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Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Procedure

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Section 1 - Purpose and Scope

(1) This Procedure outlines the processes for the registration, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of advisors to higher degree by research (HDR) candidates at The University of Queensland (UQ or the University). The Procedure enacts the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy.

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Section 2 - Process and Key Controls

(2) This Procedure applies to all staff eligible to act as a principal or associate advisor to HDR candidates at UQ.

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Section 3 - Key Requirements

(3) UQ works towards developing an inclusive framework for appointing and supporting HDR advisors that is informed by Australian Council of Graduate Research Guidelines for Quality Graduate Research Supervision and Supervision: A guide to supporting the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. Such a framework will provide clarity around the role and expectations of principal and associate advisors as well as confidence in the quality of supervision. These expectations are also articulated in the ‘Supervision and Researcher Development’ domain of the Annual Performance and Development (APD) for Academic Staff.

(4) The supervision of HDR candidates at UQ is undertaken by an advisory team, led by the Principal Advisor. The Principal Advisor must be registered on the UQ Principal Advisor Registry, which is an up-to-date record of all who are eligible to act as Principal Advisors to HDR candidates at UQ. The registry ensures that UQ is compliant with the Higher Education Standards that are assessed by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), that academic staff have the skills and knowledge to supervise students throughout their HDR candidature, ensuring that they develop as researchers and future knowledge leaders.

Advisory Roles and Responsibilities

(5) All advisors are responsible for:

  1. provision of advice to candidates on the design and execution of a research project that can produce an examinable thesis within the normal period of candidature;
  2. provision of advice to candidates and monitoring of the scope, quality, and presentation of work required;
  3. supporting candidates to produce a thesis that constitutes original and a significant contribution to research in their field, and meets expectations of the degree;
  4. supporting the timely completion of a candidate’s HDR program (within 4 years FTE for PhD and 2 years FTE for M Phil);
  5. supporting the development of transferable and professional skills of the HDR candidate through structured discussion and advice; and
  6. maintaining an advisory load of a minimum of 10%.

(6) The Principal Advisor:

  1. guides and facilitates the research work of the candidate;
  2. provides the principal intellectual engagement with the candidate's research topic and its development;
  3. ensures that they maintain regular contact and communication with the candidate and that the mechanisms for doing so are agreed upon by all parties;
  4. is responsible for notifying the Graduate School immediately of any changes affecting the student’s candidature, including absences;
  5. ensures the candidate understands their rights and obligations under and complies with all discipline-specific and relevant UQ research policy including all Researcher Conduct policies, the Responsible Research Management Framework Policy and the Intellectual Property Policy;
  6. ensures the candidate understands their obligations and complies with all relevant UQ workplace health and safety policies and Supervision: A guide to supporting the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research;
  7. ensures that the candidate meets all academic and administrative requirements of the program, and ensures that the Dean, Graduate School, the enrolling Academic Organisational Unit (AOU), and all other members of the advisory team are kept informed of the candidate’s academic progress, via the milestone process, and of any relevant personal, academic, technical, or resource-related issues that may affect their progress;
  8. where the Principal Advisor will be absent for a period of 4 or more weeks, the Director of HDR must be advised and a plan for supervisory arrangements must be made;
  9. where the Principal Advisor will be absent for a period of 6 or more months a new advisory team must be appointed, upon recommendation by the Director of HDR to the Dean, Graduate School;
  10. provides nominations of suitable examiners and certification that a thesis is ready for examination to the Dean, Graduate School, in accordance with the Higher Degree by Research Examination Policy; and
  11. provides a plan for the ongoing supervision of their HDR candidates to the Head of AOU and the Dean prior to leaving the University (or not being eligible to continue as a Principal Advisor for any other reason).

(7) The Associate Advisor:

  1. engages with and supports the candidate in the their progress towards the successful completion of their HDR;
  2. provides continuity of support during periods of absence by the Principal Advisor; and
  3. provides input into discussions regarding candidate progression and development.


(8) New applications to the Principal Advisor Registry must be recommended by the applicant’s Head of AOU and endorsed by the Dean, Graduate School.

(9) Continuing or fixed-term academic staff at UQ, or those holding a visiting or honorary position, are an Academic Title Holder will be eligible for registration if:

  1. they meet the criteria for Principal Advisors set out in the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy;
  2. they are currently a Principal Advisor of an HDR candidate at another university; and
  3. they have completed the mandatory HDR Advisor Development modules required for registration and have accepted the appointment on the advisory team.

(10) An advisory team must comprise an experienced Associate Advisor if the Principal Advisor is relatively new to HDR supervision (has not completed a HDR candidate as an advisor or holds less than 4 years supervisory experience).

(11) All advisory team members must complete the first two online modules of Cultural Awareness training and also the Indigenous HDR Candidate Advisory training module.

Maintaining Registration

(12) The UQ Graduate School will maintain the UQ Principal Advisor Registry.

(13) University staff who are registered as Principal Advisors will continue to be registered unless one of the following conditions apply:

  1. they cease employment with the University and there is no subsequent adjunct or honorary title, academic title or industry fellow appointment;
  2. they are no longer research active as assessed by a Head of AOU;
  3. they do not renew their registration; or
  4. they have had their Principal Advisor privileges revoked.

(14) Adjunct and honorary title holders, academic title holders and Industry Fellow appointments who are registered as Principal Advisors will continue to be registered unless one of the following conditions apply:

  1. they cease their appointment with the University;
  2. they are no longer research active;
  3. they do not renew their registration; or
  4. they have had their Principal Advisor privileges revoked.

(15) Principal Advisors who no longer meet the requirements for registration may continue to act as Associate Advisors for current HDR candidates. Associate Advisors do not require registration.

