Research degree student end-user engagement reporting


The Australian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) has introduced a number of new reporting requirements for all Higher Education Providers to improve monitoring of the research training system. Research end-user engagement is now included in the required data that all universities must collect and report to DET and so UniSA Research Degree students are now required to report on their own engagement with research end-users. UniSA is collecting this information through collection rounds facilitated by an online survey.

These changes are in response to the ACOLA Review of Australia's Research Training System, and also support the new Research Block Grant funding arrangements for universities. The ACOLA review found that there was a strong need to support and increase engagement between the research training taking place within universities, and research-end users such as governments, businesses, and communities.


Important terms

DET has provided a set of definitions for different types of external engagement activities. There are five components that must be reported on:

  • Research internships with a research end-user
  • Joint supervision by a research end-user
  • Jointly funded or fully funded by a research end-user
  • Formal training on industry engagement
  • Other commercialisation and engagement activities.

What is a 'research end-user'?

A research end-user is defined as an individual, community or organisation outside of academia that will directly use or benefit from the output, outcome or results of the research. This may include businesses, governments, non-governmental organisations, communities and community organisations. Research end-users are not:

  • Other higher education providers (universities)
  • Organisations that are affiliates, controlled entities or subsidiaries (such as Research Institutes) of a higher education provider
  • Equivalents (international or domestic) of the above exclusions

Research internship

Research internship is defined as a temporary paid or unpaid position (of at least 30 days) with a government, business, community, or organisation outside of academia where a student has undertaken research and development related to their core research program. Research visits to other universities or institutes are not considered research internships. Examples of a Research internship are below.

Formal training on end-user engagement

Formal training on end-user engagement is defined as any formal training recognised by UniSA that focusses on preparing a student for work with a research end-user. This includes intellectual property, management/leadership, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and research commercialisation. Training can be administered by a research end-user organisation or by UniSA. Examples of formal training on end-user engagement are below.

Other commercialisation and engagement activities

Other commercialisation and engagement activities is defined as an arrangement with a research end-user that enables experiential learning related to the student's research degree. This includes practicums or performances, R&D consultancy work, R&D commercialisation work, entrepreneurship, community engagement/outreach, and research extension work either with or for a research end-user. These activities can be paid or unpaid, and no minimum amount of learning days applies. The activities exclude research internships unless they are shorter than 30 days, and exclude joint funding arrangements. Examples of other commercialisation and engagement activities are below.


Collection of Data

This data collection exercise will enable UniSA to provide the data required by DET but also to identify existing relationships with research end-users and look to ways UniSA can better identify and support external engagement opportunities for research degree students. This collection exercise complies with the UniSA Privacy Policy and The Privacy Act 1988. Please see the FAQ page for more information on data collection and management.

For further information and full DET definitions, see the department's resource pages (definitions can be found through Glossary links on that page).

Collection : 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022

The current collection round through an online survey facilitated by the Student and Academic Services (SAS). An invitation email will be sent to all research degree students on the 29 April 2022. If you cannot see the email in your UniSA email inbox on the 29 April, please check your junk or spam folder. The form will be available to complete online until the 9 May 2022. All students are required to complete the form. Further details on this collection round are contained within the FAQs section of this page.

Win a $100 Gift Card

To thank you for taking the time to complete this requirement, all those who submit the form within the set period will automatically go in the randomly selected draw to win one of 2 $100 Gift cards which will be announced shortly after close of the collection round.



Research internships:

The following are examples of research internships with a research end-user, as long as the period is > 30 days (and the internship is either paid or unpaid):

  • a Parliamentary Fellowship Program (organised in a joint partnership with an international NGO)
  • a secondment to an Australian Government Office to assist with creation of an intergenerational dataset
  • Working in the Parliamentary Library (on a Summer research scholarship)
  • Working in the Research Centre of a Non-governmental organisation

Formal training on end-user engagement

Examples of where you would answer 'Yes' to the question on Formal training and enter details in the form:

  • completed a UniSA course to meet research degree student coursework requirements on the topic of research commercialisation.
  • completed an external training course or workshop on management and leadership and reported this in my annual plan and report milestone
  • attended a UniSA seminar or training series facilitated by my Academic Unit or department on intellectual property and entrepreneurship  

Other commercialisation and engagement activities

  • a research publication or book produced from collaboration with a research end-user, as long as the engagement meets requirements for one of the activities above
  • a paid or unpaid position (i.e. research internship) under 30 days in duration (see also the Research internships examples, above).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes you will still need to complete the survey form and confirm that you have not undertaken any activities. Once you have answered a few quick questions, you will then be directed to the declaration page for your sign off.

