Enrolment, leave and changes to candidature

During your Higher Degree by Research (HDR) you will enrol each year, take leave and may make changes to your candidature.

Candidature consumption 

Candidature consumption refers to how the time left in your HDR reduces as you progress. 

Your candidature will start consuming from your research start date. Confirm your start date with your supervisory team. If you complete your enrolment after this date, your start date will become the date you complete the online enrolment process. 

As an HDR candidate you will consume candidature, except: 

  • During periods of approved leave of absence
  • If you cancel your enrolment in the program 
  • If RMIT cancels your enrolment for any reason 
  • After submission for examination


Enrolment in an HDR involves your initial program enrolment, enrolment in the research component of your HDR and enrolment in compulsory and optional coursework. You must enrol through Enrolment Online when you start your HDR and each year during the enrolment period (October to December). 

Admission and initial enrolment 

Once you accept your offer to study at RMIT, follow the Higher Degrees by Research guide to enrolment to secure your place. 

Research enrolment 

You must enrol into the research component of your HDR in Enrolment Online. These courses represent your research and the time that you spend with your supervisors. 

Full-time candidates must enrol into research courses with a total of 24 credit points per quarter (96 credit points for the year). Part-time candidates must enrol into research courses with a total of total 12 credit points per quarter (48 credit points per year). 

The research courses will be preselected for you. All you need to do is click ‘Enrol’ in Enrolment Online during the enrolment period (October to December). Don’t change the courses yourself. 


Once you have accepted your offer, you’ll be asked to nominate any compulsory or optional courses you’d like to enrol in for that year. In particular: 

Research methods/strategies 

All HDR programs at RMIT have a discipline specific research methods or research strategies course. This course must be completed within your first year of study (most candidates complete it in their first 6 months). 


Research techniques 

There are two optional research techniques courses available to all HDR candidates: Qualitative Research Techniques and Quantitative Research Techniques. You can enrol, with approval from your Senior Supervisor, after you have completed your research methods/strategies course. Forward their approval to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal


Other HDR courses 

A small number of programs require additional compulsory coursework, such as the School of Engineering. Contact Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal for more information. 


Non-HDR courses 

Occasionally, your supervisory team will suggest you complete a course not available as a part of your program. If this occurs, contact Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal for advice. 

Your coursework will be pre-allocated in Enrolment Online. All you need to do is click ‘Enrol’ in Enrolment Online during the enrolment period (October to December). Don’t change the courses yourself. 

Credit transfer 

If you completed coursework equivalent to your program’s compulsory coursework at another institution, we recommended you still complete the RMIT research methods/strategies course. These courses prepare you for research at RMIT. 

To apply for an exemption from compulsory coursework, contact Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal and attach the following: 


Annual leave 

The academic year for RMIT HDR candidates is 48 weeks with 4 weeks annual leave. Annual leave does not change to your enrolment, your duration of candidature or affect your milestone due dates, unlike a leave of absence (see below). 

Negotiate annual leave with your supervisory team. No formal application is needed.  

Leave of absence 

You can take up to 12 months’ leave of absence during your candidature. This leave can be used to cover medical, compassionate or compelling circumstances. You can also take an additional 6 months of parental leave for each child born or adopted during your candidature.  

If you have Scholarship or Sponsorship, ensure you check the terms and conditions before applying for a leave of absence.

Contact your Ethics Coordinator to discuss how your leave of absence might affect your ethics approval (if you have one). 

Submit your leave of absence form and supporting documentation to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal.


Extensions beyond maximum duration 

If you are unable to submit by your final submission date, you can apply for an extension beyond maximum duration

You can apply for up to three months (full time equivalent) extension to your candidature at a time. Multiple extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances. 

All extensions beyond maximum duration require a Candidate Action and Support Plan (CASP). A CASP makes sure you receive the support you need. 

To request an extension beyond maximum, arrange a CASP in partnership with your supervisory team and HDR Delegated Authority  Select “Candidate requires extension beyond maximum to the end date of this CASP” on the CASP form. 

If you require a subsequent extension, you’ll need to arrange a new CASP. Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) approval is needed. 

Scholarship extensions

You can view your scholarship end date in Enrolment Online.

If you’re receiving an externally funded scholarship, refer to the terms and conditions of your scholarship or contact your provider for information.

