Industry and end-user engagement

About industry and end-user engagement

The importance of additional training and experiences for research candidates is a growing topic of discussion in the Australian and international research community. There is recognition that many research candidates will not attain or pursue an academic career and there is a growing need for research-qualified individuals to enter commercial enterprise and policy positions.

The benefits of collaboration between industry and universities through engagement with research candidates include career development opportunities for candidates, increased workforce capability and enhanced innovation. By applying their knowledge and research capabilities in the workplace, HDR candidates are empowered to solve industry problems and develop new innovative ideas (ACGR, Engaging with Industry Guide 2018).

Almost 45% of UQ’s PhD graduates are employed outside the Higher Education sector. With their broad range of skills HDR candidates are suited to a variety of careers within higher education, industry, consulting, and government. Many will transition across these industries throughout their professional careers (OECD, 2012). As such, it is important that candidates have opportunities for exposure to industry and other research end users during their candidature to provide them with insights in to how a business works, its drivers, stakeholders, timelines, and KPIs. There are different ways that HDR candidates can engage with research end users including placements, mentoring, or working on an industry-funded project.

Regulatory frameworks and risk management

A number of regulatory frameworks apply to this space. For example, the Fair Work Act 2009 recognises formal work experience arrangements that are part of an education or training course. These arrangements are referred to as vocational placements, and are defined as being:

  • undertaken as a requirement of an Australian based educational or training course, and authorised under a law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory, and
  • undertaken with an employer for which a person is not entitled to be paid any remuneration.

UQ must also adhere to requirements under each of the following

For these reasons it is important to engage with the Graduate School on these matters.

Placements, internships and mentoring

An industry placement can benefit you and your student by developing a new connection with a research end user, and contribute to your student's Career Development.  A placement is an agreement between UQ and a host organisation to provide, and host within the workplace environment, a project-based experience for a Higher Degree by Research candidate. Placements generally have a duration of between 30 and 40 working days (6 to 8 weeks equivalent) and are unrelated to the student's thesis. These are opportunities for students progressing well in their thesis, and can be conducted after submission with forward planning. There may be flexibility for candidates to undertake placements full-time, or part-time, depending on the needs of the organisation. Placements and internships are covered in our section on Career Development

Mentoring is another way to engage with industry partners and can be a good initial introduction to working with the university and getting to know the HDR space. The Graduate School runs an HDR Career Development Mentoring Program for PhD candidates, as well as works with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to facilitate HDR participation in the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) program. 

These opportunities are covered in more detail in our section on Career development, placements and entrepreneurship.

Industry funded scholarships

It is important to remember that a HDR Scholarship is not the same as contract research. To be suitable for an HDR scholarship, the project must fit within the parameters of the candidate's HDR program. Candidates are primarily undertaking a program of study to learn how to be researchers. This means that sometimes they interrupt, take parental leave, or withdraw from the program, without penalty. Additionally, the terms of any agreement must accommodate UQ’s regulations, policies and procedures in relation to the selection, enrolment, scholarship management, supervision and examination of the candidate. 

If an agreement between an external partner and UQ makes mention of research students/PhD candidates/MPhil Candidates/Doctoral candidates then you should consult with the Graduate School during the establishment of the agreement to ensure it is able to be administered.

As an advisor it is incumbent upon you to understand the key principals involved in establishing an agreement to support a HDR scholarship, before commencing negotiations with your industry partner. 

Key principles
  • If there are obligations on the candidate in the agreement we are obliged to send a copy to them. If any commercially sensitive information is included we recommend you prepare an addendum that deals only with the terms and conditions related to the candidate. 
  • If a set commencement time is specified, ensure it allows sufficient time to recruit and enrol a student, including visa processing times.
  • UQ expects candidates to assign IP to UQ via Deed Poll. UQ will negotiate IP with the partner in the agreement.
  • The HDR Scholarship agreement template should be used where possible (you should speak to your Research Partnership Manager to use this agreement)
  • Continuity of scholarship funding should not be dependent on meeting milestones in research.
  • The Principal Supervisor, not the candidate, oversees reporting requirements to the industry partner. 
  • Scholarships (living stipends) must be competitively awarded, they can’t be allocated to a particular person.
  • Top-up scholarships can only be provided if a base living stipend is in place.
  • The ability for the student to take leave, interruption, extensions, maternity leave and other conditions set out on the UQ and RTP Research Scholarships PPL are the basis for all contracts. Students must be able to abide by all other HDR policies as well. 
  • In the case of grants, the CIA must be the principal advisor as funding is not directly provided to students for management in the UQ finance system. 
  • If an agreement is with another university and aims for wider PhD collaboration or activity, refer to Global Engagement and the international agreements policy.

Our guide for industry partners may assist you in your conversations with you partner to establish what is involved when sponsoring HDR scholarships, the costs, and the limitations. 

For support on how to establish an industry aligned project with a partner, contact your Research Partnerships Manager.