HDR Variation and Extension of Candidature Procedure
This Procedure outlines how to apply and obtain approval to make changes to HDR candidature.
This Procedure applies to candidates for the HDR Programs offered by the University.
Terms mentioned in this document and not defined here are defined in the Policy Glossary in the Learning and Teaching domain of the University Policy Library, and in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements.
1.1 The table below outlines each type of variation to HDR candidature that might be sought, and how to obtain approval:
How to request
1. Add/Remove HDR coursework subjects
2. Extend my HDR candidature/scholarship/fee exemption
2.1 Extension to Candidature
2.2 Extension to HDR scholarship
2.3 Extension to Fee Exemption
Variation of Candidature Form and relevant form as per Tuition Fee - Internal Sponsorship & Exemption Policy
2.4. Extension of the due date of a milestone
2.5 Extensions during Examination
In writing to Graduate Research School
3. Take a break (includes leave of absence)
4. Change Campus or between full-time or part-time
5. Change Campus or between Internal and External
6. Change HDR course
7. Change thesis title
8. Make changes to my advisory panel
9. Withdraw from my HDR course
1.2 Any request for a Variation to Candidature must first be discussed between the Candidate and their Advisory Panel to ensure that the proposed variation is appropriate for the stage of candidature and the project plan, sufficiently justified, able to be supported by the Advisory Panel, and consistent with the availability of the required resources and supervision. This discussion should occur at a time that will enable completion of the procedure specified below and submission of the approved form to the Graduate Research School before the variation is to occur.
1.3 Following informal agreement of the Advisory Panel, the Candidate should complete the Variation of Candidature form.
1.4 Relevant documentation and explanations must be provided with the form to support the request being made, e.g. medical certificates and revised candidature plan and timelines.
1.5 The form must be approved by the signatories as specified on the form.
1.6 On approval of the Dean, Graduate Research, the Graduate Research School will make the necessary amendments to the Candidate’s University record and inform the Candidate and the Primary Advisor that the variation has been approved, and of any consequential changes to candidature, such as a change of the due date of the submission of the thesis.
1.7 Any of the signatories for approval of the variation may request additional documentation, clarification or information before deciding whether to approve the variation.
1.8 If a variation request is denied the Candidate may approach the relevant Associate Dean of Research Education for assistance in resolving the situation. The Associate Dean of Research Education may refer the matter to the Dean, Graduate Research if required.
1.9 Variations to Candidature will not normally be approved retrospectively. Variations must be formally requested and approved using the procedures outlined in this document prior to the commencement of the variation, e.g. Leave of Absence. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted if it can be demonstrated that compelling circumstances prevented the timely submission of the variation request.
2. Addition or removal of coursework subjects
2.1 This procedure does not apply to the subjects which are a requirement for the Higher Degree by Research Programs (RD/RM7001 ‘Planning the Research’, RD/RM7002 ‘Situating the Research’ and RD7003 ‘Professional Development’).
2.2 Candidates may undertake additional coursework subjects during their candidature as per the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements.
2.3 Subjects from any degree may be chosen provided the enrolment requirements and conditions for the subject are met and any necessary approvals obtained.
2.4 Doctoral Candidates may credit additional coursework towards the elective component of the subject RD7003 ‘Professional Development’.
2.5 Any additional coursework subjects should normally be undertaken prior to the Mid-Candidature Review degree milestone. Requests for enrolment in coursework subjects after this milestone must be appropriately justified.
2.6 Additional coursework subjects undertaken up to the credit point limits specified above will be subsumed into the allocated EFTSL of the HDR and will not incur tuition fees.
2.7 Candidates who are requesting enrolment in a coursework subject must ensure that the relevant completed Variation of Candidature Request form with the required approvals is submitted to the Graduate Research School at least ten (10) University working days prior to the commencement of the subject.
