The Research Training Scheme

Please note that from January 1 2017 the Research Training Scheme will become the Research Training Program (RTP).

For more information please see the Research Training Program webpage

What is the RTS?

The Research Training Scheme (RTS) is a Commonwealth Government funded performance-based scheme. The RTS objectives are to:

  • Enhance the quality of research training provision in Australia.
  • Improve the responsiveness of HEPs to the needs of their research students.
  • Encourage Higher Education Provider's (HEPs) to develop their own research training profiles.
  • Ensure the relevance of research degree programs to labour market requirements.
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of research training.

It provides funding to universities to support the training of research students, including funding for fee-exempt places for students enrolled in Higher Degree Research courses.

Prior to the commencement of RTS on 1 September 2000, the Commonwealth Government allocated universities a certain number of Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-exempt scholarships to fund postgraduate research students. In comparison and very simplistically, RTS funds universities by the number of students it attracts, rewarding universities that are most able to attract students, presumably due to the high-quality environment and resources they provide.

For a further background on the RTS, please see the Department of Education and Training.

What does the RTS do for me?

The Research Training Scheme provides an exemption from course fees (Higher Education Contribution Scheme / HECS) for eligible students who commenced a Higher Degree Research (HDR) course after 31 August 2000. Students who gain such an exemption are said to have an "RTS place".

It also provides the University with funds to provide adequate resources to support research students. This includes the UNE Strategic Doctoral Scholarships and other resources made available to HDR students at UNE.

Who is eligible for RTS?

Australian citizens, permanent residents and citizens of New Zealand enrolled in an appropriate Higher Degree Research (HDR) course that commenced on, or after 1 September 2000 are eligible for an RTS place.

An eligible research programme is defined as having "a minimum of two-thirds of its assessable content by research and the assessment process must involve at least one qualified examiner external to the institution" (RTS Guidelines 2004). Students enrolled in undergraduate degrees, postgraduate coursework degrees and higher doctorates are not eligible.

Eligibility is not a guarantee that a student will gain an RTS place. The number of new places offered by an institution will depend on the funds available to the institution based on the enrolments, completions of higher research degrees and research activity of the institution according to a complex formula.

What if I transfer?

Transferring courses?

The RTS entitlement used during one degree is debited from the RTS entitlement of the degree to which the student transfers. 

For example, if a student has spent 3 semesters full-time in a Masters and transfers to a PhD then they only have 3 semesters full-time in the PhD before the RTS entitlement is exhausted. Or if a student transfers to a Masters after 8 part-time semesters in a PhD then there is no RTS entitlement for the Masters as the maximum RTS available for a Masters degree has been exhausted.

Transferring universities?

If approval is been given for a student to transfer his/her studies to another institution, the RTS entitlement consumed towards the degree at the first institution is debited from the RTS entitlement of the degree in the institution to which the student transfers.  It is the total length of the research degree that is considered.

Transferring students are required to provide a signed statement about their enrolment and consumption of RTS at the previous institution so that their remaining entitlement can be determined.

What if I discontinue?

Students who have discontinued their studies may be eligible for consideration for a RTS place if they re-enrol in a research higher degree course at a later date. If a student resumes their studies within three years, they will have the period of their prior enrolment deducted from their maximum entitlement under the RTS. If the time between enrolments is greater than three years then the full entitlement may be granted.

What if I've already had RTS?

A student who has completed a Masters, whether from overseas or in Australia under the RTS Scheme, is eligible for the maximum RTS for the PhD.

A student with a PhD who wishes to enrol in a second PhD is eligible for the maximum RTS for the PhD.

What if I suspend my studies?

The RTS entitlement is not affected by periods of suspensions totaling a maximum of 12 months.

If a student spends some time at another institution while studying for their degree then this is not counted as a suspension. The student must be enrolled during this period away from the University and hence it would be counted towards their RTS.

The RTS Guidelines are available on the Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education website.

For more information, please visit the Contact Us page