Research Training Program

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Overview

The Research Training Program (RTP) provides block grants, on a calendar year basis, to higher education providers (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.

Research masters students – period of support

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 2 years for a research masters degree. Under temporary arrangements enacted in 2020 to reduce impacts of COVID-19, this maximum period was extended to 2 years and 6 months (full-time students), at the discretion of HEPs.

Research doctorate students – period of support

RTP Scholarships are available for a research doctorate degree for a minimum of 3 years, up to a maximum of 4 years, at the discretion of the HEP.  Under temporary arrangements enacted in 2020 to reduce impacts of COVID-19, this maximum period was extended to 4 years and 6 months (full-time students), at the discretion of HEPs.

RTP funding is administered by individual HEPs who each have their own application and selection process. Students need to contact their chosen provider directly to discuss how to apply for the RTP scheme.

 RTP Frequently Asked Questions for students are available.

Information on commencing a postgraduate research degree HDR courses can be found on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website. General information about support arrangements that may be available to students can be viewed at the StudyAssist website.

For HEP administrators, RTP Frequently Asked Questions for administrators are available.

Research Training Program industry internship weighting

Through the 2021-2022 Budget, the Government announced the introduction of a RTP internship weighting. A weighting of 2.0 will be incorporated into the existing HDR completions weightings within the current RTP funding allocation formula. This will apply to each research doctorate student reported from 2022 as completing their course having undertaken an eligible industry internship. Eligible industry internships are at least 3 months long, consist of 60 full-time equivalent days of engagement, and are agreed in written form with a research end-user within 18 months of course commencement for a full-time student, or within 36 months for a part-time student.

HEPs, research doctorate students, and research end-users, have the flexibility to decide on optimal arrangements for each industry internship within the eligibility criteria, including the timing for their commencement.

Research doctorate student completion data collected from 2022 will be used in 2024 RTP funding calculation and allocation processes onwards.

This incentive will drive early engagement between industry, HEPs and research doctorate students, and will strengthen links between the latest research and industry innovation. It will also open a pipeline of highly skilled research doctorate students for employment in industry based, non-academic roles.

HEPs will continue to receive RTP funding for each research doctorate completion, irrespective of whether they have undertaken an industry internship. However, the additional 2.0 RTP weighting will only be allocated where an eligible industry internship has been undertaken.

Frequently asked questions are available on the RTP industry internship weighting page .

Temporary measure for the Research Training Program to address COVID-19 challenges

The Government enacted a temporary measure to enable HEPs to extend RTP periods of support by up to 6 months.

RTP Scholarships can currently be provided for a period of between 3 and 4 years for research doctorate students and up to 2 years for research masters students. The COVID-19 relief measure allows HEPs to provide students with RTP Scholarship extensions of up to 6 months for students whose research activities have been materially adversely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This new provision is only available to current students, enrolled as at 1 March 2020, and at the discretion of HEPs. This enables HEPs to support eligible research doctorate students for a maximum period of 4 years and 6 months and research masters students for up to 2 years and 6 months.

More information can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions to assist students and administrators.

Guidelines, conditions and calculations

Australian Government funding is provided through annual research 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  provide the legislative basis for the provision of funding to this program and prescribes the conditions that apply to RTP grant amounts.

The 2022 RTP grant amounts allocated 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.

Research Training Program 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 ($) Full-time max RTP stipend rate ($)
2023 29,863 46,653
2022 28,854 45,076
2021 28,597 44,674

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

Application process

HEPs are responsible for the application and selection processes for RTP Scholarships. Prospective candidates need to contact their chosen HEP’s postgraduate research office directly to discuss how to apply. The list of eligible HEPs is available in Table A and B of HESA.

HDR grievance factsheet

The HDR grievance factsheet provides information for HDR students, including RTP Scholarship recipients, on  the different avenues available to pursue a grievance in regard to internal issues with their HEP.

Contact

For more information, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for students or email RBGrants@dese.gov.au with "RTP" as the subject line.