Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society

This book explores and compares the systems of doctoral education in twelve higher education systems, consisting of four systems in East Asia, four in Europe and four Anglo-American systems.The emphasis placed on doctoral education and training has increased dramatically in many higher education systems in response to the global competition for highly skilled human resources to serve the needs of knowledge societies. Doctoral education is a key element within the research and development infrastructure, and doctoral students support university research and represent the next generation of the professoriate. While doctoral education has received considerable attention within national higher education systems, there has been surprisingly little international or comparative research on the structure of doctoral education and the nature of contemporary reforms.

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Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5

Jung Cheol Shin · Barbara M. Kehm  Glen A. Jones Editors

Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society Convergence or Divergence in National Approaches?

Knowledge Studies in Higher Education Volume 5 Series Editors Professor Jung Cheol Shin, Seoul National University, South Korea Dr. Hugo Horta, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China Editorial Board Prof. Dr. Ulrich Teichler, University of Kassel, Germany Prof. Loet Leydesdorff, Amsterdam School of Communications Research, The Netherlands Prof. Simon Marginson, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, UK Prof. Keun Lee, Seoul National University, Korea Prof. Gary Rhoades, University of Arizona, USA

Scope of the Series Even though knowledge is the main content of teaching and universities are key knowledge producers, scholars have only recently begun to actively explore research on knowledge studies in higher education. As this field of study has grown, it has increasingly overlapped with the research focus of other fields, namely research and science policy, and information studies. However, these three fields have developed independently with little interaction between them, causing our understanding of knowledge to be limited, compartmented, and lacking a multidimensional perspective. This book series is designed to improve knowledge studies in higher education by stimulating interactions between these different approaches. Coverage in this series includes: • • • • • • • •

University and knowledge production R & D funding systems Education reforms Innovation systems for emerging regions School curriculum and knowledge Social utility of knowledge production University research and in-house research Research collaborations.

With its comprehensive overview and multidisciplinary perspective, this series provides scholars and policymakers with the theory and data they need to make more informed decisions regarding knowledge research in higher education. More information about this series at

Jung Cheol Shin  •  Barbara M. Kehm Glen A. Jones Editors

Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society Convergence or Divergence in National Approaches?

Editors Jung Cheol Shin Department of Education Seoul National University Seoul, South Korea

Barbara M. Kehm School of Education University of Glasgow Glasgow, UK

Glen A. Jones Ontario Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto Toronto, ON, Canada

ISSN 2566-7106     ISSN 2566-8315 (electronic) Knowledge Studies in Higher Education ISBN 978-3-319-89712-7    ISBN 978-3-319-89713-4 (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2018951712 © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


The emphasis placed on doctoral education and training (hereafter, doctoral education) has increased dramatically in many higher education systems in response to the global competition for highly skilled human resources to serve the needs of knowledge societies. Doctoral education is a key element within the research and development infrastructure, and doctoral students support university research and represent the next generation of the professoriate. Doctoral education therefore plays a role in global rankings, which largely focus on research, and in initiatives designed to create world-class universities. The top-ranked universities place a considerable emphasis on doctoral education, and they actively compete for the best doctoral students who, in turn, contribute to the reputation of the institution. Given this context, it is important to understand whether there has been a continuation of distinct national approaches to doctoral education or whether there has a shift towards the development of a more common “global” approach in terms of quality, standards and requirements. Higher education systems continue to be “national” in structure, mission and funding, and unique national approaches to doctoral education can be seen as a function of different histories, cultures and traditions. At the same time, there appear to common pressures for reform. There is an increasing interest in the development of “world-class” universities and in adopting policies and approaches associated with these leading institutions. In many systems, there has also been an increasing interest in reforming the doctorate with a view towards more directly addressing the needs of the nonacademic labour market by emphasizing transferable skills, general competences and entrepreneurial activities. Are these pressures leading towards a convergence of approaches to doctoral education, or are government policies and institutional traditions reinforcing distinct national goals and approaches? While doctoral education has received considerable attention within national higher education systems, there has been surprisingly little international or comparative research on the structure of doctoral education and the nature of contemporary reforms. Much of recent literature on the reform of doctoral education has focused on US research universities (with relatively little research on doctoral programmes at low-status universities within this highly stratified system) or on reforms v



in Europe as part of the Bologna Process. There is obviously a need to understand doctoral education in other parts of the world and to explore the trends and direction of national reforms from a comparative, international perspective. This book is organized to explore and compare the systems of doctoral education in 12 higher education systems. We selected four competitive higher education systems in East Asia (Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan) as well as four European systems (Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland) and four Anglo-American systems (the USA, the UK, Australia and Canada) for this book. We hope that this book contributes to a broader understanding of doctoral education in the world. In addition, we hope that it will encourage academic discourses on how doctoral education differs across countries and how they have been institutionalized in different ways. Finally, we thank our colleagues who participated in the workshop of the Academic Profession in the Knowledge Society hosted by Seoul National University in April 2016. We are much advantaged because of their invaluable comments about the changing nature of doctoral education across countries. In addition, we appreciate the assistance of Heejin Lim, a PhD candidate at Seoul National University. We could not have managed the editing process without her help. We acknowledge that partial fulfillment of this work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2014028698). Seoul, South Korea Glasgow, UK Toronto, ON, Canada