2.8 Enrolment in additional coursework subjects may be refused if: (1) the Advisory Panel considers that content or timing of the subject is inappropriate; (2) the required approvals are not obtained, or (3) the credit point limit for additional subjects will be exceeded.
2.9 Candidates enrolled in additional coursework subjects are bound by the policies and procedures that apply to that subject, including academic penalty for late withdrawal or financial penalty for withdrawal and census date, and must complete all requirements for the subject as specified in the relevant Subject Outline.
2.10 Candidates who wish to withdraw from a coursework subject must apply to withdraw using the relevant Variation of Candidature Request form and follow the procedure outlined above for the addition of a coursework subject. If the subject is a specified requirement of the HDR, justification must be provided as to why the subject will not be undertaken.
3. Extensions to Candidature
3.1 Extension to the duration of candidature
3.1.1 Candidates are required to submit their thesis for examination as specified in the HDR Thesis Submission and Examination Procedure by the date specified in their offer letter as the end date of their candidature. This period is normally two years FTE for a research masters degree and four years FTE for a doctorate. This period may be extended for candidates with significant family responsibilities or illness at the discretion of the Dean, Graduate Research.
3.1.2 It is expected that the Candidate and their Advisors will be aware a substantial period in advance of the due date, of a Candidate’s likely inability to complete the thesis on time and therefore, the request for an extension to the due date should be submitted as soon as it is apparent that an extension will be required and at least one (1) month prior to the specified thesis submission date.
3.1.3 An extension to the duration of candidature will not be not automatically granted, and requires the support of the Advisory Panel , the Head of the Enrolling Organisational Unit (or nominee) and the Dean, Graduate Research and must be negotiated and approved before its due date by the Variation of Candidature Form. The requested period of extension should be a maximum of six months.
3.1.4 Extensions will not normally be approved retrospectively unless compelling circumstances that prevented the timely submission of the extension request can be demonstrated, such as sudden significant onset of illness.
3.1.5 Candidates requesting an extension must be able to demonstrate convincing reasons for the delay in their candidature, e.g. significant disruption through illness or accident, unforeseen and unavoidable delays in obtaining information or data required or significant alteration to the research project and must provide a Gantt Chart outline.
3.1.6 The Primary Advisor is required to estimate the likelihood of thesis submission in the requested extension period and in the case of a first extension period, in a second extension period.
3.1.7 Normally, only one request for an extension will be considered, unless compelling circumstances can be demonstrated. Candidates requesting a second extension will normally be placed Under Review.
3.1.8 The duration of the extension requested for submission of a thesis or revisions to a thesis must be no longer than reasonably required to complete the thesis or the required revisions and must include a timetable for the completion of the thesis or revisions.
3.1.9 Candidates whose request for an extension is denied will normally have their candidature discontinued but may be able to withdraw from their candidature in good standing and reapply for admission as specified in the HDR Re-admission Procedure .
3.1.10 Requests for Leave of Absence by overtime candidates must accord with Section 3 of this Procedure which specifies a maximum of six (6) months Leave of Absence during candidature unless compelling circumstances are demonstrated and ensure that any necessary documentation, such as letters from medical professionals are attached.
3.1.11 Both full-time and part-time Candidates may request a maximum of twelve (12) months extension of the due date in periods of a maximum of six months. Extensions beyond this twelve (12) month period will only be granted if exceptional and compelling circumstances can be demonstrated.
3.1.12 During a period of approved extension, the Candidate will remain enrolled and will be required to meet all requirements for candidature and thesis submission as specified in the Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Requirements and its procedures.
3.1.13 In approving an extension to the duration of candidature, the Dean, Graduate Research may place the candidate Under Review for the period of the extension.
3.1.14 At the conclusion of the extension period, the Candidate must submit their thesis for examination as specified in the HDR Thesis Submission and Examination Procedure. Failure to do so will result in the Candidate being placed Under Review.
3.2 Extension to a scholarship
3.2.1 An extension to a scholarship will be dependent on the conditions of the relevant scholarship and must align with a candidate’s candidature.
