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Graduate Research School Policy & Procedure Compensation for External HDR Advisors

Compensation for External HDR Advisors

Compensation for External HDR Advisors


JCU must ensure HDR candidates have adequate and continuing supervision throughout their study. A number of deficiencies in the policy and process governing these matters have recently become evident as a consequence of redundancy and retirement provisions for staff. While policy dictates that the candidate’s Advisory Panel must contain a JCU staff member, the continued supervision of students whose Primary Advisor has left the employment of JCU may require the appointment of external advisors who are not members of JCU staff. Unfortunately, the matter of arranging supervision of HDR candidates when a member of their Advisory Panel ceases to be employed by JCU are too often overlooked.

An external advisor can be an employee of another institution which may or may not be affiliated with JCU, or a person who is an adjunct staff member of JCU who typically has an unpaid staff relationship with the University.

Arrangements for the appointment of external HDR advisors have typically been managed in an ad hoc way by the Colleges. There has been an increase in these arrangements in recent times and, in some instances, candidates and Colleges have been adversely affected by the lack of guidelines or advice on how these arrangements might be managed. In particular, the issue of compensation for the work of external advisors has been a matter of concern in some cases.


These guidelines aim to:

  1. Ensure ongoing and appropriate supervision of HDR candidates when an Advisory Panel member leaves formal employment by JCU; and
  2. Provide advice to Colleges and Divisions on the types of relationships that might be formed and the kinds of compensation that might be provided to external advisors of HDR candidates who are not paid employees of JCU.

University Requirements

  1. There must always be at least one paid academic employee of JCU on the Advisory Panel of a research higher degree candidate.
  2. An adjunct appointee of JCU may be a Primary Advisor of a HDR candidate provided the relevant College Dean agrees to this arrangement.
  3. An individual who is asked to take on the role of an external advisor of a JCU HDR candidate is normally a qualified person with an appropriate level of academic achievement and/or experience to engage in the supervision of HDR candidates at the Research Masters or Research Doctorate level. The person may be employed by or retired from an educational or research institution or industry and, in some instances, may have been in a supervisory relationship with the candidate.
  4. In the instance where the need for an external advisor is initiated by the termination of employment of a JCU staff member, several issues should be considered prior to the departure of the staff member:
  5. In cases where the University has some control over the approval of a termination of employment of an advisor, as in the case of redundancy or retirement (especially early retirement), the HDR supervisory load of the staff member should be taken into account in the decision to approve termination of employment.
  6. The HDR supervisory arrangements for the candidates of staff who terminate their employment at JCU should, wherever possible, be negotiated before termination of employment is finalised.
  7. When HDR supervisory staff leave paid employment at JCU to transfer to another university, their HDR candidates may: 7.1 Transfer their enrolment to the other institution, provided the candidate  is not in the final year of candidature (it is JCU policy not to release from or accept into enrolment HDR candidates who are in their final year of candidature); 7.2 Remain enrolled at JCU but move to the other institution with the advisor under conditions arranged with the advisor and the other institution; 7.3 Remain at JCU and be assigned a new advisor who is a paid member of the JCU staff with the departing advisor relinquishing all supervisory responsibility; or 7.4 Remain at JCU and be assigned a new advisor who is a paid member of the JCU staff, with the departing staff member continuing to supervise the candidate. The departing staff member may continue to operate from JCU or at a distance. In some instances the departing staff member may be made an adjunct staff member of JCU.
  8. The terms and conditions of such adjunct appointments should be established in the application for appointment as an adjunct staff member.
  9. Such applications should require information on the resources to be provided to the adjunct staff member and the types of services they are expected to provide.
  10. Whether an adjunct member of staff is to receive any form of financial compensation for services to the University can be negotiated at this time with the proviso that a change of conditions may be negotiated in future should the level or kind of service change or the performance of the adjunct staff member be deemed unsatisfactory.

Reporting Arrangements and Compensation

  1. The Primary Advisor is responsible for ensuring their HDR candidates progress, and for reporting on that progress annually to the Graduate Research School. The Primary Advisor must seek regular input from the other members of the Advisory Panel.
  2. In the case of HDR supervision by an adjunct staff member, a variety of arrangements have typically been put in place, including in some cases provision of office space, access to lab facilities, funds in a services account, or financial remuneration in the form of a casual salary or contract payment. The level and type of resource allocation made to an adjunct staff member should be guided by the amount of work they are expected to undertake.
  3. External HDR advisors who are not adjunct staff of JCU may require some form of compensation for their work. In some cases, they will be satisfied with arrangements such as opportunities for co-authorship on papers and grants or access to a research resource (e.g. specialist piece of equipment); in other circumstances payment may be required. The nature of these requirements may depend upon the employment conditions of the external advisor’s employer and the amount of effort this person is expected to put into supervising the HDR candidate.
  4. The relevant College Administrator should, (a) check with the Graduate Research School about the supervisory responsibilities of JCU academics who are negotiating departure from employment with the University; and (b) remind the relevant College Dean of the need to ensure that new supervisory arrangements are negotiated as part of the departure package.
  5. The Graduate Research School should be advised of the new arrangements so that they can be recorded in the Student Management System and on the student’s file. JCU Human Resources must be involved if any form of employment contract is negotiated. The contract should be between the external advisor and the College.
  6. Payment (be it by contract or into a services fund) to external Primary Advisors for supervision of an HDR candidate should normally be based on the successful achievement of their candidature milestones.

Approval Details

Procedure custodian:

Dean, Graduate Research

Approval authority:


Version no.:


Date for next review:

March 2019

Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date



21 March 2016

23 March 2016