If you’re a PhD candidate receiving a RMIT scholarship, your scholarship will automatically extend if you’re making good progress. The scholarship will extend from 3 years Equivalent Full Time Student Load (EFTSL) to 3.5 years EFTSL.  

Extensions beyond 3.5 years EFTSL are rare and considered on a case-by-case basis. Discuss extending your scholarship with your Senior Supervisor. They will apply on your behalf.

Changes to candidature

Changing study load 

An HDR can be either full-time or part-time (a half load). Full-time commitment averages at least four days per week and part-time commitment averages at least two days per week. 

If you receive a scholarship, contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider to discuss the impact of changing study load. 

The rules for changing study load vary according to your citizenship status.

Domestic candidates (Australian or New Zealand citizens or Australian permanent residents) 

Submit a request to change load with written approval from your Senor Supervisor to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal

International candidates 

There are strict rules governing study load for international students. To move to part-time study for 6 months at a time, international students must demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances.

Submit the Request to Reduce Enrolment Load form with supporting documentation demonstrating compassionate or compelling circumstances to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal

Changing supervisory arrangements 

Learn about making the most of your supervisory relationships.  

If you need to change to your supervisory team during your candidature, first discuss this with your current and proposed supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA)

Submit a Change of Supervisor form to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal

Changing research topic, thesis title or Field of Research codes 

Changing research topic 

Sometimes during your research, you might find your chosen research topic needs to change. This could be for practical or personal reasons. Discuss the issues with your supervisory team and your HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA). Changing your topic won’t change your milestone and final submission dates. 

Address minor changes at your next milestone presentation. 

Major changes require approval from the School of Graduate Research. Your HDR DA will apply for approval on your behalf. Candidates from sanctioned countries will need to undergo a sanctions assessment on their revised project. 

Changing thesis title or Field of Research codes 

To change your thesis title or Field of Research (FoR) code/s seek approval from your Senior Supervisor and submit evidence of their approval to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal

Changing location

If you change your address during your candidature, update your contact details in Enrolment Online

If you are moving interstate or overseas for a period of longer than 3 months, you must also submit a Change of Location form to Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal.

If you need to move offshore during your candidature, you should first: 

  • Talk to your Supervisory Team. They need to be confident you can receive proper supervision, support and resources in your new location.
  • Contact the Department of Home Affairs (if you hold a student visa) to discuss any potential impacts to your visa. 
  • Contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider to find out if your move will affect your scholarship (if you have one).

Cancelling enrolment & readmission 

Cancelling enrolment 

If you want to withdraw completely from your studies, there are steps you must take before you cancel your enrolment: 

  • You must discuss your options with your supervisory team and/or HDR Delegated Authority (HDR DA)
  • If you’re stressed, anxious or experiencing difficulties in your life that interfere with your studies, consider accessing RMIT’s range of support services to help. They include counselling, study support, legal support and financial support. 
  • Consider taking a leave of absence rather than withdrawing completely. 
  • If you’re receiving scholarship, contact the Scholarships Team or your external scholarship provider. 
  • Back up all files. You will immediately lose access to RMIT systems and RMIT student email. 
  • Review all the information on the Cancel your program enrolment page carefully.

If you have any questions contact the Research Training Services via the RMIT Connect portal

Once you’ve completed all the above steps, cancel your enrolment in Enrolment Online. 


If your enrolment was cancelled, there are two possible pathways for readmission: 

Readmission within maximum duration 

If you had candidature remaining at the time of cancellation, you can apply for readmission within maximum duration. Discuss this decision with your supervisory team (or HDR DA if they’re no longer available) before applying. 

Apply for readmission via the RMIT University Application Service with your supporting documentation. If RMIT approve your readmission, we’ll send you a new offer letter with instructions on how to accept your offer and complete the online enrolment process.

Readmission for the purpose of examination 

You can apply for readmission for the purpose of examination within three years of your cancellation date. 

Contact your former Senior Supervisor (or HDR DA if they’re no longer available) outlining that your research is ready for examination, still current and not superseded. 

If approved for readmission, you will receive a new offer letter with instructions on how to accept your offer and complete the online enrolment process.

Need help? 

Submit an enquiry to the School of Graduate Research

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.