HDR Advisor FAQs

As an HDR Advisor you will want to attract quality HDR candidates. Applicants will be looking globally for the university that provides the best fit and support for their research interests, career goals and lifestyle.

  • Sell the projects that you are qualified to supervise and have the resources to support.
  • Be clear about the theoretical rationale for each of these projects, their aims and methodologies and the likely modes of data collection and analysis.
  • Be clear about the knowledge and skills that are required to successfully complete such projects. Which skills can be acquired during candidature and which skills must the applicant bring with them?
  • Talk with promising undergraduate and coursework postgraduate students at JCU.
  • Take the opportunity to sell yourself and your research by giving seminars at institutions external to JCU and at conferences etc.

You can place information on your prospective projects on you Research Portfolio page on the JCU website or on the GRS webpage. Consider using social media, e.g. ResearchGate or Twitter, to sell your projects and invite prospective applicants to communicate with you and your other candidates.

See also:

  • Kearns and Finn (2017), an e-copy of which is in the JCU library
  • The module on ‘Attracting and selecting doctoral applicants’ in the Epigeum Online course.

Visit How to Apply to learn more about the application process.

JCU’s English Language Requirement (ELR) for entry to a HDR is based upon the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), although equivalent TOEFL and Pearson tests are also acceptable [place link]. JCU HDR applicants from an English as an Additional Language (EAL) background are required to have an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component score below 6. This requirement should be considered firm, and exceptions are not normally made. The writing requirements of a HDR are substantial, and candidates must have a reasonable proficiency in English for academic purposes before they begin. Certain candidates may be required to undertake a Post-Entry Language Assessment (PELA) upon commencement, to determine whether they require intensive English language support at the start of their candidature.  Further information about the PELA system:  https://www.jcu.edu.au/graduate-research-school/candidates/commencing-students/post-entry-language-assessment-pela

Note that JCU competitive HDR scholarship awardees are required to have an IETLS score of 7 with no band less than 6.5, and again this requirement is firm. IELTS recommends that a student is likely to need three months’ full-time English language study to increase their score by 0.5.

JCU HDR applicants may be asked to undertake a Pre-Entry Language Assessment (PrELA) as part of the JCU application process, if:

  • There is a well-founded request to waive the English Language Requirements from a prospective advisor or Dean of College
  • There is some doubt about their English Language competency i.e., competency claims are based on co-authored papers in English
  • They have scored highly on their scholarship application and but do not have a current IELTS score and the University wishes to decide on whether to hold a stipend or fee-waiving scholarship while the candidate completes an IELTS test.

Please note that a PrELA test is not intended to replace a poor IELTS result. Applicants who undertake the IELTS test but do not reach the benchmark entry scores are encouraged to undertake more English training before re-sitting the IELTS test and re-applying for entry to a JCU research degree.

A cotutelle or conjoint HDR degree is an HDR degree granted by both JCU and another tertiary institution through a Cotutelle or Conjoint Enrolment agreement.

Candidates who are citizens of Australia and New Zealand, as well as Australian Permanent Residents, have their tuition fees supported by the Australian Government in the form of a Research Training Program Fee Offset and will be exempt from tuition fees for a defined maximum period (four years full-time equivalent for Doctorate and two years full-time equivalent for Masters by Research enrolments).  Visit the Australian Government’s Research Training Program website for further information.

A proportion of International HDR Candidates (in practice, those who receive competitive stipend scholarships administered by JCU) may receive a Fee Offset or Fee Waiver and will be notified if this is the case.  Some other international candidates have their tuition fees paid by sponsors such as their home country government or AUSAID.

Note: If you are advising a candidate who is supported by their home country government, you should find out the penalty that they will incur if they do not graduate with the research higher degree in which they initially enrol. If such a candidate is struggling, it might be kinder for their candidature to be discontinued before they amass a crippling debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All other international HDR Candidates are required by the Australian Government to pay tuition fees. For fee scales, visit the JCU International Student Centre website.

All candidates commencing on or after 1 January 2019 will be liable to pay a nominal tuition fee of up to $4,000 if their candidature exceeds maximum time (i.e., 4 years full time equivalent for Doctoral Candidates and 2 years full time equivalent for Masters Candidates). Any such fees liability must be paid before a candidate can receive their testamur.

For frequently asked questions please refer to the GRS website.

Awards for Australian/NZ citizens and permanent residents include:

  • Research Training Program Scholarships (RTPS)
  • JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarships (JCUPRS)

International applicants are eligible to apply for:

  • JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarships (JCUPRS)
  • International Research Training Program Scholarships (IRTPS)

These awards are administered by the Graduate Research School. There is one scholarship round per year. For the 2020 round, international applications will close on July 31 2019 and domestic applications on October 31. Applicants who score very highly on the scholarship ranking schema may be given advance offers.

All HDR stipend scholarships are tax free as long as the scholarship is full-time.

Part-time scholarships are taxed, an Australian Government Regulation.

Visit the GRS Scholarships webpage for further information on stipend, conference travel and research support funding available.

Generic policy applies to provision of support from the College.  For further information, refer to the HDR Minimum Standard of Resources, Facilities and Other Support Provided for Research Higher Degree Students Procedure.

‘Recruit in haste, repent at leisure’ (Kearns and Finn 2017, p212)

These checks are modified from Kearns and Finn (2017), an e-copy of which is in the JCU library. This book contains useful suggestions about the questions you might ask a potential HDR candidate.

See also the Epiguem module on ‘Attracting and selecting doctoral applicants’ at the Higher Degree by Research Advisors Organisation on LearnJCU.

  • Suggested pre-acceptance checks
  • Interview the applicant (preferably in person but Skype is okay). Prepare for the interview and be clear on the selection criteria and skills that you are assessing, in addition to the JCU requirements.
  • Ask applicants to make a short presentation to you and consider testing their skills with relevant tasks.
  • Talk with each applicant about your expectations and advisory style and assess whether you want to work with them.
  • Prepare an Advisor Statement (exemplar) outlining how you operate as an HDR advisor. Ask the applicant to complete the ‘Expectation of Candidates and their Advisory Team’ and talk with them about the matters in which their expectations differ from yours.
  • Phone or Skype their referees. Referees are much more likely to be frank in conversation than in writing.
  • Make sure that the project costs are not going to exceed guaranteed available funds. The candidate cannot sit around waiting for uncertain funding.
  • In response to email queries from prospective candidates, do not promise funding beyond the HDR Minimum Resources Procedure unless there are specific funds available to support the project.
  • Check with your College to see if there are any limits on using your IRA/DBA funds to support HDR candidates.
  • Ask the prospective applicant if they have worked out how they will survive with the funds available to support themselves and their family, especially if they (or their partner) fail to find work (very important for international applicants). Encourage international applicants to review the JCU International Students site to learn more about the supports available to them as they prepare to make application. Remind them that doing a full-time research higher degree is at least a 40 hour a week job.  You can’t pry into their personal affairs but you can ask if they have checked out the feasibility of the situation.
  • Remember that when you take on a weaker HDR candidate you are also accepting the responsibility to ensure that they receive the additional support required to ensure they can complete within the limits of scholarship funding available.

Consider with marginal applicants the range of pathway options such as a lesser award or additional training or development to best prepare them for their enrolment at JCU

The Graduate Research School has information pages detailing entry requirements for HDR candidature and English language requirements.