Renewing Registration

(16) To renew registration, Principal Advisors will need to confirm that they are up-to-date with policies regarding research training and supervision at UQ by completing the mandatory Advisor Development Program.

(17) The Graduate School will maintain an Essentials Manual for HDR Supervision, which may be a point of reference for Principal Advisors.

(18) Registration is to be renewed every five years and should be renewed within 12 months of expiry.

Managing Advisor Performance

(19) The Dean, Graduate School and the Head of the AOU of the Principal Advisor, are responsible for ensuring that Principal Advisors within the University meet the registration requirements, including the use of the Supervision and Research Development section of the academic annual performance and development process.

(20) For University staff members:

  1. the Head of AOU will discuss any concerns with the Principal Advisor and, where required, implement a development plan and provide the Principal Advisor guidance and set a timeframe to rectify the concerns, which may include the factors detailed in clause 23 or subsequent to a grievance or misconduct matter relating to academic performance expectations.
  2. the Dean, Graduate School will be consulted during the preparation of the development plan.
  3. if the problems have not been satisfactorily resolved following the time period set, the registration may be revoked. 

(21) The Dean, Graduate School is the decision-maker regarding Principal Advisor de-registration following discussion and advice from the Head of AOU.

(22) Recommendations for de-registration must be made to the Dean, Graduate School along with a supervisory plan for the Principal Advisor's current candidates.

(23) Factors that may justify revoking registration include but are not limited to:

  1. no longer research active;
  2. a record of candidates impacted due to poor supervision, as substantiated by the Head of AOU and the Dean, Graduate School;
  3. evidence of multiple requests to change the Principal Advisor by candidates where the standard of supervision is substantiated as a factor in the change request and evidence of a pattern of non-compliance with research training policies, procedures and guidelines;
  4. substantiated research misconduct as per the Managing Complaints about the Conduct of Research - Higher Degree by Research Candidates Procedure; or
  5. formal complaints regarding supervisory practices which have been substantiated after investigation in accordance with Misconduct/Serious Misconduct clauses as outlined in the UQ Enterprise Agreement 2021-2026 (or as amended or replaced).

(24) The Dean, Graduate School, in consultation with the relevant Faculty Executive Dean or Institute Director, will issue a notice of de-registration, and where appropriate a period of time is given before re-registration would be considered, and the steps required to re-register.

(25) For adjunct and honorary title holders, academic title holders and industry fellow appointments:

  1. The Dean, Graduate School will refer concerns regarding HDR supervision to the Head of AOU.
  2. If the Head of AOU, in consultation with the Dean, Graduate School determines that advisor development is required, they will consult with the Principal Advisor and their non-University employer and give the Principal Advisor a reasonable amount of time to rectify any problems.
  3. If after having given the Principal Advisor time to rectify any problems, the Head of AOU believes that the problems have not been satisfactorily resolved, they may recommend to the Dean, Graduate School that registration be revoked.

(26) Any matters related to alleged misconduct will be dealt with in accordance with the Enterprise Agreement.

(27) Subject to the University’s reporting obligations, matters of de-registration are confidential to the University.


(28) A Principal Advisor previously de-registered under clauses 12-15 or clauses 19-27 may apply to the Dean, Graduate School to be re-registered.

(29) The application must:

  1. demonstrate that the conditions that lead to the Principal Advisor being deregistered have been resolved and any training requirements have been met;
  2. include a formal performance management plan where the registration had lapsed owing to poor performance as a Principal Advisor; and
  3. be endorsed by the Head of AOU.
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Section 4 - Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Dean, Graduate School

(30) The Dean, Graduate School (or their delegate) is responsible for the governance and procedures of the HDR programs at UQ, including appropriate enrolment conditions HDR candidates.

Head of the Academic Organisational Unit

(31) The Head of the enrolling AOU (Head of School, Institute Director, or equivalent), responsible for ensuring appropriate HDR resourcing, AOU research culture and environment and quality of HDR advisor performance.

Director of Higher Degree Research

(32) The Director of HDR makes HDR program decisions on behalf of the Head of AOU, including decisions on the nomination of Principal Advisor and Associate Advisors.

Principal Advisors

(33) Principal Advisors are approved UQ staff members who take primary academic responsibility for the candidate during their candidature.

(34) The detailed academic role, accountabilities and eligibility for Principal Advisors are specified in the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy.


(35) Advisors are suitably qualified persons who provide expertise related to the candidate’s research and are available to provide advice throughout candidature.

(36) The detailed academic role, accountabilities and eligibility for advisors are specified in the Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy.

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Section 5 - Monitoring, Review and Assurance

(37) Review of, and compliance with, this Procedure is overseen by the Dean, Graduate School and the Academic Board's Higher Degree by Research Committee.

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Section 6 - Recording and Reporting

(38) All HDR application and program enrolment transactions and activities are recorded within UQ’s student application and administrative systems (SI-net and TRIM), including advisory team members and advisory registry status. All student records including final outcome, applications and University decisions are filed in the student’s personal record in UQ’s digital student application, admission and record systems (UQ Online Applications System, SI-net-net, TRIM).

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Section 7 - Definitions, Terms, and Acronyms

Term Definition
AQF Australian Qualifications Framework.
Dean Dean, Graduate School or delegate.
Enrolling AOU An Academic Organisational Unit of UQ that directly enrols HDR candidates.
HDR Higher Degree by Research.
MPhil Master of Philosophy.
PhD Doctor of Philosophy.
Professional Doctorate (research) (PDRes) A professional doctorate administered by the UQ Graduate School where at least two thirds of the program is research.