Submission to the Review of Australia’s Research Training System

Submission to the Review of Australia’s Research Training System

31st August, 2015

AAMRI makes this submission on behalf of our 46 member institutes, which supervise and train over 1,500 Higher Degree Research (HDR) students each year. Through their close links with health service providers, MRIs provide a unique research training environment intimately linked to clinical practice. They also help build links between the health system and the research sector by affording medical students and health practitioners easily accessible, world-class research facilities and training.

AAMRI believes there is an opportunity to improve the quality and consistency of HDR training throughout Australia by requiring mandatory training in key skills areas, such as business development, project management and communication. In particular, if Australian research is to remain internationally competitive, researchers need an improved understanding of technology transfer and business development. We also recommend mandatory training of supervisors. Any increase in training requirements for HDR students needs to consider the financial implications for universities, and impacts on degree length.

In order to improve the international standing, experience and career progression of Australian HDR graduates, AAMRI suggests that the extension of PhD funding to four years be considered. Best practice elements of international systems should also be contemplated, including a viva or oral examination for PhD completion. We recommend more opportunities for students to undertake part of their project outside the academic setting (e.g. through funding for internships or industry-based scholarships), and suggest structural changes to career support schemes for clinician researchers and other professionals to encourage them to undertake HDR training in their industry setting.

Finally, of particular importance to MRIs and other non-academic organisations that supervise HDR students is the fact that most Government funding to help meet HDR training costs does not make it outside the university system. In most cases, MRIs and non-academic organisations incur the full research costs of the HDR degree students they train. The current system financially penalises industry, MRIs, government agencies, hospitals and other non-academic organisations for training HDR students, and ultimately limits opportunities for students to experience research environments outside the academic setting and undertake industry-relevant training.


You can download AAMRI’s full submission below.