COVID-19 Stipend Extensions

Stipend extensions will be progressively available for doctoral candidates whose progress has been directly impacted by COVID-19.

Applications are now open to candidates whose stipend expires up to 30 June 2021.

Further application opening dates for this year are:

17 May 2021 - for stipends expiring 1 July - 30 September 2021

16 August 2021 - for stipends expiring 1 October - 31 December 2021

8 Nov 2021 - for stipends expiring 1 January -30 March 2022

Eligibility

You are eligible to apply for a stipend extension if you are a doctoral candidate on a stipend of 3.0-3.5 years duration, you have an approved candidature extension and your progress has been directly impacted by COVID-19.

Benefits

A stipend extension of:

  • Up to 12 weeks (full time equivalent) if you have lost significant productivity due to COVID-19
  • Up to 26 weeks (full time equivalent) if your project has been profoundly affected by COVID-19 to the extent that a major restructure or re-conception of the project is required to complete your research degree

The extension will be provided at the University standard scholarship rate ($31,200 pa pro rata in 2020) and is inclusive of any COVID-19 paid leave received as part of the maximum COVID support available.

Stipend extension will not be available beyond 4 years of candidature.

If your stipend has already finished and you are awarded a stipend extension, the extension will be paid to you as back-pay.

What is considered a direct COVID-19 disruption?

These are examples of direct COVID-19 disruptions that will be considered for stipend extension applications:

  • Being unable to undertake essential work due to travel restrictions
  • Key experiments or research significantly delayed while other work (e.g., writing of thesis) can't proceed
  • Ongoing restrictions necessitating significant reconfiguration of planned research, e.g., due to restricted access to library collections, equipment, laboratories, performance spaces, or study participants
  • Loss or delay of training and development vital to the project
  • Inadequate access to IT equipment required for study, lack of suitable area to work away from campus
  • Mental illness or significant mental health condition created or exacerbated by COVID-19
  • Additional carer responsibilities during the COVID-19 working-from-home restrictions
  • Being unable to work for an extended period due to COVID-19 infection

The following are not considered to be direct impacts of COVID-19 and are not eligible reasons to seek a stipend extension:

  • Seeking additional employment or changes in employment
  • Lack of employment
  • Returning to clinical or other work to support COVID-19 recovery
  • Volunteering
  • Other leave types (e.g., parental leave)
  • Project changes that do not require additional time to complete
  • Not progressing other aspects of the research that could have been undertaken during the working from home periods
  • Ordinary research delays, or research disruptions not due to COVID-19
  • Other disruptions not due to COVID-19

How to apply

If you are applying for an extension for lost productivity, you can claim for disruptions that:

  • occur up to the end date of your stipend only
  • have already occurred. If you experience further COVID-19 disruptions in the future and have not already received the maximum support for which you are eligible, you can apply again.

If you are applying for an extension for major restructure or reconception of your project, you must provide a revised research plan. Please note that re-scheduling your existing plan is not considered to be a major restructure.

  1. Discuss your application with your supervisor
  2. Prepare your supporting documents

    You must provide supporting documents for your application to be considered. These may include medical certificates, previously completed COVID-19 Research Impact Record (RIR) forms, revised research plans, notes from progress review meetings, diary notes from meetings with your supervisors, or other evidence of that kind.

    If you are applying for a stipend extension of more than 12 weeks, you must provide a revised research plan agreed with your supervisors, that sets out how you will achieve a quality project while minimising delays in an ongoing COVID environment.

    Please note: If you are applying on the basis of a mental illness or significant mental health condition exacerbated or caused by COVID-19, or if you have other chronic health conditions you do not wish to disclose to your supervisors, you should register with Student Equity and Disability Services (SEDS). They can create an adjustment plan/document that recognises your needs but does not necessarily disclose your condition. The adjustment plan will be held on your record. You can refer to your adjustment plan when making this or other relevant applications, rather than requiring separate medical certificates.

  3. Complete the application form available here
  4. Please note: a separate progress review will also need to take place with your advisory committee to confirm an extension to your candidature.

  5. Submit your application and supporting documents for your principal supervisor to complete their section of the form.

Who will review my application?

Your Principal supervisor and your Advisory Committee Chair will both be asked to provide comments on your application.

Applications for stipend extensions of up to 12 weeks will be decided at the faculty level.

Applications for stipend extensions beyond 12 weeks will be decided by a University committee.

If you are offshore

Stipend extensions are intended to support you to complete your research and enable you to submit your thesis for examination. The University is committed to working with our graduate researchers and their supervisors to work out the shortest path to submission of a quality thesis.

If you were offshore prior to the international border closures, you may claim for lost productivity for your time outside of Australia. If you chose to leave Australia after 20 March 2020 for personal reasons, you can apply only for lost productivity for the period you were in Australia.

If your research plan requires that you must physically return to Melbourne or Australia to complete your research, please discuss alternative approaches with your supervisors.

If  you have applied for a stipend extension on the basis of a major restructure and you need to return to Australia to complete your research, up to the first 12 weeks of approved extension will be paid while you are offshore. The remainder will be paid once you have returned to campus. We understand that, for some of you, this may mean taking a period of unpaid leave or changing to part time enrolment, until borders reopen.

What if I am not satisfied with the outcome of my application?

You may submit a complaint about a decision relating to the outcome of your COVID-19 stipend extension application, in accordance with the Student Complaints and Grievances Policy and following the existing guidelines on resolving issues.

If you cannot resolve the problem within the faculty, the University graduate research Covid-19 Stipend Extension Review Committee (COSEC) can hear requests for a review of decisions on stipend extensions on procedural grounds.

If you are not satisfied with outcomes from COSEC, and wish to make a formal complaint, you can do so in accordance with the Student Complaints and Grievances Policy. Your complaint must relate to an administrative or procedural matter.

If there is an allegation of an error in the assessment of the application related to academic judgement you may appeal to the Academic Secretary.