Review of Australia’s Research Training System


A highly skilled research workforce is vital to Australia’s future prosperity. The Government commissioned the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to undertake a review of Australia’s research training system. 

About the review

The review aims 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.

The report of the review is now available on the ACOLA website.

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

Ministerial media release 

The Australian Government’s response to the review

Terms of reference

The review examined Australia’s research training system, and considered the priorities for reform, including how to:

  • ensure that Australia’s research training models are comparable with the best in the world 
  • ensure that research graduates are equipped for and achieve employment outcomes in a range of sectors, including academic teaching, research and industry
  • provide greater opportunity for industry relevant research training, including through
    • support for industry relevant research projects and experience
    • access to industry and business relevant skills within research training programs, such as entrepreneurial skills
    • recognition of prior experience in industry or other relevant employment
  • remove barriers in the regulatory framework to facilitate innovation in degree models and align with international best practice, including
    • facilitating opportunities for more structured research training programmes, including through professional development, coursework and internships
    • supporting alternative pathways to a PhD that align with international best practice, such as master’s degree preparatory models
  • support admission and attainment for PhD candidates from non-traditional backgrounds, including supporting Indigenous research students 
  • ensure the research workforce pipeline is secure in fields of national importance, including areas aligned with national science and research priorities 
  • ensure that our research training system delivers a high quality research and learning environment and continues to support student choice and competition between providers
  • make the best use of current resources invested in research training by all stakeholders, including universities, industry and the Australian Government.

Previous reports and background


Initiatives to enhance the professional development of research students


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)