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Filling out the forms


You may take up to four weeks of recreation leave each 12 months (plus public holidays), pro-rata for part-time students.

It is really, really important that you take the annual (‘recreation’) leave that owes to you. PhD students often neglect to take proper time off, thinking for some reason that the often-‘unstructured’ nature of the PhD somehow balances out any ‘time off’ you might be eligible for/actually need. The PhD is hard work and part of that hard work is recognising that sometimes you have days or even weeks of being unproductive — but being unproductive is not the same as having proper time off. Having time off increases your productivity in the long-run.

Please negotiate with your supervisor when taking annual leave, complete the Notification of annual leave form and lodge it with the HDR Administrator. If, for some reason, you don’t get around to applying for annual leave, but nevertheless are absent from the university (i.e., you take off back home to visit family and friends), you should still pay us the courtesy of letting us know that you will be away; you don’t need to tell us where you are going, but we need to know if you are not around, just in case anything happens and we need to get in touch. A situation arose, for example, during the Jakarta attacks of 2016 when the School needed to get in touch with students who might have been in Indonesia at the time to make sure they were OK. A good number of such students had not recorded their travel plans or absences with us, meaning that we could not immediately confirm the safety of our people (yes, we see you as ‘our people’ because we care about our community!); instead, we had to rely on text messages to ‘people who might know where someone is’ and Facebook posts to gather information on people’s possible locations — not an ideal situation. So, please let us know when you are on leave.

Candidates should be aware that unapproved leave could result in their being in breach of the conditions of admission or scholarship award or, for international students, their visa conditions. You do not need to submit travel approval for annual leave.

Download the Notification of annual leave form.

See the ANU’s Procedure: Higher degree by research – candidature and the page on research program leave for more info.


If you are unable to pursue your research program for personal or professional reasons, you may take leave from the program. This is not the same as Annual leave and neither is it medical leave (speak to the HDR Administrator if you have a query about medical leave).

Any program and/or scholarship leave must be formally approved and an application should be submitted online well in advance of the date on which leave is envisaged to commence. You should write, in the first instance, to your supervisor explaining why you wish to suspend your course, and this should be endorsed by your supervisor. You should not assume that any request for leave will necessarily be supported. Be aware that unapproved leave could result in your being in breach of the conditions of admission or scholarship award or, for international students, your visa conditions. You can apply for a minimum of 7 days' leave or up to a maximum of 12 months' leave at a time. If more time is required, another online application needs to be submitted towards the end of the existing leave period. All applications for leave need to be approved by the chair of you panel and the Delegated Authority.

Scholarship leave is generally applied for when you apply for program leave. There is a section on the eForm application that asks you to list any scholarships you are on; this is because scholarships are not paid whilst you are on leave (except for paid medical leave), and payments need to be suspended for the duration of the leave. Things are slightly different if you are on an Endeavour award, in which case contact your Endeavour administrator.

The conditions for applying vary according to the type of scholarship you are on and whether you are an international or domestic student. International students must check their visa conditions and email the Office of Policy & Regulation before applying. You will be advised about the effect your leave may have on your electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE) and the possible consequences for your student visa. More information on visa requirements can be found on the International Office website.

More information about Research program leave can be found on the ANU's Postgrad research students website.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS eForm by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

Any request dated from 'today' onwards can be processed via eForms and can be submitted 3 months in advance, no more. If you are making a 'retrospective' application or request, e.g., you want to apply for leave that you have already taken, or you want to backdate something, then you will have to fill out a paper form, in which case you should contact the HDR Administrator.


Either you or panel members may request changes in supervisory panel arrangements during your candidature, and may seek advice on this from a number of sources. Indeed, it is not unusual for students to make changes to their panel arrangements, especially if the research has changed direction (as often happens) and a supervisor can no longer provide advice on your topic. Sometimes, however, you find that you and your supervisor simply do not get on. Changing supervisor under these latter circumstances can be mentally and emotionally draining, so you should have a chat with someone you trust and who can provide advice on how the system works and on how best to proceed so that everyone stays emotionally safe. Even though it can be stressful, it’s good to remember that, in such cases your supervisor often knows there’s a problem and they are not surprised to learn that you want to change to someone else … in fact, sometimes your current supervisor welcomes the move!