Jung Cheol Shin Barbara M. Kehm Glen A. Jones


1 The Increasing Importance, Growth, and Evolution of Doctoral Education������������������������������������������������������������������������������    1 Jung Cheol Shin, Barbara M. Kehm, and Glen A. Jones Part I Doctoral Education in European Systems 2 Doctoral Education, Training and Work in Germany��������������������������   13 Christian Schneijderberg and Ulrich Teichler 3 Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments������������������������������������������������������������������������������������   35 Lars Geschwind 4 Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake of the Knowledge Society?������������������������������������������������   51 Lukas Baschung 5 A Tale of Expansion and Change: Major Trends in Doctoral Training and in the Doctoral Population in Portugal ��������������������������   67 Pedro Teixeira and Pedro Videira Part II Doctoral Education in Anglo-American Systems 6 US Doctoral Study to Early Career��������������������������������������������������������   91 William K. Cummings and Olga Bain 7 Growth and Diversification of Doctoral Education in the United Kingdom����������������������������������������������������������������������������  105 Barbara M. Kehm, Richard P. J. Freeman, and William Locke




8 Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia ��������������������������������������������������������������  123 Peter James Bentley and V. Lynn Meek 9 Doctoral Education in Canada ��������������������������������������������������������������  147 Glen A. Jones Part III Doctoral Education in East Asian Systems 10 Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  167 Akira Arimoto 11 Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent Research Hub����������������������������������������������  183 Heejin Lim and Jung Cheol Shin 12 Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education��������������������  203 Futao Huang 13 Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������  223 Robin Jung-Cheng Chen 14 Conclusion: Doctoral Education and Training – A Global Convergence? ��������������������������������������������������������������������������  237 Barbara M. Kehm, Jung Cheol Shin, and Glen A. Jones

About the Editors and Authors

Editors Jung Cheol Shin  is a Professor at Seoul National University. He served for the Ministry of Education in Korea for about 20 years. His research interests are higher education policy, organizational studies, knowledge and social development and academic profession. His recent book publications include University Rankings (2011), Institutionalization of World-Class University (2012), The Dynamics of Higher Education Development in East Asia (2013), Teaching and Research in Contemporary Higher Education (2014), The Future of the Post-Massified University at the Crossroads (2014) and Mass Higher Education Development in East Asia: Strategy, Quality, and Challenges (2015). Barbara M. Kehm  is currently Professor of Leadership and International Strategic Development in Higher Education at the University of Glasgow’s School of Education, UK. She is a core member of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change. From 2003 to 2011, she was a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Kassel and the Director of the International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER) from 2004 to 2011. She has published more than 30 books and over 200 journal articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics in her field. Her particular areas of expertise are higher education governance, internationalization in and of higher education and professionalization processes within higher education. Barbara M.  Kehm was Secretary of European Association for Institutional Research (EAIR) and of Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER). She also was a member of the International Advisory Board of the University of Helsinki between 2012 and 2014 and is currently a member of the Board of Governors of two German universities. She is regularly reviewing manuscripts for about ten international journals in her field and is an often requested reviewer for research applications to national research councils in six European countries.



About the Editors and Authors

Glen A. Jones  is Professor of Higher Education and Dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. He is the author of more than 100 papers on Canadian higher education. His research and teaching focuses on higher education systems, governance, politics and academic work. His recent books include Governance of Higher Education: Global Perspectives, Theories and Practices (with Ian Austin, Routledge, 2015) and  Universities and Regional Development: A Critical Assessment of Tensions and Contradictions (with Romulo Pinheiro and Paul Benneworth, Routledge, 2012). Detailed information on his research activities can be found at

Authors Akira Arimoto  is the President Advisor at Hyogo University and was Director and Professor of the Research Institute for Higher Education (RIHE) at Kurashiki Sakuyo University (KSU) and also at Hiroshima University. Dr. Arimoto was the former President at Kurashiki Sakuyo University (KSU). He is Professor Emeritus of Hiroshima University, Associate Member of the Japan Council of Science and President of the National Association of RIHE. He served as Chair of UNESCO’s Global Scientific Committee for the Asian and Pacific region. He was former President of the Japanese Association of Higher Education Research and also of the Japan Society of Educational Sociology. He was the visiting scholar to Yale University, Max Planck Institute and Lancaster University as the first Nitobe Fellow of the International House of Japan. He has published many books and articles. His recent publications as an editor include Teaching and Research in Contemporary Higher Education (2014) and The Changing Academic Profession in Japan (2015). Olga Bain  received her PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research focuses on change in higher education as influenced by global, institutional, faculty and student agencies. She has published on internationalization and globalization of higher education, faculty productivity and women’s advancement in academia, higher education financing and institutional strategies of change. Olga has authored the book titled University Autonomy in the Russian Federation Since Perestroika (2003, Routledge Falmer). Lukas Baschung  Born in 1980 in Switzerland (Solothurn), Lukas Baschung studied political sciences at the University of Lausanne. His PhD thesis focused on doctoral education’s reform in Switzerland and Norway with an analytical approach in the field of public management. Simultaneously he contributed to several research projects in the 6th European Framework Programme. From 2010 to 2016, he has been working for the government of the canton of Vaud, within the Board of Higher Education, lastly as Operational Director. Since February 2017, he is Professor and the Dean of the Business Administration Programme at the University of Applied Sciences Haute école de gestion Arc.

