The Graduate Research Academy (GRA) was formed in 2021 to deliver an exceptional research training experience and develop distinctive, connected and career-focused graduate research programs.
Its establishment saw significant change and transformation at the University over the last two years. Thanks to a clear purpose, vision and objectives that have guided the design of the Academy and supported a positive team culture, we are now seeing the benefits of these efforts flowing through.
How we transformed the research training experience at Macquarie
Among the changes introduced with the GRA were:
- a new strategic programs team to oversee our international and industry graduate research programs
- a dedicated scholarship team to manage our scholarship investment of approximately $45 million per year
- a liaison function to manage key relationships with the faculties and University offices
- a strengthened graduate research development function and a more effective operations team, organised around the student lifecycle.
More recently, we brought together our student experience and supervision enhancement functions, increasing our focus on delivering an exceptional student experience and providing greater support for supervisors.
Stakeholder engagement throughout the transformation process was a priority, informed by discovery sessions with impacted staff and collaboration with the Associate Deans of Research Training and Performance on the organisational design and recruitment process. Post-implementation, my leadership team and I met with key academic colleagues to share the GRA’s broad objectives and better understand their graduate research needs.
There have been many key highlights over the past two years, including re-engagement with our global research training partners with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. We have visited strategic partners in Europe and the United Kingdom with the Vice-Chancellor, and we are planning delegations to China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. We have also hosted a number of inbound delegations, including representatives from Mahidol University, the University of Potsdam and the University of Groningen.
We successfully received funding under the Australia France Network of Doctoral Excellence (AUFRANDE) and are now recruiting for six PhD positions. We are starting to see great momentum with our industry programs, securing funding under the National Industry PhD Program and CSIRO’s Industry PhD (iPhD) and Next Generation Graduates Program. This includes funding for one iPhD, six CSIRO iPhDs, and 18 Next Generation Graduates. In fact, Macquarie was the top performer nationally in the latest round of the CSIRO iPhD program, with the most Expressions of Interests (EOIs) successfully approved.
Our 18-month post-implementation review showed high levels of overall staff and stakeholder satisfaction, which is encouraging. But there are always opportunities for improvement and there is still work to be done. Looking ahead, there are several initiatives we will focus on, including:
- improving our systems and processes and reimagining the way that we support the student lifecycle, from application through to completion
- engaging with our Graduate Research Advisory Group and students to deliver a truly distinctive experience
- focusing on research training pathways and implementing the recommendations from the recent Master of Research reaccreditation, which could see the first year of the two-year program repositioned as a Graduate Diploma with a nested Graduate Certificate
- launching the Graduate Researcher Development Framework (GRDF) and building strong links with Employability Connect to best prepare our graduate researchers for the jobs of the future
- responding to the themes that emerge from the Universities Accord, particularly relating to more modular and stackable pathways, meeting Australia’s future skill needs, increasing equity and access and better supporting our graduate researchers
- increasing the annual stipend in 2024 to $35,000 – a 21 per cent increase compared with the 2022 rate – to better support our graduate researchers in an environment of rising living costs.
I thank all Macquarie staff and students who have played a role in the success of the Graduate Research Academy and look forward to sharing more stories of success as we move through our third year. For staff who are interested in learning more about the research training experience at Macquarie, I encourage you to come along to the Master of Research Information Session on Tuesday 12 September.