to supervise.
Normally supervisors who have had their professional experience recognised for the purposes of PhD equivalency and are currently enrolled in a higher degree by research will not be candidates for the same level of degree for which the candidate is enrolled.
The research activity requirements for supervisors are articulated in the HDR Supervisor Registration Procedure.
All Senior Supervisors of higher degree by research candidates must be members of staff of RMIT and must have accreditation on the Supervisor Register with the appropriate classification. The Senior Supervisor(s) must advise and assist candidates as appropriate in meeting the requirements for successfully completing their candidature milestone reviews and the timely submission of their research for examination and is responsible for the endorsement of compliance and administrative matters including changes to candidature and application for leave.
No person external to RMIT or employed on a casual basis will be assigned to candidates as a sole Senior Supervisor. Non-staff, such as Adjunct Professors, may partner with RMIT staff as Joint Senior Supervisor but the administrative responsibilities reside with the RMIT staff member.
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.
5. Professional Development for HDR Supervisors
All RMIT staff members who are supervisors for RMIT Masters or PhD candidates must have completed the HDR policy and procedures induction and must also participate in ongoing HDR Supervision professional development
More details about the criteria for registration in the different categories of the register are available in the Higher Degrees by Research supervisor registration procedure.[Next: Supporting documents and information ]