About the Editors and Authors


Peter James Bentley  is a Policy Adviser at the Innovative Research Universities, an association of seven comprehensive research universities in Australia. He is also an Honorary Fellow at the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne, where he previously worked as a Research Fellow from 2011 to 2017. Peter has also worked as a Research Associate at the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and in policy and administration for Australian state and territory governments. His research interests are industrial relations and the academic profession, and he is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. Robin Jung-Cheng Chen  is currently affiliated with National Chengchi University (NCCU) as a Professor of the Department of Education. His research fields include comparative education, education policy and sociology of education. He was the coordinator of Changing Academic Profession in Asia for Taiwan team from 2013 to 2015 conducted by Hiroshima University and was the Vice Provost of NCCU from 2015 to 2016. He is also the corresponding Professor of Seattle Pacific University, USA, Guest Professor of Tohoku University in Japan and a consultant of the UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force. William K. Cummings  received his PhD from Harvard University with a dissertation on “The Academic Marketplace and University Reform in Japan” in 1972 and currently is Professor Emeritus of International Education and International Affairs at George Washington University. Dr. Cummings has been involved in development work for over 25 years, including long-term residence in Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore and short-term consultancies in over 15 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Richard P. J. Freeman  is Senior Lecturer in Research Methods at the Centre for Doctoral Education, UCL Institute of Education, University College London. He is Deputy Director of the UCL, Bloomsbury and East London (UBEL) Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). He is also Programme Leader for the Online MPhil/PhD and Programme Leader for Researcher Development. He is a co-author with William Locke on a report for the ESRC on “Early career social science researchers: experiences and support needs”. His other areas of research include researcher developer professional identity, doctoral identity and transitioning into doctoral study. Lars  Geschwind  is Associate Professor in Engineering Education Policy and Leadership at the Department of Learning, KTH Royal Institute of Technology. His main research interests are higher education policy, institutional governance and academic work. He is currently involved in a number of externally funded projects focusing on change processes in higher education institutions. Among other publications, he has recently edited (with Romulo Pinheiro and Timo Aarrevaara) the volume Mergers in Higher Education: The Experience from Northern Europe (Springer).


About the Editors and Authors

Futao  Huang  is Professor at the Research Institute for Higher Education, Hiroshima University, Japan. He earned his BA, MA and PhD in Chinese universities. Before he came to Japan in 1999, he had taught in several Chinese universities. His major research fields are concerned with university curricular development, internationalization of higher education and a comparative study of higher education in East Asia. Since the late 1990s, he has published widely in Chinese, English and Japanese languages in many international peer-reviewed journals, including Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education Policy, Higher Education Policy and Management, Journal of Studies in International Education and so on. In 2014, he co-edited The Internationalization of the Academy: Changes, Realities and Prospects which was published by Springer. Furthermore, he is member of Editorial Advisory Board of Journal of Studies in International Education, Higher Education, Policy Reviews in Higher Education and Cogent Education. Heejin  Rachel  Lim  is a Researcher at Research Institute of Education at the College of Education in Seoul National University. Her research interests are internationalization of higher education, doctoral education and students’ experiences in comparative perspective. Dr. Lim received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nottingham (2007) in the UK and master’s degree and doctoral degree from Seoul National University (2014) William  Locke  is Reader in Higher Education Studies at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. He is  Director of the Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) and the MBA Higher Education Management Programme and is Deputy Director of the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).  William was formerly Head of Learning and Teaching policy at  the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Assistant Director of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI) at the Open University and Deputy Director of Policy Development at Universities UK.  He is a member of the Governing Council and Publications Committee of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) and Joint Editor of the new SRHE journal, Policy Reviews in Higher Education.  He is author of reports for the UK Higher Education Academy (HEA) on academic work and careers  and, with Richard Freeman, for the Economic and Social Research Council on “Early career social science researchers: experiences and support needs”.  Between 2006 and 2010, he led the UK part of the international study of the Changing Academic Profession and was coordinating editor of  Changing Governance and Management in Higher Education: The Perspectives of the Academy (Springer, 2011). He has a wide range of other publications and has given keynote presentations at international conferences in North America, Japan, China, Australia and throughout Europe. V. Lynn Meek  is a Professorial Fellow and Foundation Director of the LH Martin Institute at the University of Melbourne. Lynn Meek was previously Professor and Director of the Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy at the University of New England. Having completed a PhD in Sociology of higher

