PhD

MEAFA PhD Top-Up

MEAFA's mission involves the development of research infrastructure for supporting the highest standards in financial analysis research by seeking improvements in research design and statistical/mathematical modelling.

A critical step towards achieving this mission is the ongoing investment in cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional training of PhD students. Since October 2011, MEAFA offers significant top-ups to holders of primary scholarships and accordingly invites applications.

Call for applications: there is 1 available top-up scholarship for PhD studies commencing semester 2, 2014.

Description of the MEAFA PhD Top-Up

The MEAFA PhD research scholarship is a competitive award that is provided as a top-up to holders of full-time  primary PhD scholarships providing a living allowance.

The primary PhD  scholarship, which must be obtained from another source, forms the basis of the  PhD stipend. Examples of primary scholarships include the Australian  Postgraduate Award (APA), the University Postgraduate Award (UPA), the Business School International Research Scholarship (BSIRS), the Business School Research  Scholarship (BSRS, for local students), and awards from other sponsoring  institutions (e.g. the Chinese Scholarship Council). The MEAFA top-up is available for as long as the primary scholarship is in effect up to the maximum of 3.5 years.

Commonwealth guidelines state that the top-up for an APA primary scholarship should not exceed 75% of its value. The University of Sydney applies this 75% maximum to all scholarships held at the University for equity reasons.

As at July 2011, the annual stipend of an APA/UPA was AU$22,860 and therefore the 75% maximum top-up was set at $17,145. The Business School already provides a partial top-up for APA/UPA of AU$7,140, and therefore the MEAFA top-up is restricted to AU$10,005, which brings the total stipend to AU$40,005 ($22,860+$7,140+$10,005) per annum.

The APA/UPA are the highest ranked scholarships, and therefore any top-ups offered by MEAFA for any other type of primary scholarship should not exceed the overall of AU$40,005.

In either case, the MEAFA top-up cannot exceed $15,000 per annum.

Table 1 illustrates how the MEAFA top-up would apply to a holder of an APA/UPA, BSIRS, BSRS or some other national or international primary scholarship (figures are stated per annum in Australian dollars, based on 2011 rates):

Table 1: MEAFA PhD top-up illustration: the case of APA/UPA, BSIRS, BRRS and other examples
Type of primary scholarship Annual stipendOther known top-ups in placeMEAFA top-upTotal stipend [1]

APA/UPA

22,860

7,140 [2]

10,005

40,005

BSRS

30,000

Nil

10,005

40,005 [3]

BSIRS

20,000

Nil

15,000 [4]

35,000

Example 1

22,000

Nil

15,000 [4]

37,000

Example 2 [5]

26,000

Nil

14,005

40,005 [3]

[1] PhD scholarships received in Australia (primary and top-up) are currently tax-exempted.
[2] This partial top-up is offered by the Business School to all APA/UPA holders.
[3] The total value of the primary scholarship plus the top-up cannot exceed AU$40,005 per annum.
[4] The MEAFA top-up cannot exceed AU$15,000 per annum.
[5] Note that a scholarship with stipend that is obtained outside Australia may not cover tuition fees payable by international students.

Conditions

The MEAFA top-up is available to full-time students who hold a primary scholarship providing a living allowance and who intend to complete a PhD degree at The University of Sydney Business School.

The MEAFA top-up is conditional on the tenure and restrictions of the primary scholarship, and is awarded as a supplement to that scholarship. The following key conditions hold:

  • The thesis topic and the supervision structure must meet MEAFA's criteria, i.e. to carry out research in financial analysis using advanced quantitative research methods.
  • The candidate must receive cross-disciplinary supervision by MEAFA members who have contributed to the funding of the MEAFA scholarship.
  • The MEAFA top-up may be awarded either to prospective PhD students who have been awarded a PhD scholarship, or to current PhD students who already hold an existing scholarship.
  • The tenure of MEAFA top-ups matches the tenure of the primary scholarship, up to a maximum of 3.5 years.
  • If the primary scholarship is revoked, then the MEAFA top-up is automatically cancelled.
  • The top-up award is further subject to a MEAFA annual review, and may be revoked if progress is inadequate or not in accordance with the agreed contribution to the MEAFA research programme. The revocation will follow a 6-month warning.

Additional MEAFA funding

Holders of the MEAFA top-up may also qualify for the following additional funding, conditional on availability of funds:

  • Travel up to $4,000 per annum, to facilitate attendance at international intensive research training events hosted by institutions that collaborate with MEAFA. Whilst the itinerary may vary according to the needs of each student, all students will be required to travel overseas at least once each year for specific research training. Additional travel funds may be allocated depending on the needs of the PhD topic.
  • Equipment up to $3,000 during the PhD candidature, including laptop, external hard drives etc. Additional equipment funds may be allocated depending on the needs of the PhD topic.
  • International students may also apply for up to $3,000 for relocation expenses, if relocation is not covered by their primary scholarship award.

This funding is additional to any travel and conference funding that may be accessed through the Discipline and the Business School.

Selection process and supervision

The MEAFA top-up is available to both national and international students who are successful in obtaining a primary scholarship providing a living allowance from Australia or from overseas for study in Australia. Holders of awards provided by the Business School, APA, UPA, CSC or USWS, automatically qualify for consideration. Holders of other types of primary scholarship must meet the criteria outlined in the Entry Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy (see http://sydney.edu.au/business/futurestudents/admissions_and_enrolment/pg_research).

The top-ups are competitive and are awarded on the basis of academic merit. They are intended to attract students with an outstanding track record and research potential. The following key criteria will apply in the selection process:

  • The proposed thesis must be relevant to MEAFA's aims and scope. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to, the market valuation of equity and debt, modelling of financial statement information, forecasting financial information or events, information disclosures for capital markets, corporate restructuring transactions, credit analysis, earning properties, audit fee modelling etc.
  • Candidates must show an aptitude for working with advanced quantitative research methods in financial analysis, and the achievements of candidates will be assessed relative to the opportunities that have been available to them.
  • PhD candidates must receive cross-disciplinary supervision by two MEAFA supervisors that have contributed to the financing of the MEAFA scholarship.

Successful applicants may reside in any of the MEAFA disciplines. For example, if the proposed research study relates to the development of a new method of analysis, then it may be more appropriate for the student to reside in Business Analytics. If the thesis places greater weight on the empirical evaluation of a financial analysis problem using advanced research tools, then it may be more appropriate for the student to reside in Accounting or in Finance.

The MEAFA top-up will be awarded by the Business School following the recommendation of the MEAFA selection committee comprising of Demetris Christodoulou (Accounting), Richard Gerlach (Business Analytics), and David Johnstone (Finance). Other MEAFA-members may be invited to participate in the selection process where appropriate.

Applicants may contact demetris.christodoulou@sydney.edu.au in order to discuss potential research topics and available supervision arrangements. 

Review process

Progress will be assessed annually (a) by the discipline where the student is located and (b) by MEAFA. A further annual review may be required by the sponsor of the primary scholarship (e.g. the Business School).

The MEAFA annual review will take place in January, following the annual MEAFA meeting, when the student will receive input from MEAFA members at the University of Sydney and from international members who will be invited to the presentation.

Applications

Applications for the MEAFA top-up must be submitted by 30th November (for PhD studies commencing in the first semester) and 30th May (for PhD studies commencing in the second semester). These are the same closing dates as those currently in force with respect to applications for postgraduate study in the Business School.

Applications should be sent by email to demetris.christodoulou@sydney.edu.au and should include a curriculum vitae, a copy of academic transcript(s), and the names and contact details of at least two referees.

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