15 Nov 2022

Monash HDR students win 10% pay rise following student-led campaign

HDR stipend sit-in protest. L-R: Giulia Iacono, Gemma Hartley
leading and just behind, Elan L'Estrange-Stranieri and Rhiannon
Grant. Photo: MGA
by Elan L'Estrange-Stranieri, Gemma Hartley, Rhiannon Grant

As of March 2022, the Monash Research Training Program (RTP) stipend rate of $30,000 per annum for Higher Degree Research (HDR) students officially fell below the Henderson Poverty Line, being 20% lower than the minimum wage ($36,931) after tax1,2, and the third lowest rate offered by Group of 8 (Go8) universities (see Figure 1: 2022 below). 

Compounded by rising inflation, this led to significant rates of financial stress amongst HDR students, with one third of students considering to leave their course due to financial concerns1.

The situation prompted the Monash Graduate Association (MGA) and student representative Emily Pryor to launch a campaign to raise the RTP stipend rate to $35,000 per annum, effective immediately to provide urgent relief for students, followed by an increase to $37,000 in 2023, in line with the minimum wage (after tax).

PhD candidates from the Central Clinical School showed their support for the cause by travelling to Clayton on the 28th October 2022 to join nearly 200 other students from across Monash at a sit-in protest in front of the Chancellery building. The campaign also garnered over 2,200 signatures for a petition presented to President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC.

This week, Monash internally announced a 10% increase to the stipend rate, bringing the annual rate to $33,000 from 1 January 2023.  This represents a hard-won victory for HDR students and will provide a modest safety net against cost of living pressures in the year to come. 

The new rate places Monash HDR students above the Henderson Poverty Line. However, students will remain 10% below minimum wage and the 4th lowest paid out of Go8 universities (Figure 1: 2023).


  1. Monash Graduate Association, “Monash HDR Stipend Report 2022”, accessed 14 November 2022 https://mga.monash.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/MGA-HDR-Stipend-Report-2022.pdf
  2. Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research, “Poverty Lines: Australia March Quarter 2022,” accessed 14 November 2022 https://melbourneinstitute.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/4222195/Poverty-Lines-Australia-March-2022.pdf

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