Academic Board: Amend policies changing RHD course duration deadlines

Professor Nilss Olekalns: President, Academic Board

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At the Academic Board meeting on 22nd June, the University’s senior leaders voted to make changes the Graduate Research Training Policy and the Courses, Subjects, Awards and Programs Policy that apply to all current students. From 1 January 2018, all research students will have a hard cut-off date to submit their theses, and extensions will only be granted for research-related reasons.

While we support the University’s goal of increasing the number of research students who complete their degrees on time, GSA oppose the changes for two key reasons:

  • Applying the changes to all current students unreasonably impacts students who progressed through their candidature with the understanding that lapse was available if necessary
  • By removing the option of extensions for compassionate reasons, the University disproportionately penalises the students who most need support

Under the University's Academic Board Regulation, the Board is required to respond to a petition from a recognised student organisation such as GSA. That means we have a real opportunity to get this issue back on the agenda, and the more students we have involved, the stronger our case is.

So sign this petition to join us in calling on the Academic Board to amend their policy and genuinely support research students.

To: Professor Nilss Olekalns: President, Academic Board
From: [Your Name]

Dear Professor Olekalns,

The University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association (GSA), and the undersigned students, call on the Academic Board to amend the Graduate Research Training Policy in the following ways:

4.60 Lapsed candidature is only available to candidates who were enrolled in their course before 1 January 2018.

5.51 Applications to lapse are only available to candidates who were enrolled in their course before 1 January 2018.

5.58 This section applies to all candidates who enrol in their courses from 1 January 2018.

5.62 An application for late submission will only be granted if the criteria at 5.61 are satisfied, and the delay in submission is due to compelling personal, medical or compassionate grounds or research-related reasons beyond the candidates’ control. Research related reasons beyond the candidate’s control may include:

GSA recognises and respects the University’s intent to increase the percentage of candidates completing research degrees in a timely fashion. However, applying the recent changes to the Graduate Research Training Policy and the Courses, Subjects, Awards and Programs Policy to existing students unreasonably impacts students who progressed through their candidature with the understanding that lapse was available if necessary.

Additionally, by removing the option of extensions for compassionate reasons, the University disproportionately penalises the students who most need support. This includes students with chronic medical issues and those with caring responsibilities, who are already disadvantaged in undertaking and completing research degrees.

Research candidates contribute greatly to the production of knowledge at the University, and to the University community more broadly. We call on the Academic Board to recognise this value, and to adopt policies and practices that genuinely support candidates in completing their degrees.

On behalf of the undersigned research students,

Shirley Jackson
GSA Education and Research Officer