To change your chair and/or primary supervisor you must firstly investigate who else might be an appropriate supervisor for your thesis; no-one else can do this for you -- you have to do it yourself. You might check academics’ profiles on the Crawford or other ANU websites, you might ask your fellow PhD students for their thoughts, or you could contact your HDR Convenor, who can advise on the staff member's suitability and likely availability.

Once you have some ideas, you should make an appointment with the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor to discuss your situation. If it’s a fairly straight-forward case of changing to someone more qualified to supervise your research, then you can simply talk the matter over with your supervisor, organise a replacement supervisor, and get the paperwork underway (see below). However, if things are little more complex, we will help you develop a strategy to best manage any approaches you might make to potential supervisors, as well as suggest how you might talk to your current supervisor about the changes you want. In some cases, it might be recommended that you email your supervisor and Cc the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor, who can then take that as permission to contact your supervisor to discuss matters. In other cases, it might mean seeking advice from the HDR Convenor in your area to see if they can liaise with the current supervisor and any potential supervisors. How things proceed will very much depend on your circumstances and on how you want things to work.

In any event, it's best to act early to make sure that you have a panel that works for you.

To formalise any changes involving ANU staff, fill out the HDR thesis topic or supervisory panel update form (below) and hand it in to the HDR Administrator. If your panel member is external to ANU you will need to send the HDR External Advisor Request form (on the same form, below) to the external advisor to complete and then send back to the HDR Administrator for processing. Please note that the chair of your panel (who is likely also to be your primary supervisor) must sign off on any changes.

Download the HDR thesis topic or supervisory panel update form


If you are a domestic student, you can change from full-time to part-time study and vice versa. Commonly this occurs for health, family, or employment reasons. A change in program intensity should be discussed with the Chair of your supervisory panel. The application is approved by the Delegated Authority (the HDR Director). If you hold an APA or University scholarship you must remain full-time, or else you will forfeit your scholarship.

International students cannot normally change their program intensity.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

If the change being applied for is retrospective (i.e., the start date for the leave is earlier than 'today's' date), then you will need to contact the HDR Administrator.


It is possible to change your HDR candidature to another school or college within the University. If you believe that you would benefit from such a change, you should discuss the matter with the Chair of your supervisory panel and your area's HDR Convenor. If it is agreed that you should change research program, then you need to find a new Chair of Panel who will agree to take you on.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > [select form]

Changes to research program can only become effective on four dates a year, i.e., there are quarterly restrictions on when you can move to another area. Contact the HDR Administrator for more information.


When you start your degree, you must register your thesis topic (or 'thesis title', as it is referred to, sometimes) with the HDR Administrator. If you want to change your topic in a significant way following your TPR you may need to undergo the TPR process again and no extension to the candidature can be guaranteed. Such a change should thus be carefully considered and discussed in detail with the panel.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Change working thesis title


If your thesis will not be completed and submitted by your maximum submission date, you must request an extension of program. This should be requested two to three months before the end-of-program date.

A request for extension of program can be made only on academic grounds, that is, it must be related to progress of the research, and you should not assume that any request for extension will be granted automatically. Indeed, a request for extension of program is unlikely to be granted unless you have completed all the relevant progress milestones to date and evidence has been provided of substantial progress on the thesis. There must also be a strong indication that your thesis will be completed and submitted within the period of extension requested. The maximum extensions that can be sought at any one time are 6 months full-time or 12 months part-time. You should apply for an extension of program no later than one month before your maximum submission date.


