You will have at least two supervisors who are experts in your field; one of whom must be an RMIT staff member.

The different types of supervisor are:

  • Senior/Joint Senior Supervisor - The role of Senior Supervisor can be held by an RMIT staff member or shared with another in a joint senior supervisory arrangement.
  • Associate Supervisors - Candidates may also have one or more Associate Supervisors.

If your area of research requires a supervisor external to RMIT, they can take the role either of Associate Supervisor or Joint Senior Supervisor.

A percentage-based weighting system is used to identify the respective contributions of each supervisor. One feature of this model is that percentage allocations are adjustable so that they can be changed as the needs of the candidature or supervisors change.

The most common weightings where there are only two supervisors are 70% for the Senior Supervisor and 30% for the Associate Supervisor. Various other combinations are possible as long as there is a higher percentage for the Senior Supervisor(s) and a minimum of 10% for an Associate Supervisor.

RMIT has a registration system for HDR supervisors to ensure you’re getting the best support possible and to ensure compliance with the national Higher Education Standards Framework. To be eligible, Senior and Joint Supervisors must be research active and have a PhD (or equivalent). Associate Supervisors must have a Higher Degree by Research. These measures do not apply to external supervisors as they are typically appointed for their industry expertise.

The eligibility of all supervisors is reviewed every two years.

It’s important to establish and maintain a good working relationship with your supervisory team. A good working relationship involves open communication and can be assisted by clarifying early on mutual responsibilities, expectations and working arrangements for all involved, such as when and how often the team should meet.

The success of the supervisory arrangements will depend on all parties fulfilling their responsibilities, including you as the driver of your research project. This means developing good habits such as producing work you’ve agreed to within a specified timeframe, giving your supervisory team adequate time to review your work before your meetings and having a clear idea of what you need to achieve at each meeting.

It is important not to go ‘offline’ if you are struggling with workload or grappling with research questions. This is all part of the process and your supervisors are best placed to give you guidance on how to resolve these kinds of issues.

Your Senior Supervisor(s) will advise and assist you in:

  • reading and providing feedback on your work
  • providing guidance on developing your research skills
  • meeting the requirements for successfully completing your milestone reviews
  • the timely submission of your research for examination
  • endorsement of compliance and administrative matters, including changes to candidature and applications for leave of absence.

The Code of Practice for Higher Degrees by Research and the Supporting HDR progress process will give you a good guide on who is responsible for what in this arrangement.

See changes to your supervisory team or topic if there are any circumstances in which you need to make a change in your supervisory team.