Study Away refers to a period of time in which you are allowed to undertake research-related activities that are an essential part of your research program (such as fieldwork, attending conferences, attending classes or working with collaborators) away from the University.
Information on conditions and procedures of research-related travel for graduate researchers can be found in the Student Travel and Transport Policy.
If you are planning to take recreational leave or a leave of absence, you should consult our taking leave page.
Residency requirements may restrict when you can go on Study Away. All graduate researchers must complete a minimum amount of study at the University of Melbourne or an approved outside institution (12 months for a PhD/doctorate or 6 months for masters by research or MPhil). In most cases, it is best to wait until your candidature is confirmed before commencing Study Away.
How long can I go on Study Away?
Your Study Away time is counted as study time, and will not be added to extend your candidature. You cannot be on Study Away for more than two thirds of your expected course duration, see the Graduate Research Training Policy Definitions.
Student visa holders
The length of time you can go on Study Away may depend on your residency requirements of your visa. You should review your visa terms and conditions or contact the visa support team for more information.
The policy allows an accumulated time period of two thirds of your degree length for research-related travel, but applications for long periods of Study Away (more than 6 months) are generally not recommended and may not be approved unless they are necessary for your successful completion of your thesis.
When do I need to apply?
You will need to apply for Study Away if you are:
- travelling overseas for any length of time, including to your home country
- travelling within Australia for one month or more
- applying for travel funds
- studying at a partner institution for a Jointly-awarded PhD.
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.
If you are planning to have extensive periods of Study Away, you need to ensure that you will meet the residency requirement for your degree.
Supervision during Study Away
If you will be on Study Away for more than three months, an external supervisor must be appointed who is located where you are undertaking your research. 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, so progress review and thesis submission dates don't change. Discuss with your supervisors how you will meet any progress deadlines that are due while you are away. You may wish to consider to complete your review early or having the meeting remotely (using a conference call or Skype).
Your personal safety
Your personal safety is of utmost importance. You are required to assess the potential risk to your safety in consultation with your supervisors.
- ensure that you are fit to travel and participate in the activity
- get necessary and recommended vaccinations
- determine the safety of the method of travel to the site
- assess the risks associated with the travel destination
- assess the risks of the activity.
Fieldwork in hostile or complex locations
If you are planning on undertaking fieldwork in a hostile and/or complex environment, the University offers an intensive subject to help with your preparations. Visit the Fieldwork in complex and hostile places page for more information.
You can also contact our Safer Community team to discuss your travel itinerary with them.
Scholarship payments during Study Away
Some stipend scholarships require that your candidature is confirmed before you start your Study Away.
Preparing to apply
You should apply for Study Away after discussing your plans and any areas of concern with your supervisor. Our travel and off campus work page has useful information to help you complete your application.
To submit a complete Study Away application and start planning your trip as early as possible to allow for administrative delays, make sure you follow all (applicable) steps.
- Step 1
- Talk to your supervisor
- Step 2
- If required, apply and get approved for ethics approval
- Step 3
- Complete itinerary
- Step 4
- Apply for travel funding, if applicable
- Step 5
- Check Smartraveller for advice from DFAT if travelling overseas
- Step 6
- Complete travel risk assessment
- Step 7
- Book in for a pre-travel health check if recommended
- Step 8
- Purchase travel insurance
If applicable, make sure that ethics approval has been granted for the duration of your Study Away period. Note that ethics approval may take some time to be approved, so you need to start discussing this with your supervisor as soon as possible. Contact Research ethics and integrity if you need more information.
Your travel itinerary
The following information will need to be included in your 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 you have undertaken or intend to complete Fieldwork in complex and hostile places training prior to your travel.
- An explanation of how you will mitigate the risks outlined by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Smartraveller (if applicable).
When approving your application, your supervisors will need to indicate that they support the travel and acknowledge that the risks involved in this travel have been discussed.
Go to Travel and off campus work for more information on the requirements above.
Travel risk assessment
You are required to complete the travel or Fieldwork Risk Assessment Form in consultation with your supervisor. A risk assessment form is required for all travel and fieldwork applications.