The information you provide will be stored within the UniSA Student Administration System and will be accessible to UniSA staff members with appropriate access and utilised for reporting and statistical purposes in accordance with the UniSA Privacy Policy and the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Information will also be reported to DET through mandatory student reporting on research end-user indicator codes. If you have an inquiry about the storage or use of your personal information at UniSA you can contact

An online survey with questions relating to your engagement with research end-users.

You will need an Internet connection at all times whilst filling in the form as the software (i.e Survey Monkey) used to deploy the form is web based.

The software used to deploy the form is compatible with all operating systems.

The form can be filled in using a desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone or tablet device with an Internet connection.

We recommend downloading the newest version of your preferred browser for the best experience. SurveyMonkey supports the following browsers: Chrome 18 and later, Firefox 24 and later, Safari 7 or later, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer 11.

Before completing the form you should think about any research end-user engagement activities you have completed during the reporting period. have you engaged in an internship with a research end-user organisation? If so have ready at hand the dates of the internship, the name and contact details of the organisation.If you have completed formal training or other commercialisation or engagement activities then likewise have on hand the details such as the name of the training course or description of the commercialisation or engagement activity, the organisation name and contact details and the dates that it was undertaken.

An experience or activity where you have undertaken a paid or unpaid placement, internship, fieldwork, training or joint-supervision arrangement where your research will benefit a research end-user organisation via intellectual property or commercial gain.

Some examples are: 1. The dates and details of the organisation where you have done a paid or unpaid research internship. 2. The training you have completed including the title, what it was on, who conducted the training and the date or period it was held.

First check emails you received on the 29 April 2022 and check spam or junk folders. If you still cannot locate the email please contact the help support team via , remembering to include your student ID number. Do not use a link that was sent to someone else as the links are unique and tied to each individual.

Currently the data collection is targeted at HDR candidates. HDR supervisors will not directly participate in the collection or complete the form, however they will be able to provide input through their HDR candidates as requested.

It is the code used by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training to record data provided by higher education providers on higher degree research end-user engagement.

Click on the link provided in the email of the 29 April 2022. It will open up a survey form where you will be asked some questions. Note that you must submit the form by the 9 May 2022.

Once you have completed the questions on the declaration page all you need to do is to click on the Submit button. A final screen will appear that confirms you have completed and submitted the form.

We hope to incorporate information on the collection in future induction resources. Note the aim is to eventually embed the collection of this information into existing business processes where ever possible and new business processes for the remaining elements.

Anytime between the 29 April 2022 and 9 May 2022  (inclusive).

You can access the form through the email link that was sent to you individually from our system (through the initial invitation email, or through any of the reminder emails).


DET from 2018 has introduced additional reporting elements for all Australian Higher Education Providers to report on their HDR candidates Research End User engagement each census period. As this is mandatory for the UniSA to report on to the Government, it follows that it is also mandatory for HDR candidates to provide the information on their engagement to the University (see the HEIMS website).


The new Higher Degree by Research (HDR) indicators, including the research end-user engagement indicators, are part of a wider plan to improve student data collections to meet recommendations made to Government.The improved data will be used to improve monitoring of the research training system, to inform national research training funding policy and to provide a robust national data set for universities to improve their research training programs. New indicators are particularly important to support monitoring and evaluation of the recent program changes including the impact of recent changes on incentives for universities.

On 7 December 2015, the Australian Government announced new Research Block Grant (RBG) funding arrangements for Higher Education Providers (HEPs) as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). These arrangements combined existing RBGs into two programs, the Research Support Program (RSP) and the Research Training Program (RTP). These policy innovations were in direct response to the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements, led by Dr Ian Watt (Watt Review) and are designed to drive greater research-industry collaboration by increasing incentives for success in industry and other end-user engagement. In addition, improvements to program guidelines were made in response to recommendations of the Review of Australia's Research Training System undertaken by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA Review).