About the Editors and Authors


education at the University of Cambridge, he has over three decades experience researching higher education policy issues. Specific research interests include governance and management, research management, diversification of higher education institutions and systems, institutional amalgamations, organizational change and the comparative study of higher education systems. He has attracted numerous competitive research grants and is regularly invited to address international conferences. Lynn has published more than 30 books and monographs and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters. He is on the editorial board of several international journals and book series, is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Studies in Higher Education and has worked with such international agencies as the UNESCO and the OECD. Christian Schneijderberg  is Head of the research unit Innovation and Transfer at INCHER-Kassel (International Centre of Higher Education Research at the University of Kassel), Germany. He is working at INCHER-Kassel since March 2009 and did his PhD in Sociology. Ulrich Teichler  was Professor at the University of Kassel, Germany, from 1978 to 2013 and former Director for altogether 16 years of the International Centre for Higher Education Research (INCHER-Kassel; previously Centre for Research on Higher Education and Work). His key research areas include higher education and the world of work, international comparison of higher education systems, international cooperation and mobility in higher education and the academic profession. Expert, consultancy, evaluation and review activities for the UNESCO, OECD, World Bank, Council of Europe, European Commission, various national governments and agencies as well as international and national university organizations. Pedro Teixeira  is Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Porto. In addition, he is Director of CIPES – the Center for Research in Higher Education Policies. He has been a member of Portugal’s National Council of Education since 2014 and has served as an adviser on higher education to the President of Portugal since April 2016. His main research interests are on the economics of education and the history of economics. He has published several journal articles in higher education and economics journals and has authored and/or edited several collective volumes. He is also a member of the Board of Governors and Secretary General of the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER), a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Réseau d'Etudes sur l'Enseignement Supérieur (RESUP). Pedro Videira  is a Researcher at CIPES (Center for Research in Higher Education Policies) and a PhD candidate at ISCTE –University Institute of Lisbon. His main research interests are on the internationalization of higher education and research and the sociology of science. He has collaborated in several projects on technologybased entrepreneurship and researchers’ international mobility and published several journal articles and book chapters on those subjects

Chapter 1

The Increasing Importance, Growth, and Evolution of Doctoral Education Jung Cheol Shin, Barbara M. Kehm, and Glen A. Jones

1.1  Introduction The global competition for highly skilled human resources has led to a rapid expansion of doctoral education in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, assumptions concerning the movement toward the knowledge society and aspirations associated with the notion of the world-class university have fueled an increased interest in doctoral education (Shin and Kehm 2012). For example, within the last 15 years, doctoral program enrolments have grown rapidly across countries, and in some cases the rates of growth have been dramatic; data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics reveals that doctoral enrolment has increased by over 150% in the UK and Portugal and over 180% in Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and South Korea (UNESCO 2017). The dramatic growth of doctoral training or doctoral education (hereafter, “doctoral education”) is associated with the rapid expansion of enrolment within countries that have had a more modest level of participation (China, South Korea, Australia, and Canada), as well as the expansion of enrolment by the more traditional doctoral degree providers such as the USA, the UK, Germany, and many European countries (UNESCO 2014). The rapid growth has been strongly supported by governments in various ways, such as increased research funding, student financial assistance, and initiatives designed to facilitate transitions into the labor market. However, there are major differences in how doctoral education  is understood, structured and positioned in different systems. An individual pursuing a doctoral J. C. Shin (*) Department of Education, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea e-mail: [email protected] B. M. Kehm School of Education, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK G. A. Jones Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



J. C. Shin et al.

degree is considered a “student” in US universities, while the same individual would be considered an “early career researcher” in the traditional Humboldtian systems (Teichler 2006). These systemic differences have recently decreased with the emergence of policy initiatives in some jurisdictions that are designed to standardize doctoral education to enhance the international recognition of doctoral degrees (Kehm 2007). The Bologna Process of 1999, for example, triggered the reforms of doctoral education systems in Europe (Kehm 2007; Sadlak 2004). Similarly, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, doctoral education  in Japan transformed from a traditional Humboldtian model focusing on individual research and seminars to a structure that more closely resembles the US model focusing on coursework and supervised research. In addition, latecomers to doctoral education in East Asia began to adopt some elements from the US doctoral education model, though many recognize that US doctoral education is also struggling with many challenges (Cassuto 2015). One might consider these changes as a global convergence of doctoral education toward standardized structures and programs primarily associated with the US model. However, a careful analysis of reforms across systems would find that there continue to be important differences in doctoral education by country because while each higher education system imported some ideas from the US and German systems, these structures and models were adapted and modified within the unique context of each higher education system (Sadlak 2004; Teichler 2006). Nevertheless, we observe that there are growing similarities across systems in response to pressures related to international recognition of credentials, international student mobility, and an increasingly international academic labor market. There are also labor market pressures associated with global markets. For example, as employers increasingly emphasize the research training component of doctoral graduates in the hiring process, universities in some jurisdictions have placed increasing emphasis on strengthening the research training component of their graduate programs (Melin and Janson 2006). In addition, universities in some jurisdictions have taken steps to widen the scope of doctoral education beyond simply educating future scholars to include training for a much broader range of careers outside the academy (Lee et al. 2009; Mars et al. 2014).

