PhD students in Australia are under a lot of pressure to finish their degree 'on time' - but why? Mary-Helen Ward has just completed a PhD on the PhD in Australia at the University of Sydney. I read a draft of her impressive thesis and learned a lot myself about the system. I asked Mary-Helen if she would do a post to explain the dark arts of research student funding and this post is the result. I hope it makes the situation a bit clearer, for those in Australia at least.
In Australian culture we are uncomfortable talking about money. In the absence of a frank discussion, there continues to be a view that it is a rite of passage to starve in your garret while you do your PhD, which I think is an entirely wrongheaded way to treat some of your nation's smartest people (are you listening Julia Gillard?). International students are particularly hard up; I honestly don't know how they do it.