3.2.2 It is expected that the Candidate and their Advisors will be aware a substantial period in advance of the scholarship expiry date of a Candidate’s likely requirement for an extension of the scholarship and therefore, the request for an extension to the scholarship should be submitted as soon as it is apparent that it will be required, by Variation of Candidature Form.
3.3 Extension to tuition fee exemption
3.3.1 Candidates wishing to apply for an extension to their tuition fee exemption should do so using the Variation of Candidature Form and the form indicated in the Information for Applications under the Tuition Fee – Internal Sponsorship & Exemption Policy. Applications for Tuition Fee Exemption may not be approved if >3.5 EFTSL has been consumed unless the tuition fee is paid by the candidate’s college. Applications for Tuition Fee Exemption may not be approved in >4 EFTSL has been consumed.
3.4 Extension of the due date of a milestone
2.4.1 Candidates and their Advisory Panel must be aware of when the Candidate’s Confirmation of Candidature, Mid-Candidature Review, Pre-Completion Evaluation, and Progress Reports are due and make arrangements to ensure that these reports are completed by the due dates.
3.4.2 It is expected that the Candidate and their Advisors will be aware a substantial period in advance of the milestone due date of a Candidate’s likely inability to meet the due and therefore, the request for an extension should be submitted as soon as it is apparent that it will be required. Candidates must apply by Variation of Candidature to the Graduate Research School for an extension to the due date.
3.4.4 The duration of the extension requested for a degree milestone or Progress Report must be no longer than that reasonably required to complete the requirements.
3.4.5 A request for extension of a degree milestone must include a revised timetable for the completion of the degree by the due date specified in the Candidate’s offer letter.
3.5 Extension of the due date of a revised thesis
3.5.1 If the Candidate is unable to resubmit a revised thesis with changes that must be to satisfaction of the Head of the Enrolling Organisational Unit (or nominee) or requiring checking by one or more examiners or formal re-examination, by the date specified by the Graduate Research School, the Primary Advisor of the candidate must write to the Graduate Research School indicating the expected date of thesis submission and the reason for the delay.
3.5.2 A delay in more than two (2) calendar months for resubmission of a thesis must be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research.
3.5.3 If the delay results in the examiner(s) who requested re-examination being unavailable, the Candidature Committee will be asked to nominate an alternative examiner who and must be approved by the Dean, Graduate Research in accordance with the Nomination of Examiners procedure. The Dean may consult with the Executive of the Research Education Sub-Committee in regards to the appointment of alternative examiners.
3.5.4 Failure to submit a revised thesis by the date specified or formally approved by the Graduate Research School or may result in the Candidate being placed Under Review and may lead to discontinuation of candidature and the degree not being awarded.
4. Take a break (including leave of absence)
4.1 Candidates are entitled to a total of 20 working days of leave each year without the need for a formal request for Leave of Absence or the approval of the Dean, Graduate Research. Such leave should be negotiated and agreed between the Candidate and their Advisory Panel prior to the period of leave commencing. The candidate should advise their Primary Advisor by email so they can record the intended leave period. Candidates who wish to take leave exceeding four (4) weeks in a calendar year must apply formally for Leave of Absence.
4.2 Candidates wishing to take more than 20 working days per year of leave from their course in a calendar year may apply for a maximum six (6) months Leave of Absence (see 4.13 for exceptions).
4.3 During an approved period of Leave of Absence, a Candidate will not consume any EFTSL. The duration of such leave will be added to the duration of the candidature and the due date for thesis submission for examination amended accordingly.
4.4 Any request for a period of Leave of Absence must be submitted and approved prior to the proposed period of leave. The approved form must be submitted to the Graduate Research School at least ten (10) University working days prior to the commencement of the period of leave.
4.5 A Candidate who takes leave from their course, such as extended overseas travel, without the necessary approvals may be placed on HDR Progress Support or Under Review depending on the length of the unauthorised absence.