1.2  Different Societal Perspectives on Doctoral Education There are quite different approaches to doctoral education associated with the two doctoral models found in Europe and the USA.  In Europe, doctoral education  is “training” because most of the European systems did not have official education systems or programs for training their researchers, while the US systems developed “education” degree programs in line with bachelor-master-doctoral degrees (Teichler 2006). The systematic differences between Europe and the USA bring different perspectives on the doctoral degree seekers as a “junior researcher” or “doctoral candidate” in Europe and as a “doctoral student” in the USA (Kehm 2006). The systemic differences between the two major systems bring different social perceptions and social systems of doctoral education in both continents. For example, European systems do not charge tuition for doctoral degree seekers, while tuition

1  The Increasing Importance, Growth, and Evolution of Doctoral Education


Table 1.1  Comparisons between Europe, the USA, and East Asian models

Social perception Training model Doctoral students Tuition charge Training after doctoral degree

European models Doctoral training Supervision model Employee No tuition Habilitation

US model Doctoral education Coursework + supervised research Student Tuition Postdoctoral training

East Asian models Doctoral education + training Coursework-based + supervised research Student Tuition Postdoctoral training

fees are charged in the USA (though frequently waived to attract the very best students). In addition, university research activities are closely linked to doctoral education, so that doctoral students are frequently employed on funded research projects, and this work is viewed as a key component of the doctoral student experience. In the traditional European conception, research funding focuses on research, and doctoral students may be employed as research workers, but these activities are viewed as distinct from, rather than as an educational component of, doctoral education. Recognizing that there are huge national variations between systems, it may be useful to briefly review differences in what may be seen as three broad models or approaches to doctoral education: the European model, the US model, and what might be defined as an East Asian model. Table 1.1 provides a broad comparative overview of these models. While understanding these broad approaches is useful in a comparative discussion of doctoral education, it is extremely important to note the major variations between national systems that may share some similar characteristics. For example, doctoral education in France is quite different from doctoral education in Germany or other systems in Europe. In addition, the German system and its brother systems (e.g., Austria) are quite different from that of Scandinavian doctoral training systems. As well as these differences within the similar models, there are quite unique national elements associated with doctoral education even within the Scandinavian models and/or within the German systems (Kehm 2004). Most of these unique elements originated from the historical development of doctoral systems in each country. The “master-apprentice” model has been deeply institutionalized in doctoral education  in Europe, though the model is fading away in bachelor and master’s degree levels (Teichler 2006). However, as already noted, these different models appear to be converging as a function of external pressures and a growing interest in standardization, degree ­recognition, and mobility. The US model involves a relatively standardized program of study associated with doctoral education, including coursework, candidacy examinations, and a supervised independent research project leading to a thesis that is examined by a committee of academics, and this standardized “program” approach is commonly viewed as one of the great strengths of this model. Given the


J. C. Shin et al.

fact that the standardized approach associated with the model facilitates transferability and comparability across systems, European countries began to encourage universities to adopt this approach to doctoral education with the Bologna Process in 2000. However, systemic differences between systems remain. The growing use of performance-based accountability regimes in higher education signals another form of pressure to adopt more standardized approaches to doctoral education. In the US context, student progress is measured by coursework completion, satisfying the qualifying exam requirement and successfully defending the thesis (Weidman et al. 2001). These indicators are also frequently used as metrics to measure the performance of the academic department, doctoral program, and doctoral supervisor. With the growing pressures for accountability, standardized doctoral education  approaches might become increasingly attractive within European and East Asian higher education systems. Japan already changed its doctoral education from a supervision model toward a coursework-based model in the early 2000s to improve their global competitiveness. For another example, Norwegian universities have also began to move toward the adoption of a coursework model in 1993 (Broch and Hyllseth 2004). While there are pressures for standardization in the structure of doctoral education, the increasing impact of rankings in higher education and the ambition to create “world-class universities” are also leading to increasing status hierarchies in doctoral programs. The status of the university that confers the doctoral degree is increasingly important in academic labor markets, and there is considerable evidence that major research universities tend to hire graduates from peer institutions (Jones and Gopaul 2012). So there are pressures for standardization at the same time that we see increasing hierarchy in doctoral education linked to institutional ratings and research status.

1.3  K  nowledge Society and Demands for Doctoral Degree Holders Knowledge society discourses are far from new, in large part, because knowledge has long been viewed as fundamental to social development, and knowledge is perhaps a fundamental component of the human civilization. The more contemporary understanding of a “knowledge society” is closely related to the growing importance of information and communication technology (hereafter, “ICT”). Knowledge production, dissemination, and utilization have been massively influenced by ICT since the 1980s when the personal computer first became widely used. The need for highly specialized, professional knowledge became increasingly important for ICT, and increasing levels of participation in higher education became viewed as a key component for continuing economic development within the knowledge society. The university became repositioned as a key institution for economic development given its central role in creating knowledge and in educating the highly skilled human resources required by knowledge industries. University education took on a

