Coordination of Research Education


This section of the fIRST website focuses on the needs of the group of university staff involved in the coordination and leadership of research degrees within schools and faculties. These staff members are commonly known by a wide variety of names, including higher degree by research (HDR) coordinator or postgraduate coordinator. Because of the diversity of terminology used in practice,  the  term ‘research education coordinator’ (REC)  is used to describe the role of the personnel involved, and ‘research education coordination’ to describe their work.

Special Interest Group

At the 2014 Quality of Postgraduate Research conference a special interest group was launched for research education coordinators. The  activities of the group will initially be through an email list, if you wish to join the group please click here.

Framework for research education coordination activities

There are wide variations in the range of activities undertaken by research education coordinators. Some work  primarily with students, others focus on supervisors, and yet others work with their institutions as implementers of policies and practices. It is common for many of these functions to actually overlap, for example, to influence the institution or supervisors in order to work effectively with students.

Working with students

As a REC, one of the most common areas of responsibility is to work with research students to enhance their experience of their studies. This can consist of directly working with students on a one-to-one basis to resolve problems, or can be about providing opportunities for students to learn skills and techniques useful for their studies. Resources in this section address these issues.

Working with supervisors

Another area of the responsibilities many RECs undertake is working with research supervisors to enhance the experience of students. These responsibilities are often exercised in one of two ways: improving research supervisors’ skills and knowledge, and addressing issues that have occurred between supervisors and students. Resources in this section address these issues.

Working with institutions

Research education coordinators have the opportunity to influence how an institution undertakes research education at many levels. Such influence often involves complex negotiation between various parts of the institution, and the results can have a significant impact not only in the direct area of responsibility of the REC but also in other parts of the institution, which learn from what has been achieved in one school or faculty. Resources in this section address these issues.

Making it work

Undertaking the role of a research education coordinator is complex and challenging but it comes with some rewards. This section addresses how some of the administrative aspects of the role can be addressed and how the role can be used as a career step.


The details of the seven scenarios that were developed for this project are available in this section. They come in two forms, one as an online version (as can be found on other pages in the site) and the other as a word or pdf document which can be used at workshops.

Case studies

Based on extensive interviews with research education coordinators in four Australian universities, the project developed four case studies that map out strategies to enhance research education and their development within particular disciplinary contexts.

The OLT project

This section describes the background of the project through which the above resources were developed. It also lays out the theoretical ideas that underpinned the project.

 Support for this website has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching



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