4.6 Candidates who wish to take a period of Leave of Absence prior to completing the Confirmation of Candidature degree milestone must have a compelling reason for doing so (see 4.13 below).
4.7 International Candidates who wish to take Leave of Absence are responsible for ensuring that they remain compliant with the terms of their Australian Visa and any other Australian Government requirements. International Candidates must discuss any planned period of Leave of Absence with the University’s International Student Support team prior to requesting leave.
4.8 During a period of Leave of Absence, the Candidate will retain access to the Library, their student email account and eStudent.
4.9 During a period of Leave of Absence the Candidate is not entitled to Advisory support, unless specific arrangements have been negotiated with the Advisory Panel prior to the period of Leave of Absence commencing.
4.10 During a period of Leave of Absence a Candidate must not undertake field or laboratory work or any other activity related to their research project that requires a Candidate to be enrolled in their degree.
4.11 The candidate will not be covered by University insurance during Leave of absence.
4.12 During a period of Leave of Absence Candidates who are receiving a scholarship may have the scholarship payments suspended in accordance with the conditions of the scholarship. If the scholarship conditions permit, the duration of the scholarship may be extended for a period equivalent to the duration of the Leave of Absence.
4.13 Candidates who wish to apply for Leave of Absence under the following categories must be able to demonstrate compelling circumstances such as those listed below and ensure that any necessary documentation, such as letters from medical professionals are attached.
- Requesting leave in excess of the normal maximum duration or prior to completing the Confirmation of Candidature degree milestone may include: paid employment commitments, accident or sudden illness extended illness, carer responsibilities, major life events such as pregnancy, death or illness of the Primary Advisor, requirement to change the project due to reasons beyond the control of the candidate
- Requesting leave retrospectively may include: Emergency hospitalisation, sudden death of a relative, unexpected major life event.
- All International Student Visa holders requesting leave: Please contact the International Student Support team for further advice.
4.14 At the conclusion of an approved period of Leave of Absence, a Candidate will be automatically re-enrolled in their degree and will resume consuming EFTSL. It is the Candidate’s responsibility to ensure that at the end of the Leave of Absence period they re-commence their study, including contacting their Advisory Panel and resuming research project activities.
5. Change between full-time/part-time
5.1 Candidates may be enrolled in their degree at either the full-time (1 EFTSL per year) or part-time rate (0.5 EFTSL per year). Candidates who are not subject to visa or scholarship conditions that prevent part-time candidature may apply to vary their attendance pattern, from full-time to part-time or vice versa using a Variation of Candidature Form.
5.2 Candidates should consider the time they have available for their study when considering which attendance pattern is more suitable. Full-time Candidates are expected to dedicate an average of at least 35-40 hours per week to their candidature; part-time Candidates are expected to dedicate average of at least 16-20 hours per week.
5.3 Eligible Candidates may apply to change their attendance pattern for a specified period within their candidature or the remainder of their candidature. Candidates and Advisors should be mindful of the effect that changing attendance pattern may have on the due dates for milestones and thesis submission.
5.4 A candidate who changes their attendance pattern for a defined period will be automatically converted to the previous attendance pattern at the conclusion of this period. Candidates are responsible for ensuring they are aware of their current attendance pattern and the attendant requirements.
6. Change between internal/external
6.1 A Candidate wishing to change their attendance mode must apply via a Variation of Candidature.
6.2 Candidates applying for external mode must be able to provide information about: (1) the reason for the change, (2) how they will be supported during their candidature; (2) how often they plan to attend a campus; (3) how they will maintain contact with their advisory panel and how often and (4) what support services they will have access to in their new location.
6.3 A candidate enrolled in external mode is expected to be on campus for at least five working days per year as negotiated with their Advisory Panel to fulfil their degree requirements.
6.4 Candidates who have not been formally approved for External candidature are required to attend a recognised campus of JCU on a regular basis as agreed with their Advisory Panel.
