Enrolment management

The Graduate Research School is dedicated to supporting Higher Degree Research candidates by managing all aspects of candidature, from enrolment to thesis submission and examination. We have summarised some important things you need to know about managing your enrolment and candidature below.

Managing your Enrolment & Candidature

HDR candidates may apply to make changes to their candidature and the change must be processed by the census date for the current session of enrolment. Please discuss any changes with your supervisor/s in the first instance.

Changes to enrolment requests with all required documentation as specified in the relevant section below need to be submitted to the Graduate Research School by 24 March for Autumn Session and 24 August for Spring Session, to allow for processing time.

Higher Degree Research Award Rules 

If you still need to enrol in your course and/or subjects, please follow these handy guides:

Domestic student enrolment guide

International student enrolment guide

Coursework subjects

HDR candidates who are admitted to a Master of Philosophy (previously called a Masters by Research), Professional Doctorate or the Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) are required to complete coursework subjects prior to, commencing the thesis component of their degree. Supervisors requiring HDR candidates to complete coursework MUST include the subject details in the HDR application approval process so that they can be included in the HDR admission offer letter. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring subjects are compliant with approved course structures.

Re-enrolment process for continuing HDR candidates

All re-enrolling HDR candidates will be re-enrolled automatically at the beginning of each academic year by the Graduate Research School, once a satisfactory Annual Progress Report (APR) has been approved by the Associate Dean (Research) or nominee (Refer also to Section 8 of the HDR Handbook).

Purpose of Annual Progress Report (APR)

The Annual Progress Report (APR) is the means by which the University assesses whether the candidate will continue into the following year.  An APR from a candidate and their supervisors is an important and formal means to monitor the research candidate's progress.

The Annual Progress Report is designed to: 

  • help staff at the university appreciate the challenges you might be experiencing that could impede your progress,
  • enable staff at the university to address some or all these challenges,
  • evaluate the level of support you are receiving from the university.

This exercise, although mandatory, is designed to assist HDR candidates.  You cannot fail an annual progress report, for example.  However, if supervisors do not feel you have progressed adequately, the HPS may recommend intensive supervision to facilitate your progress – in line with the HDR Progression Procedures.


Importantly, from 2023 onwards, your responses will be confidential.  That is: 

  • your supervisors will never be granted access to your answers,
  • but candidates and supervisors are encouraged to discuss this report with each other,
  • in general, only your HPS can access your answers,
  • however, if complications unfold – such as complaints or other matters – other staff, such as the AD-HDR, Student Ombudsman, or Dean of Graduate Research, may be able to access your responses.

One warning rule:

HDR Candidates who do not complete the HDR candidate's report section of the APR by the due dates noted below will be given one written warning. Those candidates who have not completed the HDR candidate's report section by due date may have their candidature discontinued. Re-enrolment once discontinued, may only be possible by submitting a new application for admission through the online application process. Approval for admission in these cases will be at the Faculty’s discretion.

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

Directions for completing an Annual Progress Report

An Annual Progress Report will be made available online each year via SOLS. This report needs to be completed on-line by both yourself and your supervisor.

All HDR candidates are required to complete an APR in order to qualify for re-enrolment in the following year. You must complete an APR even if:

  • You are currently on Leave of Absence;
  • You commenced your higher degree research in Spring Session, or
  • You have submitted your thesis and have received a resolution from the Thesis Examination Committee to undertake a further period of study.

The Head of Postgraduate Studies and/or the Associate Dean (Higher Degree Research/Research) of the Faculty also need to approve the APR before it is returned to the Graduate Research School.

HDR candidates will not be re-enrolled without a completed APR.

New in 2023

From 2023, candidates and supervisors complete their sections of the APR concurrently, and privately:

  • Candidates and supervisors are encouraged to discuss this report with each other, however, neither will see the other's responses.
  • Only the HPS will see responses from the candidate and supervisor.
  • If complications arise, such as complaints or other matters – staff, including the AD-HDR, Student Ombudsman, or Dean of Graduate Research, may be able to access your responses.

