Review of Australia’s Research Training System


A highly skilled research workforce is vital to Australia’s future prosperity. In 2015 the Australian Government commissioned the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to undertake a Review of Australia’s Research Training System (the Review). 

About the Review

The Review aimed to help ensure that Australia’s research training system is truly world class and capable of underpinning our capacity for learned inquiry, innovation and productivity.

The Review engaged higher education and research institutions, peak bodies, industry, and government agencies to gather information regarding opportunities to improve Australia’s research training system and deliver evidence based findings.

On 4 November 2016, the Government announced it had accepted the Review’s six recommendations.

Ministerial media release 

Government’s response to the review

Research Training Implementation Plan

In response to Recommendation 1 of the Review, a Research Training Implementation Working Group was established to develop an implementation plan and consider further actions to respond to the Review’s findings. The Working Group comprised representatives from the higher education, government and industry sectors, including Indigenous and higher degree by research (HDR) student representatives.

Research Training Implementation Working Group terms of reference and membership

The Implementation Plan outlines 18 actions for the higher education, government and industry sectors to respond to the Review’s findings. The actions address five Priority Issues:

  1. Pathways to HDR training
  2. Industry-university collaboration, including placements
  3. Equity, including Indigenous participation
  4. Quality of the HDR training system
  5. Data and evidence to better monitor HDR system performance.

Under Priority 3, the department has released the following reports on equity in Higher Degrees by Research:

Student Equity in Higher Degrees by Research

Indigenous Students in Higher Degrees by Research

The department commissioned the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to hold an Indigenous HDR student forum in November 2018. QUT has published the following report on the findings of this forum:

QUT Report on Indigenous Success in Higher Degrees by Research (available under the Publications heading)

In August 2017, the Working Group Chair, Professor Robyn Owens, wrote to the Minister for Education and Training to present him with the Implementation Plan.

Chair’s covering letter

Research Training Implementation Plan Summary

Research Training Implementation Plan

On 22 December 2017, the Implementation Plan was released by the Minister for Education and Training.

Ministerial media release

The Department of Education and Training, in consultation with responsible organisations, is monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the 18 agreed actions. The department intends to publish an update on the progress of implementation every six months.

Implementation Plan Updates

Progress Report – July 2018

Previous reports and background


Initiatives to enhance the professional development of research students
(Department of Education and Training)


Workshop Outcomes: Doctoral Research Training in Our Region
(Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies)

Research Education Experience
(Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations)

Research Skills for an Innovative Future: Business Views and Needs
(Business High Education Roundtable)


Examination of the Full Cost of Research Training
(Deloitte Access Economics)