Briefing Papers

2002 – Implementing the Research Training Scheme: The consequences for postgraduate research students

26 Jul 02

Attachment: CAPA Paper

The introduction of the Research Training Scheme (RTS) has placed considerable pressure on Australian universities to improve the proportion of enrolled postgraduate research students who complete their degrees (completion rates), and to shorten the amount of time they take to do so (completion times). Universities have revised or introduced a variety of policies in order to encourage timely completions. A wealth of information on university strategies to encourage timely completion can be found in the annual Research and Research Training Management Reports (RRTMR) which universities must submit to the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) in order to fulfil the reporting requirements of the Scheme. While in many cases it is still too early to assess the impact of these policies on postgraduate research students, early indicators can be found both within university RRTMRs, and from the feedback of postgraduate student associations.

This paper provides information on the RTS for postgraduate student association office bearers or staff members who may be unfamiliar with the Scheme. It also analyses the RRTMRs of the 38 Australian public universities and identifies broad trends in terms of universities’ responses to the RTS. The intention is to provide postgraduate student associations with more detailed knowledge of the variety of university policy responses to the Scheme, and to discuss the positive or negative effects of these policies on postgraduate research students. It is hoped that this will assist postgraduate student associations to support the implementation of more ‘research-student-friendly’ policies at their universities, as well as alert them to the potential dangers of other policies.