1  The Increasing Importance, Growth, and Evolution of Doctoral Education


Table 1.2  Growth of doctoral student enrollment (2000–2015) 2000 2005 2010 2011 2012 Germany 200,400 208,500 Sweden 20,714 22,216 19,986 20,642 21,352 Switzerland 12,933 16,592 20,120 20,953 22,012 Portugal 11,680 18,410 16,877 18,370 19,227 USA 293,002 384,577 479,422 492,345 492,365 UK 74,242 91,607 85,179 90,028 94,949 Australia 27,615 38,776 47,054 49,973 52,317 Canada 26,221 34,770 45,441 47,616 48,612 Japan 59,007 73,527 73,734 74,606 74,950 South Korea 31,787 41,055 53,533 59,699 62,312 China Taiwan

2013 213,200 21,512 22,716 19,471 391,601 109,058 55,086 50,772 74,480 65,938 290,853 4627

2014 2015 214,700 196,200 21,590 21,358 23,237 23,697 20,245 19,310 391,915 394,964 111,395 56,360 74,093 69,975 72,558 306,651 322,648 4443 4386

Data Source: UNESCO database (UNESCO Institute for Statistics) from: http://data.uis.unesco. org/ Taiwan data is from Taiwan Ministry of Education

new importance for students and their parents (Shin 2014). As educational expectations and requirements increased, the bachelor’s degree began to replace the secondary school diploma as a minimum educational standard, and graduate education (first with the master’s degree and now increasingly with the doctorate) began to be viewed as the professional training required in many fields. The recent growth of doctoral enrolment in select countries is provided in Table 1.2. As the Key Science and Engineering Indicators show, the share of economic production in hi-tech and the knowledge economy has been growing rapidly (US National Science Board 2016). These high-technology industries require new knowledge production to support economic production. Knowledge production has evolved to increasingly take on the characteristics of what Gibbons and his colleagues have termed mode 2 research (1994). In addition, interdisciplinary research has been emphasized in national R&D funding schemes as well as traditional disciplinary research (e.g., Carney et al. 2006). However, the university as a social institution has been slow to change, and in many countries the organization of academic units continues to focus primarily on traditional disciplines (Gardner et al. 2012). In academic research, the close relationship between knowledge production and economic development has been focused on technological development, so that the policy initiatives designed to strengthen the relationship between “knowledge production” and “economic development” have focused on “technology transfer.” In response to these social demands, research policy in some countries began to emphasize STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based on the assumption that these fields were of strategic importance in terms of economic development (Usher 2002). In addition, the OECD began to release data on technology transfer as a measure of knowledge-economic development. Theoretically, the close links between university-industry-government are supported by the triple helix proposed by Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1997). In recent dis-


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courses, the concept of technology transfer has been expanded to include notions of knowledge transfer and wisdom transfer to cover various ranges of social interaction between knowledge and social development. These societal changes resulted in the diversification of doctoral degrees and degree holders’ career paths. Doctoral degrees are diversified from the traditional doctor of philosophy (PhD), to judicial doctor (JD), pharmacy doctor (PD), doctor of education (EDD), and a range of new forms of professional and academic degrees. Most of the new doctoral degrees are in professional fields (Boud and Tennant 2006; Lee et al. 2009). In addition, in many countries the career pathways for doctoral degree graduates have expanded beyond traditional academic careers to include a range of opportunities in both the private and public sectors (Enders and Kaulisch 2006). The private sector has become a major career path for doctoral degree holders in the fields of engineering, and growing numbers of doctoral graduates are now employed in the public sector with positions in the state bureaucracy and specialized agencies. These diversified career paths reflect changes in the social and political environment surrounding doctoral education in the knowledge society (see Gokhberg et al. 2016). The changing environment has also influenced doctoral education  programs. With some important national exceptions, doctoral education programs used to be focused on training the next generation of academics. However, doctoral education is rapidly changing in response to the changing social environment associated with the knowledge society (Mars et al. 2014). In addition, doctoral degree holders are experiencing different career paths compared with their senior colleagues because of changes in the academic job market (Enders and Kaulisch 2006). There are increasing expectations for junior academics, and in some countries there has been an increasing fragmentation of academic work with a growth in specialized research and teaching positions, as well as contract and precarious academic labor. In addition, in some countries, there are increasing pressures for faculty to attract external funding and engage in entrepreneurial activities (Mendoza 2007). These entrepreneurial activities are sometimes rationalized as the third mission, so that academics are expected to transform their knowledge production to external activities for resource generation. The changing nature of academic works requires doctoral education  programs to be more market-oriented as well as practiceoriented (Mendoza 2007; Metcalfe 2006).