If you are an international student and you are seeking an extension of program, you will be required to pay a tuition fee to remain onshore; if you go home and finish your program, then you are not charged the fee. There are two types of tuition fee assistance potentially available to HDR students at ANU: 1) tuition sponsorship, and 2) HDR fee remission merit scholarship. Crawford does not pay for individual tuition sponsorship for international students who are in their program extension period; however, if you have been ranked as part of a competitive scholarship process for another ANU or external scholarship (such as Endeavour), then you might be eligible for fee remission. If you want to apply for this remission, then you should do so at the same time as you apply for an extension of program.

Extension of program and extension of scholarship are separate processes. You must take this into account if you are looking to extend either or both.

Please note that you can only submit a program extension request via eForms if you have not gone past your maximum submission date; further, you can only apply via eForms if you are within 3 months of your program end date and not before. You are required to finish your PhD within 5 years (if you are full-time); this includes time taken for leave. You can apply for extensions after the 5-year limit, although the Delegated Authority might not approve your application.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

To support your application, you should provide the following material to support your request. The more evidence you can provide, the better your chances of having your extension approved, avoiding delays. You should include the following:


  • Statement of reasons for extension. Provide a robust rationale, clearly set out in a straightforward narrative, that plainly describes any mitigating circumstances. Make sure you contextualise the extensions you have already been given, demonstrate the progress you have made to date during those extension periods, and make an argument for why you require additional time.

  • Medical certificates, including dates.

  • Visa issues, if applicable.

  • Statement of commitment by supervisor. This should include an  undertaking to closely monitor your progress such that the extension period is met.

  • Details of completion plan and check-ins. Crawford requires you to develop a completion plan, and have regular check-ins, with the PhD academic and research skills advisor. If you don’t have such a plan, you need to get one in place before you submit your request for extension. Contact the PhD academic and research skills advisor to make arrangements.

  • Any other supporting documentation that will help your case.

If the change being applied for is retrospective (i.e., the start date for the leave is earlier than 'today's' date), then you will need to contact the HDR Administrator.

Other things to note

If you have been enrolled over five (5) years FTE (full-time equivalent), then the following applies when applying for annual, personal, medical, or maternity leave:

  • Periods of personal leave will not alter your submission date (because you will be a program extension). This means that you can apply for personal leave but that your submission date will not be extended.

  • Periods of medical leave, with evidence, will extend your submission date.

  • Periods of annual or recreation leave will not extend your submission date.

If you experience further progress delays based on academic reasons beyond her control, and related to her research rather than reasons of a personal nature, you should apply for another program extension via ISIS, and you should do that well ahead of your program end date.

Please note that additional program extensions may be granted if the associate dean HDR considers the extension to be justified because the student’s ability to complete the program within that period has been adversely affected by illness or any other circumstances outside the student’s control. Evidence will be required to support your application.

Further information on Leave and Program extensions is outlined in Procedure: Higher degree by research – candidature.


Stipend scholarships such as APAs and ANU PhD Scholarships are usually awarded for a period of three years with the expectation that PhD programs will be completed within that time. In exceptional circumstances the University may grant up to a six-month extension of scholarship but only 'where the research has been delayed by circumstances beyond the scholar’s control' and where those circumstances are related to the research rather than being of a personal nature. If you have another Australian government or ANU-funded scholarship, then you need to check the conditions of award. Three months before expiry of the scholarship, you must discuss with your supervisor whether or not you are likely to submit within this period, and if necessary begin without delay the progress of applying for a scholarship extension.

As noted above with respect to extensions of program, requests for extension of scholarship can only be made on academic grounds related to progress of the research and you should not assume that any request for extension will be granted automatically.

Extension of program and extension of scholarship are separate processes. You must take this into account if you are looking to extend either or both.

A request for this can be submitted via ISIS by following

  • Main Menu > ISIS > Degree Management > Manage My Degree > MMD HDR > Apply

Annual (aka ‘recreation’) leave
Program and scholarship leave (aka 'suspension of program')
Extension of scholarship
Change of topic
Change of research program
Changes to your supervisory panel
Extension of program
Change to program intensity/study load
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