Higher Degrees by Research - information for students
Variations of your candidature
Changes to your enrolment (which are called 'variations') need approval by your Postgraduate Co-ordinator or Head of School. Taking recreation leave is not a major change and you should arrange it with your supervisor. The major changes include leave (sick leave, maternity and personal leave), changing your research topic, working off-campus, outside research, suspension or extension of candidature, changing to part-time (or vice versa), upgrading from a masters to a doctorate, and change of supervisor.
Many of the variations described on this page relate to forms available from the Research Services web site, and the Research Services office. There links to each form with its description below.
Scholarship (APA and LTUPRS) recipients are entitled to up to twenty days recreation or annual leave each year and your scholarship will continue to be paid during leave. You must take leave during the tenure of the scholarship - you cannot save it up and take it after you have submitted your thesis. University holidays are not counted in the 20 days leave and you're not expected to work on those days. This leave provision applies to scholarships (Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2010, s2.25.20).
Full-time candidates who do not have scholarships may also take leave twenty days leave per year.
Your maximum candidature and end of scholarship dates include recreation leave. Carefully plan and take your leave to maximise your progress, and keep your supervisor informed of your plans and when you are taking leave.
Sick leave, maternity leave and personal leave
If you are ill or having a baby or have to take time-off for personal reasons you may apply for personal leave, using the Application for Sick/Maternity Leave Form. It is especially important that you apply for leave if your progress is likely to be delayed as a result. Students may apply for parental leave to support a partner having a baby. Note that you can apply for leave for reasons such as caring for a sick child or relative or on other 'compassionate' grounds such as attending a funeral of a close relative.
Some scholarships have provision for sick and/or maternity leave. APA and LTUPRS holders may apply for up to a total of 12 weeks of paid leave for periods of illness lasting longer than ten days, and up to 12 weeks paid maternity or 5 days parental leave. You have to complete the Application for Sick/Maternity Leave Form and provide a medical certificate from a recognized medical practitioner. Paid maternity/parental leave may not be taken within the first twelve months of APA and LTUPRS.
The expiry date of your candidature and the due date for submission of your thesis will be adjusted to allow for approved sick, personal and maternity leave. For that reason it is important that your leave is approved by your postgraduate coordinator or Head of School, and recorded, at the time, by the Research Students section of Research Services.
If you are an international student who has personal leave you should check with La Trobe International and Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) staff to ensure that you visa remains valid and extends to your updated enrolment expiry date.
Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) leave provisions are in the APA legislation (s2.25.20). La Trobe Postgraduate Research Scholarships (LTUPRS) have the same provisions as APAs.
If you decide to change your topic you must complete the change of topic application form. You should note that your School can support a change of topic only if there is expertise available to supervise your new topic along with any other resources and facilities that are required. Your supervisor has to complete section 2 of the form and it is signed-off by your Postgraduate Coordinator (or Head of School).
If you wish to continue your study but only attend on campus when specifically required complete an Application For Outside Research And Off Campus Status For Higher Degree Research Candidature form and include a statement outlining the reasons for your request and the stage reached in your research.
You will have to discuss this with your supervisor to make effective arrangements for supervision and any attendance on campus that will be needed or useful to you.
Off Campus Status is approved only after a doctoral student has spent 18 months on campus or a masters student has spent 12 months on campus. Off Campus Status does not change your enrolment or fees or other requirements such as meeting with your supervisors.
If you plan to leave your usual campus to carry out field work, collect data, access collections, visit other institutions or for other reasons related to your research complete an Application For Outside Research And Off Campus Status For Higher Degree Research Candidature form and include a statement outlining the reasons for your request and the stage reached in your research. In the application you should outline your full intentions and plans, list each area, country and/or institution you will visit indicating their relevance to your research project. Include your plans for maintaining contact with your supervisor(s) at La Trobe. Also check the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) travel advice pages about each country you are travelling to. Where DFAT recommends "reconsider your need to travel" or "do not travel" the university will not normally give permission for that travel.
Permission may be granted for a specified period overseas provided it is demonstrably necessary and an integral part of your research. Your supervisors’ advice, experience and network connections may be very helpful for you. You can consider arranging an associate supervisor in the overseas area or institution where you will work.
Note if you are going overseas as part of your studies and research there are other forms you have to complete. See the travel pages and complete a travel application as well as the Application For Outside Research ... form, as described above.
If you are an International Student and travelling overseas for your research then you must check how your visa may be affected by discussing your plans with La Trobe International or Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) staff.
You may apply to suspend your candidature (stop your study, research and enrolment) for up to 12 months for any one application and no more than 24 months total. The form to use is the Application to Suspend Candidature/Scholarship Form. The application requires support by your supervisor. APA and La Trobe scholarships can be suspended but discuss this with your supervisor and ask about it at Research Services as soon as you think you may have to suspend your candidature. Your scholarship is not paid while your enrolment is suspended and the total you are paid over your whole candidature is reduced when you suspend your scholarship.
International students must get advice from La Trobe International or the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) regarding suspension of candidature. A suspension granted for longer than 6 months will normally result in the cancellation of your student visa.
If you make adequate progress with your research but do not submit your thesis before your candidature expiry date, you can be granted an extension. Acceptable reasons for extension must relate to your research and be beyond your control. Note that illness and similar personal circumstances are not included and that it is important to apply for leave at the time you are ill or need leave. Sick leave is described above.
To apply for an extension complete the Application to Extend Candidature/Scholarship form and ask your supervisor to complete section two of the form. It has to be approved by your postgraduate coordinator or Head of School.
If you are an international student you must contact La Trobe International and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) to ensure that your visa is valid for your extension and passed your new candidature expiry date.
If you’re in employment, part-time enrolment makes it possible to complete a research degree and maintain your career, although you will most likely have to manage your time carefully and your employer’s support can be very important.
If you have enrolled for a masters by research and your supervisor and RPP consider your thesis could meet the criteria for a doctorate, you may apply to upgrade. This is done after you have completed considerable work; completed several chapters of your thesis, or obtained data appropriate for a doctoral dissertation, for example. The duration of your candidature will be changed appropriately and calculated from the day you commenced your masters. If you have a scholarship (APA or LTUPRS) it will be considered in the same way and paid for three years from when you first commenced your masters degree.
Use the Application to Upgrade to PhD form.
If you have to change supervisor (principal, co-supervisor or associate) for any reason, you must complete an Application to Vary Supervision Details form. A change of supervisor may be brought about by circumstances beyond your control, but the form and authorisation are still required. (This does not include circumstances where your supervisor is on leave for a short time 2 months for masters candidates or 3 months for doctoral candidates. This is described in the last section on the Supervision page.)
If you consider that another supervisor may be better for you or your project, discuss your views with your supervisor and consider carefully the impact of the disruption that will be involved in changing. It is obviously not a decision to make lightly and the Difficulties section may be relevant. Your principal supervisor’s agreement and approval by your Postgraduate Coordinator or Head of School are required.