1.4  Competency Development in the Professional Society With the growing societal demands and diversified career paths of doctoral degree holders, the notion of competency outcomes for the degree has widened from more traditional specialized research skills and knowledge in narrowly defined fields of discipline-based specialization toward more general skills such as writing funding proposals, project management, public relation, etc. These competencies require more general and transferable skills such as interpersonal skills rather than (or in

1  The Increasing Importance, Growth, and Evolution of Doctoral Education


addition to) the specialized knowledge and skills required for academic research (Antony 2002; Austin and McDaniels 2006). Research and, to a lesser extent, teaching skills continue to be viewed as core competencies for doctoral degree holders to survive in academia. However, there are growing social demands for general skills such as communication and interpersonal skills, especially in the globalized network society. In addition, there is a growing discussion on the need for general skills for doctoral degree holders (Antony 2002) though there are also scholars who are highly critical of the ways in which the doctoral degree is being repositioned (Gilbert et al. 2004). There are clearly limitations associated with the traditional master-apprentice model, which explicitly focuses on training the next generation of academics, if the objectives of doctoral education expand to include skill sets needed for work outside of the academic milieu. The model appears to be evolving in some jurisdictions to include coursework requirements, which provide the forum for acquiring new competencies and skills. These coursework requirements sometimes focus on research methodologies or provide students with the flexibility to explore related fields of scholarship. In some cases formal coursework requirements are supplemented with co-curricular programming (e.g., multi-major programs, major and minor systems) that provides students with additional educational options. Much of the recent literature on doctoral education  focuses on competency development across stages of doctoral education. Competency development is sometimes understood in terms of “academic socialization” in some bodies of research on doctoral education. Foundational work on the socialization of doctoral students was conducted by Weidman and his colleagues (2001) and there is an increasing body of literature focusing on this important area of scholarship (e.g., Austin 2002; Gardner 2010). These studies explore how doctoral students develop their understanding of doctoral education and how they develop the value, norms, attitudes, as well as the knowledge and skills associated with their academic disciplines. Socialization theory emphasizes interactions with peers and professors in doctoral education (Weidman et al. 2001). However, it is important to note that much of this work has focused on doctoral education in the USA, Canada, and the UK and that these socialization processes may differ substantially in the context of very different models of doctoral training, especially since different models position the relationships between the trainee, supervisor, and academic environment in very different ways. In many systems there are expectations that the competencies required for academic work require additional training or experience beyond the doctorate. In the German system, completing a habilitation after the initial doctorate is still a frequent step toward an academic career. In some countries and in some disciplines, experience as a postdoctoral scholar is increasingly viewed as a prerequisite for academic careers. Postdoctoral experiences, whether supported by specialized fellowships, or whether they involve precarious contract work as a part-time instructor or research assistance, can play an important role in providing additional experiences that are helpful for career pathways in or outside of academia. These postdoctoral experiences can also allow the recent graduate to develop a profile of publication


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and teaching experience that will increase opportunities in the academic labor market (Corley and Sabharwal 2007; Horta 2009), and postdoctoral work is increasingly viewed as a legitimate, and in some cases necessary, intermediary step between doctoral studies and professional careers (Melin 2004).

1.5  Major Issues to Be Addressed in This Book Given the tremendous changes associated with doctoral education  in a rapidly evolving economic and social context, this book focuses on the evolution of doctoral education within national contexts. Particular attention is paid to the growth of doctoral education programs, career pathways for doctoral graduates, funding, and job prospects. Finally, by looking at these changes through detailed national case studies, the book provides a foundation for exploring the question of whether there is a trend toward convergence in doctoral education  across systems, or whether there continue to be important national or regional differences in models and assumptions. The core issues related to doctoral education in this book are: • Historical approach to doctoral education  in each system and recent developments • The expansion of participation of female and foreign doctoral students in the growth of doctoral education • Diversified career paths for doctoral degree holders and national discussions of competencies associated with the degree • Funding for doctoral students • Quality control of doctoral education • Changing job market prospects for doctoral degree holders The core of the book are 12 national case studies of doctoral education written by noted national experts. Four of these studies focus on continental European systems, four focus on Anglo-American systems, and four focus on East Asian systems. The continental European systems include Germany, the home of the Humboldtian model of the university; Switzerland, which was heavily influenced by Germany but has many distinctive features; Sweden, as an example of a Nordic doctoral education system; and Portugal, as an example of a Southern European system. The Anglo-American systems include the USA and Canada (the latter having been heavily influenced by the American model) and the UK and Australia (which has been heavily influenced by the British model). The East Asian systems included in this volume are Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan, representing the fastest growing region for doctoral education in the world. Each of these countries has a unique history in terms of doctoral education, frequently influenced by a unique history of international relationships and influence. These 12 systems obviously do not represent the whole world of doctoral education, and we recognize the important limitations associated with this project, but we believe that the diversity of systems represented in this volume will add to

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our understanding of the evolution of doctoral education across systems. It will also allow us to explore the question of whether changes taking place across these systems are moving doctoral education in a common direction, or whether we are seeing a growth in hybridization and unique national responses to local pressures. Given the increasing importance placed on doctoral education in so many parts of the world, it is extremely important to understand national reforms and global trends.