6.5 Candidates who are subject to the conditions of a Student Visa or a scholarship are normally not permitted to enrol as an External candidate.
6.6 Candidates undertaking defined period of approved field work (i.e. the necessary approvals and permits have been obtained) at a location remote from a recognised JCU campus are not required to request External candidature, provided that they meet the internal candidate requirements during non-fieldwork periods.
7. Change course
7.1 For upgrade from a Masters to a Doctorate, refer to the HDR Course Upgrade Procedure.
7.2 To transfer enrolment within JCU to another Higher Degree by Research at the same or a lower level, a Variation of Candidature Form must be completed in accordance with the HDR Transfer of Enrolment Procedure.
7.3 On approval of the application to change course, a system application will be generated by the Graduate Research School for the candidate and an offer will be sent to the candidate by University Admissions. All HDR course changes require that applicants have received and accepted an offer for the course they wish to change to.
8. Change thesis title
8.1 During candidature, the title of the thesis is regarded as a ‘working title’ that may be updated by completing the relevant Variation of Candidature Request form at any time during candidature. The title of the thesis submitted for examination will be the title shown in the University Records upon conferral of the degree.
8.2 Changes to the thesis title that reflect a significant shift in the focus of the research after the candidate completes their Confirmation of Candidature degree milestone must be accompanied by an appropriately revised project proposal and ethics amendment if required.
9. Changes to the Advisory Panel member(s)
9.1 All Candidates’ Advisory Panels must be compliant with the HDR Supervision Procedure.
9.2 A change in a Candidate’s Advisory Panel must be by Variation of Candidature Form. In addition, if the change of Advisory Panel involves a change of College or the entire Advisory Panel, there is an additional requirement for the APP-FORM-01 to be completed and attached to the Variation of Candidature Form as per the HDR Transfer of Enrolment Procedure.
9.3 Candidates and Advisors are responsible for ensuring that the recorded Advisory Panel is accurate as the information cannot be altered after the degree is conferred.
9.4 All members of the Advisory Panel must be consulted before any changes to the Panel are requested.
9.5 If a Primary Advisor is being removed after the Candidate has already completed the Confirmation of Candidature Milestone, the Variation of Candidature must be accompanied by a completed CAA-FORM-01 Candidate Advisor Agreement.
10. Withdrawal from course
10.1 A Candidate may withdraw from their degree program at any time by completing the Variation of Candidature Request form.
10.2 Failure to attend supervisory meetings, workshops or meet other requirements of the Higher Degree by Research course does not constitute a withdrawal and may result in the Candidate being placed on HDR Progress Support or Under Review depending on the time frame and stage of candidature.
10.3 A Candidate wishing to withdraw from their course will normally be asked to undertake an exit interview with the relevant Associate Dean of Research Education or nominee.
10.4 Candidates who have withdrawn will normally be required to pay any outstanding University fees in accordance with JCU Policies and Procedures.
10.5 On completion of the course withdrawal process, the Candidate’s access to University services, materials and restricted University areas will be revoked.
Related policy instruments
Note: Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be issued at the time of printing.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research
Date for next Major Review
|22-1||Minor||25/07/2022||Update link to APP-FORM-01|
|21-1||20/01/2021||01/01/2021||Consequential changes as a result of the HDR Progress support Procedure implementation|
|19-2||Minor||21/11/19||Added reference to International Student Support Clause 3.13.3 on advice of International Compliance.|
|19-1||Minor||19/3/19||Added reference to HDR Transfer of Enrolment Procedure to clause 8.2.|
|18-1||Minor||29/08/18||Milestone extension request is by Variation of Candidature rather than in writing to GRS.|
|17-2||17/10/17||17/10/17||Changes to Section 2.1 as per Research Committee Agenda 17 October 2017.|
Add requirement for CAA-FORM-01 if Primary Advisor replaced after Confirmation of Candidature. Transfer between internal/external now done on Variation of Candidature Form.
|Contact person||Dean, Graduate Research|