For more information and the Risk assessment form, see Travel and off campus work.
Travelling to high risk destinations
Travel to locations listed as ‘do not travel’ or ‘reconsider your need to travel’ on Smartraveller will only be approved with permission from the Academic Registrar, and if you meet all of the following conditions:
- You are able to demonstrate language proficiency, local networks and support, and deep knowledge of the destination of your travel.
- The travel is essential, and you have identified risks and have demonstrated the capacity to manage these risks.
- You are a permanent resident or citizen of that country.
Make sure you complete all sections in the Travel to High Risk Destinations Risk Assessment Form:
- Identify the hazards as listed by Smartraveller.gov.au for the high risk destination.
- Summarize the hazards in detail (we advise you to take this word for word from the smartraveller website).
- Describe the safety and risk mitigation plan/s you will use to minimise these hazards – each hazard must be addressed individually.
See the Student Travel and Transport Policy for more information.
You are required to have travel insurance for the duration of your enrolment-related travel. Our insurance page is a good place to start investigating for your Study Away.
You may be eligible for free travel insurance through the University, however strict conditions apply:
- You must apply at least five University business days prior to departure.
- If the University's travel insurance does not meet your needs, you must obtain travel insurance elsewhere that suits you better.
- University owned equipment, like computers, are covered by separate insurance.
- If you are planning personal travel while on Study Away, travel insurance provided by the University may not cover you.
Please note: for travel to high risk locations, you need to include a formal letter of approval from your principal supervisor.
Check with the University’s Insurance Office via Stop 1 before you apply.
Apply for Study Away
Before you apply, make sure you have completed all necessary steps as outlined in Preparing to apply for Study Away and ensure that you have completed all sections in the online 'Request to Study Away' form.
- Step 1
- Submit the 'Request to Study Away' form online
- Step 2
- Receive application confirmation email
- Step 3
- Form automatically forwarded for academic approval by supervisor and head of department
- Step 4
- Form forwarded to Academic Registrar for approval
- Step 5
- Receive system notification of application outcome
How to get help
Get technical help
Follow these steps to get help if you are having an issue with the online 'Request to Study Away' form.
- See a list of known technical issues, and how to get around these
Get technical help
- If you cannot see your technical issue in the list above, or if you are having issues with your username or password, contact Stop1.
Get other form help
If you have a question about filling in the online 'Request to Study Away' form, or your degree details on the form are not correct, contact your local graduate research administrator.
If you need more information about study away, you can talk to:
- your supervisors
- your advisory committee chair
- your local graduate research administrator.
My application is approved – what next?
Before you return from your Study Away, you need to submit your 'Request to Return from Study Away' online form and you should let your supervisor know that you are ready to return.
If your itinerary/travel plans change
If you are returning earlier than planned from your Study Away, contact your supervisor to let them know and submit your 'Request to Return from Study Away' online form.
If there is a change in location, due to issues of access for example, email your supervisor and graduate research administrator with updated information as soon as possible.
If you need to extend your Study Away period, a new application has to be submitted and approved well before the end of the current Study Away period.
Emergencies while away
If you experience an emergency during your Study Away, contact your supervisor and your travel Insurance company as soon as you can. Your travel insurance should be able to cover you for emergencies and provide assistance.
If danger or natural disasters are reported in the area you are in or planned to travel to, you will be contacted by the Safer Community Program notifying you of the problem and you may need to sign a disclaimer that you are aware of any dangers, if you choose to remain in the location.
Staying in touch with supervisors
It is important to stay in touch with your supervisor while you are on Study Away. It will keep the supervisor updated on your progress and helps the University to track your whereabouts for emergency situations.
Return from Study Away
You will need to let the University know when you are coming back from your Study Away by completing a 'Request to Return from Study Away' form.
By completing the online 'Request to Return from Study Away' form, you are notifying the scholarships office at the same time.
You will receive a reminder email if you fail to submit the return from 'Request to Return from Study Away' form by your due date (the end of your Study Away period). If you still fail to complete the form, your candidature and/or scholarship may be cancelled and you may be charged a reinstatement fee.