Policy Directory


Date first approved:

11 September 2017

Date of effect:

11 September 2017

Date last amended:
(refer to Version Control Table)

Date of Next Review:

11 September 2022

First Approved by:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation)

Custodian title & e-mail address:

Manager, Graduate Research School,


Sue Flint, Graduate Research School

Responsible Division & Unit:

RAID, Graduate Research School

Supporting documents, procedures & forms:

Code of Practice – Research
General Course Rules

Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints Policy

Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy

Research Misconduct Policy

Relevant Legislation &

External Documents:

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research




1 Introduction/Background

  • 1. Under the University of Wollongong General Course Rules, it is the University’s responsibility to monitor the progress of all Higher Degree Research (HDR) students.
  • 2. There are several key milestones in the HDR student life cycle where students’ progress is reviewed and those who may not be progressing satisfactorily can be identified and provided with support. The major milestones are the Research Proposal Review (RPR), which takes place in the first year of research and the Annual Progress Report (APR) which is completed annually.

2 Scope / Overview

  • 1. These guidelines are based on the UOW Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy and apply to all HDR students, their supervisors and academic schools.

    2. As well as these guidelines, school and faculty procedures should at all times adhere with the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision & Resources Policy, Code of Practice – Research and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the relevant Higher Degree Research Course Rules, and faculty handbooks.

    3. These policies will be made available to students at the time of Orientation. The guidelines are also applicable if the student or supervisor disagrees with the assessment of progress.

3 Definitions


Definition (with examples if required)


Associate Dean Research


Annual Progress Report


Dean of Research


Graduate Research School


Higher Degree Research


Head of Postgraduate Studies


Research Proposal Review

4 Supervisor Responsibilities

  • 1. The full range of responsibilities of supervisors is detailed in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy.

    2. The primary responsibility of the HDR supervision team is to supervise and guide the HDR student through the process of researching and writing the thesis and through the subsequent examination process. The supervision and guidance includes providing advice and instruction, support and mentoring, review and criticism to enable the student to complete the research and produce a thesis to the best of the student’s ability.

    3. It is the responsibility of the supervisor(s) to advise the student promptly of unsatisfactory progress with regard to any aspect of the research program, the agreed timetable or deadlines, performance in prescribed coursework (in consultation with the subject coordinator or tutor), attendance, interaction with other students or technical staff, and observance of laboratory or other practical guidelines (including occupational health and safety).

    4. The supervisor(s) must put this advice in writing if unsatisfactory progress is considered likely to interfere with satisfactory completion of the research by the agreed deadlines.

    5. If circumstances arise where a supervisor becomes unable to carry out their normal supervisory responsibilities (ie due to a period of leave, or an unexpected and significant increase of other academic responsibilities), then the supervisor, and HPS have a responsibility to ensure alternative supervisory arrangements are made and that the student is advised, in writing, of any such changes in supervision.

5 Student Responsibilities

  • 1. The full range of responsibilities of HDR students is outlined in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy

    2. All students should become familiar with their procedural and substantive rights and responsibilities and the requirements outlined in the First Interview Checklist, which covers the first meeting between a student and their supervision team.

    3. It is the responsibility of students to inform their supervisors of problems affecting the progress of the research as they arise. These problems may include personal, academic and resource problems.

    4. These problems should be documented formally by the student within one month of their occurrence if not resolved.

    5. If a student does not believe that his/her supervisor or supervisors are meeting supervisory responsibilities as defined in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy, then the student should raise their concerns with their supervisor(s).

    6. If the student is not satisfied with the response by the supervisor(s), then s/he should raise the matter with the HPS.

    7. If the student feels unable to discuss some issues affecting candidature with supervisor(s) s/he should contact the HPS, Head of Unit, the Dean of Students, the GRS or a student advocate and seek advice on the best course of action.

    8. Students who are unable to reach an informal resolution to any problems or issues affecting their study should follow the process outlined in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints Policy.

