Study Away

What is Study Away?

Study Away refers to a period of time in which you are approved to travel for research-related activities (such as fieldwork, attending conferences and classes, studying at a partner institution for a Jointly-awarded PhD or working with collaborators) away from the University.

If you have any queries relating to the impact of COVID-19 on your travel, please consult the Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for graduate researchers page.

Student visa holders should check the guidelines for their visa when travelling overseas to ensure there are no issues when re-entering Australia at the end of the study away period. Contact the student visa team for any questions relating to your visa.

Note: you must be approved for study away before your departure. You should apply well in advance to allow for any delays in the application process. Graduate researchers travelling to a high- risk destination which requires approval by the Academic Registrar, should submit their request for study away at least two months prior to the date of travel.

Preparing to apply

So you are considering travel that will support your research? Before you start spend some time reviewing our travel and off campus work page. This page links you to policies, requirements and guidance that you may need to refer to when completing your application.

Before you submit an application, make sure you complete the following steps.

Step 1
Discuss your study away plans with supervisor and obtain their approval
Step 2
Ensure that you meet enrolment requirements
Step 3
Apply and obtain ethics approval (if required)
Step 4
Complete itinerary
Step 5
Check health and safety requirements have been completed

Enrolment requirements

Residency requirements and study away length

All graduate researchers are required to adhere to a residency requirement which is defined in the Graduate Research Training Policy.

Study away periods longer than six months may not be approved unless they are considered necessary for the successful completion of your thesis.

Supervision during study away

For study away periods longer than three months, an external supervisor located at your study away location must be appointed. If a suitable external supervisor cannot be appointed, a detailed plan of how supervision will be maintained must be attached to your study away application. This plan must include the method and frequency of communication with your supervisors (eg weekly Skype conversations).

Progress reviews and thesis submission dates

During approved study away periods, your enrolment continues as usual. Therefore, progress review and thesis submission dates don't change. Before applying, discuss with your supervisors how you will meet any progress deadlines during your study away. You may wish to consider completing your review early or having the meeting remotely using a conference call or Skype.

Ethics approval

If you require ethics approval, make sure that it has been granted for the duration of your study away period. Note that the time it may take for approval can vary dependent on numerous factors including the meeting schedule to discuss ethics applications, the type of application submitted and if further information is needed.

The office of research ethics and integrity indicate as an example that researchers should allow at least six to eight weeks for human ethics approval, so you need to start discussing this with your supervisor as soon as possible.

More information is available via the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity webpage.

Planning a travel itinerary

A travel itinerary with the following information will need to be included in your study away application:

  • Addresses of accommodation and locations where your research will be carried out.
  • Name and contact details of contact person.
  • Phone number(s) where you can be contacted whilst away.
  • If you are a citizen of the country you intend to visit and/or you are staying in your family home.
  • If applicable, an explanation of how you will mitigate the risks outlined by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Smartraveller.

Health, safety and risk

Please note that, in addition to University’s Travel and Off Campus Work Requirements, COVID-19 has introduced additional risks that need to be considered and assessed by each traveller prior to travelling. These include:

  • identifying and complying with local requirements in other jurisdictions, including but not limited to quarantine, health declarations, gathering restrictions and record keeping.
  • identifying and complying with COVIDSafe and other requirements of organisations that the traveller is planning to visit, including accommodation.
  • risks of being stranded interstate or overseas. These may include potential impacts on personal and/or work responsibilities and significant financial costs associated with temporary accommodation and/or compulsory quarantine. There is no central fund to cover these costs.
  • identifying and seeking medical advice about any pre-existing health or other conditions that may increase the risks associated with the travel and proposed activities.
  • identifying and assessing any personal circumstances that may increase the risks associated with the travel and proposed activities.
  • for domestic travel, reviewing and understanding the Australian Government’s Domestic Passenger Journey Protocols
  • for international travel, staying up to date with information on Australian Government travel restrictions, available from the Department of Home Affairs.
  • staying up to date with Victorian Government advice for travel and transport

Travel to high risk destinations

If you are planning research-related travel to a location listed as ‘do not travel’ or ‘reconsider your need to travel’ on Smartraveller, which are referred to as high-risk destinations, further consideration by the Academic Registrar is required.  Your application will be automatically assigned to them if you have indicated on the online form that a high-risk destination is included in your itinerary.

In these instances, a study away online application must be submitted at least 2 months prior to your date of travel.

For locations that are considered high risk you will need to prove:

  • The travel is essential to your research and why the travel is required at this specific time, and
  • You have identified and demonstrated the capacity to manage any associated risks as listed by

Risk mitigation may include demonstrating:

  • You have language proficiency, access to local networks and support, and/or deep knowledge of the destination of your travel.
  • You are a permanent resident or citizen of the destination country.

Please note: the University will not approve or provide support for personal travel to high risk destinations. See the Travel and off campus work page for further information.

If you have any personal travel to international destinations, you must not take University of Melbourne assets, including mobile phones, tablets and computers.

Fieldwork risk assessment

If fieldwork is a component of your study away, you will need to complete a fieldwork risk assessment form to make an accurate assessment on the level of risk associated with any fieldwork activities.

If any fieldwork activity would be considered as medium risk or higher, a fieldwork plan must be attached to your application. A template for a fieldwork plan can be found on the travel and off campus work page.

Pre-travel health check

As part of your travel itinerary you are required to assess the potential risk to your health in consultation with your supervisors. You should:

  • ensure that you are fit to travel and participate in the activity
  • get necessary and recommended vaccinations

The University health service offers graduate researchers an opportunity to get travel health advice and make appointments for vaccinations.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is provided to all graduate researchers upon approval of their study away applications, within the scope of the University’s travel insurance policy. Please note:

  • The University’s travel insurance policy will not apply if your research is being conducted within 100km of your usual place of residence
  • Cover for medical expenses is not available where you are able to access a government-run medical benefit scheme, for example if you are travelling to a country of which you are a citizen and therefore are entitled to access the national health or medical system in that country.  Note this only applies to medical expenses; other coverage for costs such as lost or delayed baggage or travel disruption is still available in such circumstances.

Please also note that:

For more details, please see the University’s travel insurance page.

  • If the University's travel insurance does not meet your needs, you must seek additional travel insurance elsewhere that suits you better.
  • If you are planning personal travel while on study away, that is for a longer period than your research-related travel and/or is to a high-risk destination the travel insurance provided by the University may not cover you.

If you have questions regarding your cover, you can check with the University’s Insurance Office via Stop 1 before you apply.

What's next?

Apply for study away