The need for better data and information on Australia's higher degree by research (HDR) training system itself was a common thread across the different areas of the ACOLA Review. Poor data on the performance of the HDR training system makes it difficult to understand what return is generated from Australian Government investment of more than $1 billion annually and how best to go about improving the system.

In the RBG consultation paper on new block grant arrangements released in May 2016, DET flagged its intention to improve income and student data collections to meet recommendations of both the Watt and ACOLA reviews. DET released a further consultation paper on new research block grant data requirements in January 2017. This paper sought feedback from the higher education sector on detailed implementation options for each of the proposed changes. DET received strong support for the new HDR research end-user engagement indicator through both of these consultation processes.

UniSA is collecting the information for the main purpose of reporting the information to DET. In addition to mandatory reporting purposes, we are also collecting additional information on engagement activities to ensure that the data collection is as useful as possible for the University. We plan to also use the information for internal reporting purposes, for statistical purposes, to monitor the depth and breadth of our research end-­user engagement, to inform committees and working parties on Industry engagement, to inform the development of policies, to enable further engagement with research end-users, to improve administrative procedures, and other purposes that are still yet to be identified or determined.

Yes, a research internship would generally require a formal agreement between a candidate and research end-user in order to justify that the candidate was engaged in a 'temporary position' at the research end-user organisation.

'Formal' means that the training must be endorsed by the University. This not need to result in a certificate or award and is not limited to nationally accredited programs or courses. It could include coursework undertaken during a HDR program and training such as seminars and workshops as long as it meets the definition of formal training. It is unlikely that the provision of in-kind resources such as data or samples would be sufficient enough to allow for experiential learning related to a candidate's HDR as DET would generally expect this would entail some form of support and/or active engagement from the research end-user.

Yes formal training can be provided by the UniSA or any other higher education provider or research end user organisation. You should record this as an activity if the training focusses on preparing you for work with a research end-user. The industry you should select is 'other' and in the provide further details section you can enter the name of the organisation and industry category such as 'UniSA', 'Higher Education Provider'.

Yes in kind-resources such as data, samples or field-work would fall under the category of 'Other commercialisation and engagement activities' so long as it has enabled 'experiential learning' related to your PhD research. Note the research end-user organisation also needs to directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome or results of the research you have conducted.
Note 'experiential learning' can be thought of as the process of learning through experience or active learning as opposed to passive learning. It may include items such as observations, interactions, decision making, analytical skills, problem solving skills, and reflection. It  is where candidates can ' ... apply knowledge and conceptual understanding to real-world problems ... ' (Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010). This would fit well with practical research such as internships, field trips/work, and field research. Note the arrangement does not need to include a written agreement.

Data collected relates to engagement between HDR candidates and research end-users, rather than specific research outputs. If an HDR candidate is collaborating with a research end-user and the result is a research publication or book, then yes, that collaboration could be eligible as one of the indicators as long as this engagement meets the definition for either internship, joint supervision, joint funding, formal training or other engagement activities. However, if an HDR candidate produces a publication or book without engagement from a research end-user which then results in subsequent benefits to certain communities or research end-user organisations then this would not be included in this data collection.

It does not need to be called an 'internship', it just needs to comply with the definition.

Yes, if your research requires the involvement of an organisation that can be categorised as a business, government, non-governmental organisation, community and community organisation, regardless of whether they are in Australia or overseas, this information should be included. However, if the organisation is a higher education provider, or an affiliate, controlled entity or subsidiary of a higher education provider, such as a Medical Research Institute, this organisation is not considered a research end-user, therefore you do not need to include this information.

We hope to incorporate information on the collection in future induction resources and on HDR web pages. Note the aim is to eventually imbed the collection of this information into existing business processes where ever possible and new business processes for the remaining elements.

After reading the information on this page, if you require further advice or technical support please contact the Scholarship and Canidature team. Note you may also seek advice from your College or School HDR administrators or HDR convenors/supervisory panel members around your engagement activities.