Thinking of Doing Postgraduate Studies in Australia? Here’s Your 101 Guide to Secure a Scholarship (Part 1)

Thinking of Doing Postgraduate Studies in Australia? Here’s Your 101 Guide to Secure a Scholarship (Part 1)

Are you thinking to do Master’s or PhD in Australia? Alex Senaputra shares his insights on how to secure a scholarship.

My name is Alex Senaputra, an Indonesian who did postgraduate studies in Australia and currently works in United States (you can check my story here). This article is a part of a series that discusses learning, living and working experience in Australia. In this article, I will share my point of views about where to apply for postgraduate scholarships.

Scholarships from the government

One of the major sources of scholarships is the government scholarship.  It can be provided by the Australian government, such as Australia Awards Indonesia (administered by AusAID), or it can be given by the Indonesian government, such as DIKTI or more popular one recently is LPDP.  In this case you do not have to compete with other applications from outside Indonesia.  However, that does not mean that it will be relatively easy to get one.  Australia Awards is more likely to be granted to the applicants with outstanding education record.  For the scholarships from Indonesian government, it is stated in their website that they are also targeting specific applicants such as lecturers for DIKTI or those working and willing to study in several national priority areas for LPDP.

The good thing about the government scholarship is that they value your involvement in community development.  For example, if you can show your leadership in an NGO addressing issues considered important for Indonesia then it will be a big plus for you.

Scholarships from Australian universities

Besides the government scholarships, there also scholarships administered by the Australian universities.  One of the most well-known one is the IPRS (International Postgraduate Research Scholarships).  If you go to any Australian university website and type “IPRS” on its search function, I guarantee that you will see the results relevant to such scholarship.  Just like its name, this kind of scholarship is only for postgraduate research student.

For those who are not familiar with the postgraduate education system, the term of “postgraduate” (or “graduate” in American education system) refers to the level of education after bachelor, including master and PhD.  In Australia, all PhD students are research students who are working in the labs for their theses (as the main requirement for degree completion) and normally not required to sit in classes (except in very few cases).  For Master’s degree, you can enroll as a research or a coursework student.  The term of “coursework” refers to a system like in bachelor degree where you have to sit in classes and pass the exams to complete your degree.

Back to IPRS, the applicants must then be prospective research students (Master or PhD).  The best way to get it is by previously contacting a potential supervisor.  He/she will be able to help you making a strong research proposal that will be assessed by the scholarship committee. Also note that, the numbers of IPRS available are dependent on the size of the university, the bigger the university the higher numbers of IRPS provided. However, the applicants also need to compete with others from outside Australia.

Other scholarships

Apart from the government and university scholarships, there is also a CRC scholarship.  CRC stands for Corporative Research Centre. Basically it is a centre that receives funding from various sources (e.g. government, industries) and a fraction of it is often allocated to support research students doing project that falls under the centre’s priority areas. Sometimes, they co-operate with universities where the centre pays for the student’s living cost while the university waives the student’s tuition fee. This is a win-win solution where the research capability of both the CRC and the university can be improved with minimum cost.

The CRC scholarship is a project-specific where CRC staff(s) has a project ready-to-go and needs a research student to carry that out. That is why this scholarship best suits applicants with very specific backgrounds.  For example, if you are studying mining engineering and have hands-on experience in Indonesian mining industry, you can be a good candidate of awardee for the CRC that delivers mining projects – if they have a scholarship opening. I, for example, was a recipient of a CRC scholarship for both my master and PhD degree.  JASON ( is a postgraduate scholarship search engine where you can find links related to IPRS and CRC scholarships.

Now you know that there are many ways where you can get funding. Good luck and stay tuned! In the next articles, I will write about other important issues, from student-supervisor relationship, top-up scholarships to presentation skills, etc.


Photo from Australia Plus

Alexander Senaputra is a metallurgist by training. He got his master and PhD degrees in extractive metallurgist in Australia and is currently working in US as a research metallurgist. He has solid years of industrial experience and the industry he has been working in involves mining, consultancy, chemicals and R&D. He likes to spend his spare time travelling, reading books about mining and metal industry and writing articles about similar subjects for newspapers. Alexander believes that every disadvantage has its own advantage, that’s what brings him this far. If you need to reach him, please send an email to