Key initiatives

Faculties, Graduate Schools and University support services use feedback from the Melbourne Research Experience Survey (MRES) to improve the graduate research student experience and enhance support programs.

  • The Faculty of Arts

    Remains committed to improving the experience and prestige of the Melbourne PhD. Its coursework component remains central to the cohort experience. The intellectual rounding it provides enhances the transferable skills of our graduate researchers. Over 80% of graduate researchers report a positive impact of the coursework on their research. The Faculty has:

    • Introduced a common start date for the PhD and Master of Arts each year so researchers move through their degrees together;
    • Introduced fuller inductions that include advice on managing the relationship with supervisors and developing time management skills;
    • Increased access to desk space such that almost universal access is available. When there is pressure on space, candidates in the write-up phase, those who have compassionate circumstances and international students are prioritised;
    • Streamlined the PhD to enable confirmation within the first year of study to improve timely completions and allow for the early identification of thesis strength and weaknesses;
    • Held regular career workshops to enable researchers to plan for their careers post-graduation and is building work integrated learning opportunities into graduate research study;
    • Employed a Student Experience Officer to develop enrichment events including a career planning service, social events, ambassador programs and peer support initiatives;
    • Continued to provide the hugely popular ArtsWrite weekend twice a year and Research ‘Speed Dating,’ to expose candidates to new research platforms and methods;
    • Integrated Honours students into the Graduate Schools to build their cohort experience with the objective of providing clear pathways to graduate research study;
    • Maintained funding for research travel support through the Faculty GRATS and PhD Fieldwork scheme; and
    • Is planning to launch in 2018 up to five funded two-year Level A teaching fellowships (The Melbourne Arts Fellowship), eligible to PhD students in their third year.
  • The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
    • Continued to support our graduate researcher’s academic and professional skills through our research methods workshops;
    • Implemented new Faculty strategic scholarships;
    • Provides laptops to all full-time graduate researchers to provide greater flexibility and data security;
    • Continued to offer and support graduate research career development by facilitating opportunities to present at domestic and international conferences;
    • Continued to support graduate research thesis outcomes through facilitation of research fieldwork in national or international locations;
    • Supports student-led initiatives such as the twice yearly graduate researcher forum, social functions and the publication of the annual Oculus e-book;
    • Is currently reviewing the Faculty graduate research training portfolio, including processes, streamlining policies and scholarships;
    • Worked with our library staff to offer training in the effective use of library resources and data management; and
    • Continued our focus on high-quality support services and the availability of administrative and pastoral advice for graduate researchers.
  • The Faculty of Business and Economics
    • Successfully re-designed the Doctoral programs in Finance and Accounting to increase their duration to five years (two years of masters coursework followed by three years of research). A proposal to re-design the Doctoral program in Economics to increase its duration to five years is under consideration;
    • Successfully introduced a new Doctoral Program in Decision, Risk and Financial Science;
    • Supports candidates’ career development by providing opportunities for teaching experience through discipline-based Graduate Teaching Fellowships;
    • Continues to provide Travelling Research Scholarships to PhD students;
    • Continues to provide $10 000 to each PhD student to fund research activities such as data collection and conference travel;
    • Is offering a thesis bootcamp in 2017;
    • Has improved coordination and communication between the Faculty Graduate Research team, PhD Program Directors and research students.
  • Melbourne Graduate School of Education
    • Developed a new orientation and induction program to connect students with support staff and programs;
    • Introduced Research Week to support research training and collaboration between and across graduate research students and research staff;
    • Offered MGSE Thesis Bootcamp twice during the year; and
    • Convened regular graduate research student meetings to support student wellbeing and provide information and training related to working with supervisors, undertaking confirmation and completion seminars and ethics.
  • Melbourne School of Engineering
    • Guaranteed $1500 funding to all research students for conference travel during their degree;
    • Established an Engineering-specific internship subject that is accessible to both domestic and international students;
    • Improved the range of enrichment events which span the entire candidature, including an end of year celebration to bring together candidates from across the disciplines and year levels;
    • Supported the establishment of a student-led graduate research society, which provides a forum for public presentations before a multidisciplinary audience, writing workshops and expanding on current networks; and
    • In 2015, made it a requirement for all new candidates to have two supervisors to ensure greater candidature support.
  • The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science

    Worked with departments to identify areas of improvement. Initiatives included:

    • Improved orientation and induction programs;
    • Improved communication about the funding schemes available to graduate researchers for conference, travel and other support;
    • Ran a Thesis Bootcamp jointly with the Graduate Student’s Association in May 2017, with an additional bootcamp planned in the second half of 2017;
    • Established best practice guidelines for advisory committees and introduced training for Advisory Committee Chairs in the use of these guidelines;
    • Introduced pre-confirmation reviews of candidature for newly enrolled graduate researchers to meet with their Advisory Panel Chair and their principal supervisor to discuss their research project aims and project plan, and provide the opportunity to raise issues separately with the Chair if any are arising; and
    • Is co-funding the new Melbourne Statistical Consulting Platform along with other faculties to ensure a subsidised statistical consulting service remains available to graduate researchers.
  • The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
    • Has held discussions with student groups in three locations to hear students’ concerns and address their needs;
    • Increased the budget for student IT resources so that every newly commencing student can be allocated a new laptop computer;
    • Developed an enhanced induction kit for students;
    • Held an information session on copyright and intellectual property;
    • Held a thesis bootcamp for final year students, which will be repeated at least annually;
    • Developed a comprehensive series of researcher support seminars and workshops that runs on both Parkville and Werribee campuses; and
    • Introduced twice-yearly workshops to assist students in applying for human ethics clearance for their research project.
  • The Faculty of the VCA & MCM

    In anticipation of the completion of the new Conservatorium building at Southbank and the co-location of VCA and MCM on Southbank, the Faculty is developing a Faculty wide strategy for resourcing graduate researchers. The new music building will offer enhanced opportunities for composition and performance students to access specialist recording facilities and technical help to aid in the completion of their creative projects. Purpose-built studios for Honours, MCA, MFA and PhD art students in the new ‘Stables’ complex are to be completed for the 2018 academic year. Postgraduate study spaces will be maintained as a vital aspect of configuring the spaces at Parkville and Southbank. The Faculty:

    • Is consulting students on their resource needs through a student survey in preparation for the co-location of the VCA and MCM at the Southbank Campus (expected 2019);
    • Is consulting students on their library needs in preparation for the co-location of the VCA and MCM collections at the Southbank Campus and is extending hours for study space access at the Southbank library;
    • Holds an annual faculty-wide graduate symposium;
    • Funds research dissemination for PhD, MFA and M Music students through the Faculty Small Grants Scheme (FSGS) and the prestigious POTS funding;
    • Is improving the coordination and administrative processes for graduate research service delivery to students, their supervisors and academic departments to ensure that progress reporting and examinations are managed in a clear, consistent, transparent and expedient manner;
    • Offers teaching and mentoring opportunities through the Academic Assistantship Program (AAP);
    • Has introduced O-week welcomes to bring the graduate cohort together to introduce key staff members and schemes for postgraduate students;
    • Is surveying students to develop a revitalised MCM Postgraduate Seminar series;
    • Provides mentoring in academic writing at MCM for postgraduate students;
    • Has embedded library research skills seminars in all graduate research programs;
    • Has made timetable changes to MFA Research Methods to enable working students to attend;
    • Is in the process of accrediting the Research Methods and Research Seminar courses for VCA PhD students;
    • Provides workshops on developing early career researcher profiles, research data management and reference management training;
    • Provides one-on-one library research consultations to all graduate students; and
    • Holds specifically designed research workshops and programs on creative arts research during Researcher@Library Week at Southbank and Parkville campuses.
  • Melbourne Law School
    • Implemented a requirement for students to present their milestones at graduate research events, and encouraged attendance by other staff and students to foster a stronger cohort experience and increase collegiality from commencement;
    • Introduced the requirement for students to present a chapter sample as part of their two-year progress review to ensure they are making timely preparations for completion;
    • Consolidated competitive faculty research funding for students into a single scheme to make applying easier, and added additional funding for language support for students with English as a second language;
    • Conducted an Associate Dean Research workshop series, with presentations on topics such as applying for research funding, and managing a researcher profile and digital ID;
    • Expanded the MLS teaching fellowship scheme to allow more students to gain teaching experience and be integrated into faculty life; and
    • Permitted students to audit one subject in the Melbourne Law Masters program (with supervision and subject coordinator permission).
    • The Faculty of Science

      Has instituted a variety of initiatives to improve the student experience.

      • Introduced a bi-annual thesis boot camp to support graduate researchers to completion;
      • Established a procedure to ensure the advisory committee is formed on commencement;
      • Introduced a media training course on how to engage with the media and build a public profile;
      • Significantly increased the number of travel scholarships offered to ensure graduate researchers are supported to attend conferences, undertake field work and engage with international partners; and
      • Significantly increased the value of the post-thesis submission writing up award to support graduate researchers to prepare journal articles based on their thesis.