Procedures for postgraduates at CSIRO are set for a major upgrade as the peak body for Australian research highlights the contribution students make to the science sector.
Described by the organisation as a “fairly major rewrite” of existing rules, the new postgraduate procedures aim to “facilitate the training of postgraduate students of science and engineering, in accordance with CSIRO’s interests and its science training obligations under its charter.”
The policy changes are still in the drafting phase however CSIRO has indicated that wider workforce consultation over the changes will likely begin in August.
Postgraduate policy changes
Five categories of postgraduate studentships are proposed including three new types that cover positions co-funded with universities, industry and internships.
Minimum rates for top-up stipends are set to increase, as will the value of learning and development opportunities for PhD and Masters students. Advertising arrangements will also be clarified.
The policy changes will also be supported by a full range of supporting documents and resources including capability and accountability statements for students and supervisors respectively.
Sector calls for support
Meanwhile, Science and Technology Australia (STA) has argued that more support for postgraduate students and science career pathways is in the country’s strategic national interest.
STA President Associate Professor Jeremy Brownlie cited a recent report from the Australian Chief Scientist warning that “up to 21,000 jobs are expected to be lost from Australia’s national research effort over the coming years.”
“PhD students and master’s students won’t have jobs to go to after they graduate. Casual research jobs – which keep science running in our country – are expected to start disappearing.”
Professor Brownlie called for an extension of the Research Training Program to offer an increased number of scholarships for postgraduate students.
“If the government sought to send a powerful signal about the value of science and research… it could announce a one-off boost in the October budget to fund an extension of postgraduate scholarships. Such a one-off boost would cost around $500 million and support up to 66,455 of our next generation of research stars.”
“It is in Australia’s strategic national interest to do so, as part of our plan for economic recovery. It also fits squarely with the government’s push to develop greater sovereign capability,” Professor Brownlie said.