6 Research Proposal Reviews (RPR)

  • 1. As part of their responsibilities to HDR students outlined in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Supervision and Resources Policy and the HDR Course Rules, faculties are expected to establish procedures for a formal review of the candidate’s research proposal.

    2. Faculties must follow the process documented in the UOW Research Proposal Review Guidelines when implementing their RPRs.

7 Annual Progress Report

  • 1. The GRS undertakes a formal annual review of progress of all HDR students in the latter part of each year in the form of an APR.

    2. Written reports from the student and the supervisors are an important and formal means to monitor the progress of the student. Each report should be a forthright appraisal of the student’s progress by both the supervisor(s) and the student.

    3. It is essential that the completion of the APR is treated seriously by students and their supervisors. When requests for extensions to candidature or scholarships are made, or other problems occur, APRs are reviewed to determine whether delays were noted and discussed at the time, and what action was taken.

    4. It is important that supervisors provide accurate reports including any concerns they may have about the progress of a student. By noting these it provides the opportunity for discussion and for setting clearer objectives.

    5. It is the responsibility of the student to complete the appropriate section and submit the form to the supervisor(s) by the due date. Ideally the supervisor(s) and student should meet to discuss progress and the completion of the student’s and supervisor’s sections before submission.

    6. After the student and supervisor(s) have completed their sections of the form, the supervisor will submit the APR to the Faculty’s HPS, who will review the report and make a recommendation concerning the student’s ongoing candidature.

    7. If the progress of the student is Satisfactory the APR will be submitted to GRS for re-enrolment.

    8. If the recommendations are Satisfactory – with Issue, Borderline or Unsatisfactory the HPS will make a recommendation on any remedial action before referring the APR to the ADR. Students will be advised by GRS of the Associate Dean, Research recommendation.

    9. HDR students who do not complete Section 1 or 3 of the APR by the due dates will be given one written warning by the Graduate Research School. Those students who have not completed Section 1 or 3 by the due date following the written warning will have their candidature discontinued.

    10. Re-enrolment once discontinued, may only be possible by submitting a new application for admission through the on-line admission process.

    11. Students are responsible for checking if their APR has been submitted by the due dates.

8 Probation

  • 1. If unsatisfactory progress matters are not resolved within the Faculty, the ADR may recommend to the DOR that a period of probation is necessary. 
  • 2. Faculties cannot place students on formal probation.  Probation is a formal University process that can only be imposed by the DOR.
  • 3. Faculties will advise the GRS of students who are to be placed on probation. The GRS will notify students. Students are given 20 days to appeal the probation.
  • 4. The faculty will appoint a senior academic as probation supervisor to oversee the current supervision process and research progress for a period of not less than three months and not more than one year.
  • 5. The Probation supervisor will complete a Probation Milestones Agreement within two weeks of commencement of the probation period.  The Probation Milestones Agreement will detail a series of goals and milestones which are agreed between the student and all supervisors.  The Agreement is to be signed by the student and the probation supervisor.
  • 6. At the end of probation period, the probation supervisor will provide a Final Probation Report to the DOR including a summary of milestones achieved during probation, a statement on the effectiveness of supervisory practices and a recommendation regarding the student’s future enrolment.
  • 7. The recommendations may include: continuation of enrolment; termination of candidature; course transfer; change of supervisor or appointment of a panel of supervisors; including members from outside the academic unit. 
  • 8. Once the DOR has made their determination on the student’s future enrolment, the student is then advised of the outcome through the GRS and is given 20 working days to appeal the decision.
  • 9. Students who wish to appeal the DOR’s decision on the probation outcome should follow the process outlined in the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints Policy.

9 Complaints Policy and Procedures

  • 1. Any problems or disagreements encountered during the HDR candidature, other than allegations of research misconduct, that cannot be immediately or easily resolved between the student and the supervisor should be dealt with in accordance with the Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints Policy.

10 Version Control and Change History

Version Control

Date Effective

Approved By



11 September 2017

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research& Innovation)

First formal guidelines. Replaces informal HDR Progress Review guidelines.

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