10. Grant administration

Administrative obligations and processes specific to Postgraduate Scholarship awardees are outlined below. Unless otherwise stated, these are in addition to the general requirements set out in the NHMRC Funding Agreement, section 12 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017 and on the NHMRC website:

10.1 Variations

Refer to section 12.5 of the NHMRC Funding Rules 2017 prior to considering a variation.

In general, variation requests should include the following information:

  • A statement from the postgraduate scholar outlining the reasons why the variation is required
  • A statement of support from the current Supervisor

Further information regarding grantee variations is provided in the NHMRC Variations Policy, which can be found on the NHMRC website:

10.2 Acceptance of a Postgraduate Scholarship

Successful applicants must accept an offer of award of a Postgraduate Scholarship by the nominated acceptance date. All conditions of the grant must be met in order for any payment from NHMRC to commence.

Postgraduate Scholars who have accepted an offer of an award are expected to commence on 1 January of the first year of the award. Any variations must be in accord with the NHMRC Variations Policy.

NHMRC may, at its discretion for what it considers sufficient cause, suspend the tenure of a Postgraduate Scholarship for such time as is thought fit, or withdraw the Postgraduate Scholarship and all payments.

10.3 Suspension of a Postgraduate Scholarship

Postgraduate Scholars may apply to suspend their award in accordance with NHMRC’s Variations Policy.

The Scholarship will be extended by a period of time equal to the duration of the suspension. 

10.4 Transfer to/from Part-time Status

10.4.1 Full-time Scholarships converting to Part-time Status

NHMRC recognises that the personal circumstances of Postgraduate Scholars can change over time and that the need for a scholar to continue in a full-time arrangement may no longer apply to their situation.

Full-time Postgraduate Scholars may apply to undertake a period of their award on a part-time basis for such personal reasons as providing parental or family support, but not for vocational reasons such as wishing to work part-time as a lecturer, or as a medical or health professional practitioner (section 5.4.3).  Requests to convert to part-time will be considered by NHMRC on a case-by-case basis and must have the support of the Scholar’s Administering Institution. 

All requests for a change to part-time must be supported in writing by the Scholar’s supervisor.

In all cases where part-time status is approved, payments will be adjusted to the appropriate pro-rata rate, determined by the percentage of time spent on research. The duration of the Scholarship will be extended accordingly, up to a maximum period of six years (refer to section 5.4).

10.4.2 Part-time Scholarships converting to Full-time Status

While part-time Postgraduate Scholarships are intended to be part-time at the indicated FTE rate for the duration of the award, holders may request conversion to full-time. Where a request to convert or return to full-time is approved, the remaining part-time portion of the scholarship will be converted to the full-time equivalent of that part-time rate (i.e. if 2 years remain on a scholarship held at 0.5 FTE, it will be converted to one year full-time).

10.4.3 Parental leave

Parental Leave is paid in accordance with the arrangements applicable at the Postgraduate Scholar’s Administering Institution, up to a limit of 12 weeks, per instance of parental leave. Leave taken beyond the 12 weeks is permitted, but is not paid by NHMRC. The institution may, however, continue payments under its Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. If the Postgraduate Scholar wishes to take parental leave beyond 12 weeks, they will need to suspend their Scholarship (see section 10.3).

The duration of the Postgraduate Scholarship will be extended by the amount of parental leave, whether paid or unpaid, that is taken.

Parental leave required under State and Territory legislation will be managed separately by the Administering Institution.

10.4.4 Recreational Leave

Postgraduate Scholars shall be entitled to recreational leave in accordance with the conditions applied by the Administering Institution.  All leave must be taken prior to the termination of the Postgraduate Scholarship. If the leave taken is longer than the period of recreational leave accrued, a request to suspend the Postgraduate Scholarship should be submitted (refer to section 10.3).

10.4.5 Sick Leave

Postgraduate scholars who have been unable to continue with their studies through illness or misadventure are entitled to stipend support, in accordance with the provisions of the scholar’s Administering Institution up to a maximum of 12 weeks for the duration of the Scholarship. This does not extend the duration of the Postgraduate Scholarship. Postgraduate Scholars wishing to extend their period of sick leave beyond this period may do so by suspending their Postgraduate Scholarship for up to a further 12 months. NHMRC will not provide stipend support for this extended period (if granted). 

Postgraduate Scholars must advise details of such suspensions to NHMRC through their RAO and must include:

  • Documentation supporting the reason for the suspension (medical certificates etc)
  • A statement from the Postgraduate Studies Office verifying suspension of study
  • A statement from the supervisor confirming the circumstances.

The duration of the Postgraduate Scholarship will be extended to compensate for the period of suspension (if granted).

10.4.6 Transfer to a different Administering Institution

Where a variation involves a move to a different Administering Institution, the Postgraduate Scholar must make a request in writing through RGMS. If the proposed change is made without approval from NHMRC, Postgraduate Scholarship funding will cease.

Refer to the NHMRC website for further information.

10.4.7 Extensions to Postgraduate Scholarships

In limited exceptional circumstances, requests to extend the duration of a Postgraduate Scholarship may be approved.  Exceptional circumstances would normally be for events outside the Postgraduate Scholar’s control, such as external disasters (e.g. fires) affecting their project, but does not include situations relating to normal research activities (e.g. pursuing a novel discovery in the course of planned experiments), the success/failure or progress of experiments, the writing of a thesis or matters of a personal nature. The maximum period for which a funded extension can be granted is up to six months. Funding will cease from the date the awardee submits their thesis, even if the extension period has not yet lapsed. Scholars are required to inform the NHMRC when they submit their thesis, and provide evidence of submission date.  No extensions are possible for Masters students.

In all cases, requests to extend a Postgraduate Scholarship must be submitted in writing through RGMS.  Requests must be supported in writing by the Postgraduate Scholar’s Supervisor and with the approval of the Postgraduate Studies Office (or its equivalent) of the institution administering the Postgraduate Scholarship. Evidence of the Postgraduate Studies Office approval must be included with the request. 

10.4.8 Conversion of Masters Scholarships

NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarships awarded for a Masters degree will not be extended if converting to a PhD.

 10.5 Reporting

No progress or final scientific reporting is required for Scholars.

The Administering Institution has financial reporting requirements including annual Financial Statements and a Final Acquittal Statement.  Refer to the Financial Reporting page of the NHMRC website for further information.