Once responses are received from candidates and supervisors, HPS's will review candidate and supervisor responses and provide their HPS comments. 

Candidature variations (such as leave of absence, change of study pattern etc) will be initiated after the APR, by supervisors/HPS’s/candidates contacting the GRS with the relevant forms completed and signed by 24 March for Autumn Session and 24 August for Spring Session.

Annual progress review timetable


Actioned by

Due Date

Annual Progress Reviews (APRs) made available on SOLS – HDR candidates to begin discussing their APR with their Supervisor/s at this time

Graduate Research School

Monday 9 October 2023

HDR candidates and their Principal Supervisors to complete and submit their sections of the APR to their Head of Postgraduate Studies

HDR candidate & Supervisor

Friday 27 October 2023

Head of Postgraduate Studies to complete and submit their section of the APR.

Satisfactory APRs will be forwarded directly to GRS.

APRs with the recommendation of progress review by AD-HDR will be forwarded to the Associate Dean (Higher Degree Research/Research) for their review.

Head of Postgraduate Studies

Friday 1 December 2023

The Associate Dean (Higher Degree Research/Research) of the Faculty to review and submit their recommendation in the APR.

Associate Dean (Higher Degree Research/Research)

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Graduate Research School to process 2024 HDR re-enrolments

Graduate Research School

December 2023 to March 2024


A Leave of absence (LOA) is a period in which HDR candidates can take leave from their studies. A LOA may be granted for medical, compassionate or other acceptable reasons. Candidates should discuss any periods of intended leave with their supervisors. 

A LOA can only be approved for an entire session. It is not possible to take a part-session leave of absence. 

Depending on your circumstances and the period of leave you wish to take, there may be other types of leave that you can request.

Please visit AskUOW - What leave can I take as a HDR Candidate? for detailed information on how to apply for LOA and other leaves. Additional information about what leave option best suits your needs and how to manage complications around those leaves can be found in What leave option best suits my needs as a HDR Candidate?


Upgrading from Masters or a Professional Doctorate to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

To transfer from a Masters by Research degree or a Professional Doctorate to a Doctor of Philosophy in the same field of study the candidate must:

  • Have completed sufficient study in the Masters-Research or Professional Doctorate program at this University to allow an assessment of the capacity of the candidate to undertake independent research at a Doctoral Level. This would normally mean that candidates admitted to a program greater than 48 credit points would complete required coursework components of the degree and have completed approximately nine months of equivalent full-time candidature of their thesis component1 prior to application to transfer to a PhD;
  • Prove their capacity to undertake independent research by presenting a seminar reporting on the research topic to a group which must include:
    1. the primary supervisor, and/or co-supervisors
    2. a member of the Faculty Research Committee (FRC) or the Head of Postgraduate Studies (HPS); and
    3. an independent academic staff member with appropriate disciplinary expertise to appraise the research and requested transfer

The primary supervisor will prepare the Course transfer report on the candidates seminar which should be signed by the HPS. Once signed the final report will then be forwarded to the Graduate Research School for action.  

Downgrading from Doctor of Philosophy to Masters by Research

Voluntary downgrades: Should a student wish to downgrade from a Doctor of Philosophy to a Masters by Research degree, the Supervisor should approve the transfer and complete the course transfer report to be sent to the Graduate Research School who will adjust the enrolment accordingly.

Forced downgrades: Academic staff wishing to downgrade HDR candidate’s candidature to a Masters by Research degree as a result of inadequate progress noted in their Research Proposal Review or Probation Report or other process must provide a written report to the Dean of Research for consideration.

Please note: a HDR Credit for Prior Learning Application form (PDF: 256 KB) may be required. For more information, see How do I downgrade from a PhD to a Master of Philosophy?

