Research Training Program

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For students: The Research Training Program (RTP) is administered by individual universities on behalf of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Applications for RTP Scholarships need to be made directly to participating universities. Each university has its own application and selection process, please contact your chosen university directly to discuss how to apply for the RTP scheme. 

Information on commencing a postgraduate research degree and university courses can be found on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website. General information about the support arrangements for students may be obtained from the Study Assist website. Frequently asked questions for students are also available. 

For university administrators: Frequently asked questions for university administrators are available. 

Overview 

The RTP provides block grants, on a calendar year basis, to HEPs to support both domestic and overseas students undertaking Research Doctorate and Research Masters degrees, known as higher degrees by research (HDRs).

The objectives of the RTP scheme are to:

  • provide flexible funding arrangements to support the training of domestic students and overseas students undertaking HDRs at Australian HEPs
  • deliver graduates with the skills required to build careers in academia and other sectors of the labour market
  • support collaboration between HEPs and industry and other research end-users
  • support overseas students undertaking HDR studies at Australian HEPs.

Students can be offered RTP scholarships for one or more of the following:

  • tuition fees offset
  • stipend for general living costs
  • allowances related to the ancillary cost of research degrees.

RTP scholarships are available to domestic and overseas students enrolled in an accredited HDR course at an Australian HEP. RTP scholarships are available for a maximum period of two years for a research masters. Under temporary arrangements being enacted in 2020 to reduce impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this maximum period is being extended to two years and six months (full-time students), at the discretion of HEPs.

RTP scholarships are available for a research doctorate degree for a minimum of three years, up to a maximum of four years, at the discretion of the HEP. Under temporary arrangements being enacted in 2020 to reduce impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this maximum period is being extended to four years and six months (full-time students), at the discretion of HEPs.

Growing industry internships for research PhD students through the Research Training Program

Through the 2021-2022 Budget, the Government is refocusing the Research Training Program (RTP) to reward universities for research PhD (also referred to as research doctorate) students that graduate having undertaken a three-month industry internship, commencing within the first 18 months of enrolment.

A new weighting of 2.0 will be incorporated into the existing higher degree by research (HDR) completions weightings within the current RTP funding allocation formula. This new weighting will increase the amount of RTP funding a university receives for each research doctorate student who graduates with an internship that meets these thresholds. The new weightings are outlined in the table below.

New RTP weightings with research PhD internship weighting

Degree completion type Non-Indigenous student Indigenous student
High-cost Research Doctorate, no internship 4.7 9.4
Low-cost Research Doctorate, no internship 2.0 4.0
High-cost Research Doctorate with internship* 6.7 11.4
Low-cost Research Doctorate with internship* 4.0 6.0
High-cost Research Masters 2.35 4.7
Low-cost Research Masters 1.0 2.0

*Includes additional 2.0 weighting.
Research Masters weightings remain unchanged. 

The new RTP weightings will be partially reflected in 2024 RTP funding allocations and fully reflected in 2025 allocations.  

Implementation paper released for feedback

Interested parties are now invited to provide feedback on implementation arrangements for the new RTP weighting. Policy parameters, eligibility criteria, and design elements of proposed changes to reporting HDR end-user engagement data are outlined in the Growing industry internships for research PhD students through the Research Training Program implementation paper, with focused questions to guide feedback.

Feedback can be submitted through a Qualtrics survey link included in the paper, due by Friday 6 August 2021. Late submissions will not be accepted without prior written approval.

Questions regarding the new measure or the submission of feedback on the implementation paper can be directed to RBGrants@dese.gov.au.

Temporary measures for the Research Training Program during the coronavirus pandemic 

The Government is enacting two temporary measures to provide funding certainty to higher education providers (HEPs) and more flexibility to support students with RTP scholarships. 

  1. RTP scholarship extensions 

RTP scholarships can currently be provided for a period of between three and four years for Research Doctorate students and up to two years for Research Masters students. Temporary measures will allow HEPs to provide students with RTP scholarship extensions of up to six months for students whose research activities have been materially adversely impacted by coronavirus restrictions. This new provision will only be available to current students, enrolled as at 1 March 2020, and at the discretion of HEPs. This will enable HEPs to support eligible research doctorate students for a maximum period of four years and six months and research masters students for up to two years and six months. 

  1. Extension of the transitional arrangements 

The current research block grants transitional arrangements are scheduled to cease at the end of 2020. The arrangements for RTP consist 75 per cent of RTP funding is based on a HEP’s previous year’s allocations, with the remaining 25 per cent determined by applying the funding formulae. These transitional arrangements will be extended by 12 months until 31 December 2021. 

More information can be found in the frequently asked questions to assist students and university administrators

Guidelines, conditions and calculations

Australian government funding is provided through annual block grants to eligible Australian HEPs in accordance with section 46-20 of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA). 

The Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017 provides the legislative basis for the provision of funding to this program and prescribes the conditions that apply to RTP Grant Amounts. 

The 2021 RTP grant amounts to participating providers is based on a formula that is reflective of their overall research performance. 

A detailed guide to calculating RTP grant amounts is available. 

RTP Stipend Rates 

Each year, the range for RTP stipend rates for the following year will be announced by 1 October. The RTP stipend rate range is effective from 1 January. The table below details current and recent RTP stipend rates. 

RTP Stipend Rates 

Year Full-time base RTP stipend rate ($) Full-time max RTP stipend rate ($)
2021 28,597 44,674
2020 28,092 43,885
2019 27,596 43,110

Historical stipend rates for post graduate research scholarships are also available.

Application process 

Universities are responsible for the application and selection processes for RTP Scholarships, so prospective candidates will need to contact their chosen university's postgraduate research office directly to discuss how to apply. The list of eligible universities is available in Table A and B of the Higher Education Support Act 2003

HDR Grievance Factsheet 

The department has released a factsheet designed to assist HDR students, including RTP Scholarship recipients, to navigate the different avenues available to pursue a grievance in regards to internal university issues. 

Contact 

For more information, refer to the frequently asked questions for students or email RBGrants@dese.gov.au with "RTP" as the subject line.