By working with or working for industry you stand to gain the following benefits:

  • finding solutions to real world problems
  • expanding skills beyond the academic
  • broadening career options
  • getting a head start on a research career
  • improving real world connections
  • establishing network of contacts.

The information provided on this page will explain the range of possible collaborations, the role of your supervisor in the process as well as support available for you to establish these networks.

There is a variety of opportunities for you to collaborate with industry partners:

Working for industry through an RMIT sponsored research project

RMIT receives funding from government and industry to set up research projects that have a specific application to or location within a particular industry. HDR students can participate in these projects by providing valuable research support to RMIT.

The categories of this type of project include the following:

ARC Linkage Partner projects

Under these projects RMIT will apply with an industry partner for an ARC grant to fund a 3 year research project which is driven by the outputs required by the industry partner. The industry partner also contributes cash to the project as well. The project has built into the participation of one or more PhD candidates. Students are remunerated via an ARC scholarship for their participation in this industry research.

An existing or new collaboration between RMIT, a supervisor, or a candidate and an industry partner/supervisor may result in the identification of these opportunities and an application for ARC grant funding.

Industry commissioned research projects

Industry partners have an identified outcome or output required and seek research services from RMIT to address this. HDR candidates will be involved in these projects under the direction of their supervisors where the research links closely with the research or disciplinary focus of the student. Usually these projects are established by links between your supervisors and industry partners and through other business development activities of RMIT. As a student, you may be already connected with a potential RMIT partner who has an identified research need which can be converted into a sponsored RMIT research project. Students may be remunerated via a scholarship which is funded by the industry partner as part of the sponsored research project.

Students should liaise with their supervisors if they have connections with an industry partner who is interested in engaging RMIT (and the student) to provide research services.

Contact the Research Contracts team if you or your supervisor need assistance in developing these types of industry commissioned research projects.

Working with industry

Many HDR projects are reliant upon or benefit from other forms of engagement with industry. This may include mentoring and advice, provision of data, access to equipment or field testing and opportunities to present and refine hypotheses, models and theories. Whilst not fully sponsored research projects, there can be many benefits from these forms of collaborations for both the candidates and the industry or sector they are researching. In these cases, an external supervisor may be appointed and, if data or IP is provided or shared, IP or confidentiality agreements may be required.

Working through industry

You may also benefit from developing more generic workplace skills and experiences through an industry placement or internship. This placement may not necessarily be related to your research or disciplinary focus.

RMIT is a partner in the AMSI Industry Internship Program.

The RMIT International Industry Experience and Research Program (RIIERP) enables almost 200 RMIT students a year to carry out vocational training and research projects at world-class businesses and institutions in Europe, Asia and the USA.

Some schools may offer a coursework unit enrolment to facilitate a short-term HDR specific internship placement. Please speak to your HDR Co-ordinator to determine if this option is or may be available to you.

Please note that if your school does not approve your industry engagement as a mandatory component of your program or course, it will be considered as a non-RMIT sanctioned activity (i.e. not a WIL activity). More information can be found in the Fair Work Act section below.

You must maintain your enrolment (and consumption of candidature) during all types of industry engagement including working through industry (i.e. workplace experience).

Any form of industry engagement must be completed within allowable candidature and not seen as an addition to or reason for extending normal periods of enrolment.

The University has arranged accident insurance coverage for RMIT students while they are on campus and on University sanctioned placements as part of their studies. You must maintain your enrolment, to be covered under the RMIT insurance.

Your supervisor plays a crucial role in your engagement with an industry partner. This process is outlined in detail in the Supervisor’s checklist for HDR industry engagement (PDF 71KB 3p). Your supervisor must endorse you partnering with an industry partner and it is essential that you discuss any arrangements with your supervisor first to see how they fit in your program before engaging with an industry partner.

Working for industry and working with industry

The arrangements for these collaborations should be articulated in your research proposal/plan, endorsed by your supervisor and approved at each milestone review.

You may be required to conduct research at both the industry and RMIT workplaces and should be jointly supervised by both RMIT and external supervisors. Your external Joint Senior supervisors will not have responsibility for compliance and administrative matters relating to your candidature.

Working through industry

Working through industry (i.e. workplace experience) will require approval of enrolment in a Workplace Practicum course by your supervisor.

If the industry partner expects to own the Intellectual Property that you create as part of an RMIT sponsored research project or as part of a work placement you will need to assign that IP either to RMIT or to the industry partner directly.

You may also need to enter into a Student Participation Agreement.

You can find more detailed information in the Checklist for research involving students and industry partners.

If you need to work at your partner organisation premises at any time, your partner organisation should be supplied with a checklist (DOCX 39KB 5p) to ensure that you are provided with the appropriate facilities and resources to do the work.

Your partner organisation should also provide you with a workplace induction when starting the project and provide you with an occupational health and safety briefing on your first day. The briefing should include:

  • health and safety policies
  • emergency and evacuation procedures
  • first aid arrangements
  • procedures for reporting accidents
  • incidents and risks
  • the name and location of the health and safety representative
  • details on the process for managing and resolving health and safety issues.

Vocational placements can help students to transition successfully from study to work, while giving industry and business the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates. Vocational placements that meet the definition under the Fair Work Act are lawfully unpaid, regardless of whether an employment relationship exists or not.

Care must be taken to ensure that your engagement with industry is part of an education or training course. It is also important to ensure that any scholarships arrangements are to support the research training process and not dependant on a specific outcome.

Non-RMIT sanctioned activity

If your school has not approved your industry engagement as a mandatory component of your program or course, it is considered as a non-RMIT sanctioned activity (i.e. not a WIL activity). In these cases, the work experience arrangement will be considered as a private matter between the student and the organisation. Refer to the Fair Work Australia guidelines for more information.

International candidates will be liable for fees (or have fee scholarship support) for all types of industry engagement during their candidature.

Your supervisory arrangements must also meet the requirements of the Higher Education Support Act 2003 – Administration Guidelines 2012:

  • ongoing and regular input and contact with the student
  • oversight and direction of work occurring during its performance
  • definition and management of the implementation of educational content and objectives of the unit
  • definition and management of assessment of student learning and performance during the student placement, and
  • definition and management of the standard of learning and performance to be achieved by the student during the student placement.