Downgrading from a Higher Degree Research to a coursework degree

Under the current higher education legislation, it is not possible for candidates in a research degree to exit with a coursework degree. Candidates may transfer between research degrees as detailed above, cease HDR enrolment and apply for admission to a coursework program as a new course. Prior study may be granted as advanced standing, as per Course Rules 5.15-5.18. 

Domestic HDR candidates who have accrued an Equivalent Full Time Study Load (EFTSL) of >4 (greater than 4 years full-time study or 8 years part-time study) for doctoral candidates and >2 (greater than 2 years full time study or 4 years part-time study) for Master of Philosophy/Research candidates are classified as ‘overtime’ in their studies and are liable to pay fees for the remainder of their degrees.

The fees are currently $12,360 per session for full-time domestic HDR candidates and $6,180 per session for part-time domestic HDR candidates. Australian citizens are eligible to apply for fee help loans.

Special circumstances

Students who believe they have legitimate special circumstances, as defined in the fees policy, may apply for a sessional Domestic Postgraduate Tuition Award (DPTA). You must attach a letter, of no more than 2 x A4 pages outlining your special circumstances and explaining how these have affected your HDR studies.

See the special circumstances as defined in section 11.3 of the fees policy.

All special circumstances described in your DPTA application must have supporting documentation. See section 12 of the fees policy, which describes valid forms of supporting documentation. Note that if this documentation is not provided then your DPTA application will be rejected.

The DPTA applications are reviewed and approved by the Dean of Graduate Research.

Special circumstances do not include:

  • Lack of knowledge or understanding of this policy or government legislation
  • A failure to follow correct University procedures
  • A person's incapacity to repay a HELP debt

The deadline for DPTA applications is 27 February (for Autumn Session) and 27 July (for Spring Session).

Applications due to delays caused by the impact of COVID19

If your research was impeded by COVID-19, and you are in your final session of study you may apply for an extension to your candidature.

All applications must include the following:

  1. Up to two page statement detailing the impact of COVID-19 on your progress and how you have worked to mitigate the impact;
  2. Copy of your Contingency Plan and/or your APR from 2020; and
  3. Supporting statement from your Principal Supervisor.

Candidates wishing to change their thesis title must first seek permission from their supervisor(s). Written notification, counter-signed by the candidate’s supervisor(s) should be forwarded to the Graduate Research School.

The following information is for HDR candidates wishing to change their study load from full-time to part-time. If you are experiencing difficulties and are considering changing or withdrawing from subjects or your course, we encourage you to seek support before making this decision. Please make an appointment with your supervisor/s or connect with support services that the University offers free of charge.

It is strongly recommended that you consult with your supervisor/s before requesting changing your study load. Please note that certain scholarships may not allow you to change from full time to part time.

Once the change request is received, your application will be reviewed by the Graduate Research School and it needs to be approved by your supervisor and Head of Postgraduate Studies. If your application to change your study load is approved, your enrolment record will be amended accordingly. If your application is declined, you will be notified of this outcome via UOWmail and advised of the options available to you. 


  • All applications must be submitted by 24 March for Autumn session and 24 August for Spring session to allow for processing time.
  • All applications must be submitted by the student and are subject to approval.

Depending on the type of student, i.e. Domestic, International or Sponsored student, there are different actions to take to change a study load: 

Student Type  How to apply 
Domestic HDR candidates  Apply in SOLS – Student Forms: HDR – Change Study Load – Domestic. 
International HDR candidates on a student visa 

Complete Reduced Study Load Form

If you are an international HDR candidate on a student visa, you are required to complete your studies by the date listed on your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). Your visa status will be affected if you do not finish your course in the timeframe shown in your Confirmation of Enrolment. For more information see Student visa conditions.

You should not withdraw from your subject(s) before approval is granted. If you deliberately under-enrol or not follow advice from your Faculty, you may not get an extension of your COE. If that happens, you must complete your studies from your home country via distance studies. The University will only issue a new COE in Compassionate or compelling circumstances

International HDR candidates not on a student visa  Complete Reduced Study Load Form
Sponsored HDR candidates 

Complete Reduced Study Load Form

Students who have an official sponsorship arrangement with UOW and a third party will need to provide written permission (from the sponsor) that a part-time study load is approved. Please be aware that if your sponsor does not approve your Reduced Study Load, the University will not be able to proceed with your application. For more information, please contact the sponsorships team on scholarships@uow.edu.au.

To request the letters listed below you will need to apply in SOLS – Student Forms.

  • Completion Letter
  • Graduation Invitation for Overseas Guests
  • Statement of Status - Enrolment
  • Statement of Status - Scholarship
  • Statement of Status - Thesis Examination
  • Withdrawal of Course

Important information for managing your candidature

Student Online Services (SOLS) is a vital online tool that you will use to manage your enrolment. Some important tasks that you may perform in SOLS include:  

  • Requesting status letters 
  • Accessing eLearning (Moodle) 
  • Completing your APR 
  • Paying your fees  
  • Amending your personal details.   

Login to your SOLS on the Current Student page 

Census date is the last date in each session you can make changes to your enrolment for that session, without incurring fees. All enrolment changes need to be complete by the census date. This includes: 

  • Leave of Absence 
  • Variation of Course 
  • Research Degree Transfers 

Key dates

Equivalent Fulltime Study Load (EFTSL) is a measure of course progress. Progress in a HDR degree is measured differently than in a coursework degree: 

  • 1 EFTSL unit equals one year of full-time study 
  • 0.5 EFTSL = 1 session of full-time study 
  • 0.25 EFTSL = 1 session of part-time study 
  • 6 credit point subject equates to 0.125 EFTSL 

An accrued EFTSL is the effective full-time study period of a student’s candidature. For example an accrued EFTSL of 4 represents 4 years of full time study or 8 years of part-time study.

Candidates must understand the fee requirements for HDR courses: 

There are a range of HDR scholarships and awards available for eligible full-time HDR candidates at UOW. These scholarships include annual stipends, living allowances and tuition fee costs.  

All UOW students need to pay Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF).  

The time limits for course completion for domestic and International higher degree research candidates are specified by minimum and maximum submission dates of the thesis, which is calculated from the session of commencement. International students should also refer to their visa responsibilities in regard to completion times for their HDR course.

Domestic HDR candidates

Under the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) all HDR candidates who are Australian citizens or permanent residents will be allocated a Research Training Program (RTP) place.  This means that all domestic students enrolled in a PhD or Masters by Research are covered by a fee offset until they are over time.  An RTP place also means that there are maximum and minimum completion times. 

Maximum and minimum times

  • Doctorate degree by research: maximum of 4.0 EFTSL (4 years full-time or 8 years part-time equivalent study) and may be registered for a minimum of 1.5 EFTSL (1.5 years full-time or 3 years part-time equivalent study).

  • Master of Philosophy: maximum of 2.0 EFSTL (2 years full-time or 4 years part-time equivalent study) and may be registered for a minimum of 1.0 EFTSL (1 year full-time or 2 years part-time equivalent study).
  • Master of Research: the Master of Research thesis is a fixed duration of 1.0 EFTSL.

International HDR candidates

International students on a student visa are required to complete their studies within the time-frame listed on the students Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).

Doctorate degree by Research

  • A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for the Doctorate degree by research is typically four (4) years.*

Masters by Research

  • A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for the Masters by Research is typically two (2) years.*

There are limited circumstances in which an International student may extend the duration of their CoE. Reasons such as:

  • An approved leave of absence
  • An approved permission to reduce study load on compassionate or compelling grounds
  • An Interventional Strategy
  • Approval of advanced standing toward study.

*If an International HDR candidate's CoE expires before the completion of their course they must apply for a CoE extension (via their SOLS account). Extensions of CoE's are only issued on compassionate and/or compelling circumstances. Before applying, please familiarise yourself with the information provided on the CoE web page.