References Antony, J. S. (2002). Reexamining doctoral student socialization and professional development: Moving beyond the congruence and assimilation orientation. In J.C. Smart & W.G. Tierney (Eds.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp.  349–380). Dordrecht: Springer. Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the next generation of faculty: Graduate school as socialization to the academic career. Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), 94–122. Austin, A. E., & McDaniels, M. (2006). Preparing the professoriate of the future: Graduate student socialization for faculty roles. In J.C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. XXI, pp. 397–456). Dordrecht: Springer. Boud, D., & Tennant, M. (2006). Putting doctoral education to work: Challenges to academic practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 25(3), 293–306. Broch, I., & Hyllseth, B. (2004). Norway. In J. Sadlak (Ed.), Doctoral studies and qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and prospects. Bucharest: UNESCO, Author. Carney, J., Chawla, D., Wiley, A., & Young, D. (2006). Evaluation of the initial impacts of the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (NSF 06-17). Arlington: National Science Foundation. Cassuto, L. (2015). Graduate school mess: What caused it and how we can fix it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Corley, E. A., & Sabharwal, M. (2007). Foreign-born academic scientists and engineers: Producing more and getting less than their US-born peers? Research in Higher Education, 48(8), 909–940. Enders, J., & Kaulisch, M. (2006). The binding and unbinding of academic careers. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars (pp. 85–95). London: Portland Press Ltd. Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (1997). Universities and the global knowledge economy: A triple helix of university-industry-government relations. London: Francis Pinter. Gardner, S. K. (2010). Contrasting the socialization experiences of doctoral students in high-and low-completing departments: A qualitative analysis of disciplinary contexts at one institution. The Journal of Higher Education, 81(1), 61–81. Gardner, S., et al. (2012). Interdisciplinary doctoral student socialization. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7, 377–394. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage. Gilbert, R., Balatti, J., Turner, P., & Whitehouse, H. (2004). The generic skills in research higher degrees. Higher Education Research and Development, 23(3), 375–388. Gokhberg, L., Shamtko, N., & Auriol, L. (Eds.). (2016). The science and technology labor force. The value of doctorate holders and development of professional careers. Dordrecht: Springer. Horta, H. (2009). Holding a post-doctoral position before becoming a faculty member: Does it bring benefits for the scholarly enterprise? Higher Education, 58(5), 689–721.


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Jones, G. A., & Gopaul, B. (2012). Doctoral education and the global university: Study mobility, hierarchy and Canadian government policy. In A. R. Nelson & I. Wei (Eds.), The global university: Past, present and future perspectives (pp. 189–212). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kehm, B. M. (2004). Developing doctoral degrees and qualifications in Europe: Good practice and issues of concern—A comparative analysis. In J. Sadlak (Ed.), Doctoral studies and qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and prospects. Bucharest: UNESCO, Author. Kehm, B. M. (2006). Doctoral education in Europe and North America: A comparative analysis. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars (pp. 105–118). London: Portland Press Ltd. Kehm, B. (2007). Quo Vadis doctoral education? New European approaches in the context of global changes. European Journal of Education, 42(3), 307–319. Lee, A., Brennan, M., & Green, B. (2009). Re-imagining doctoral education: Professional doctorates and beyond. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(3), 275–287. Mars, M., Bresonis, K., & Szelenyi, K. (2014). Science and engineering doctoral student socialization, logics, and the national economic agenda: Alignment or disconnect? Minerva, 52, 351–379. Melin, G. (2004). Postdoc abroad: Inherited scientific contacts or establishment of new networks. Research Evaluation, 13(2), 95–102. Melin, G., & Janson, K. (2006). What skills and knowledge should a PhD have? Changing perceptions for PhD education and post doc work. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars (pp. 105–118). London: Portland Press Ltd. Mendoza, P. (2007). Academic capitalism and doctoral student socialization: A case study. The Journal of Higher Education, 78(1), 71–96. Metcalfe, J. (2006). The changing nature of doctoral programmes. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars (pp. 79–84). London: Portland Press Ltd. Sadlak, J. (2004). Doctoral studies and qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and prospects. Bucharest: UNESCO, Author. Shin, J. C. (2014). University teaching: Redesigning the university as an institution of teaching. In J. Shin & U. Teichler (Eds.), The future of the post-massified university at the crossroads: Restructuring systems and functions (pp. 85–100). Heidelberg: Springer. Shin, J., & Kehm, B.  M. (Eds.). (2012). Institutionalization of world-class university in global competition. Dordrecht: Springer. Teichler, U. (2006). The formative years of scholars. London: Portland Press Ltd. UNESCO. (2014). Higher education in Asia: Expanding out, expanding UP – the rise of graduate education and university research. UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Author. Access: http:// UNESCO. (2017). Distribution of enrollment by level of tertiary education. Downloaded from US National Science Board. (2016). Science and engineering indicators 2016. Arlington: National Science Foundation (NSB-2016-1). Access from: nsb20161/uploads/1/nsb20161.pdf Usher, R. (2002). A diversity of doctorates: Fitness for the knowledge economy? Higher Education Research and Development, 21(2), 143–153. Weidman, J. C., Twale, D. J., & Stein, E. L. (2001). Socialization of graduate and professional students in higher education: A perilous passage? ASHE-ERIC higher education report 28. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ann E. Austin, (2016) Preparing the Next Generation of Faculty. The Journal of Higher Education 73 (1):94-122

Part I

Doctoral Education in European Systems

Chapter 2

Doctoral Education, Training and Work in Germany Christian Schneijderberg and Ulrich Teichler

2.1  Introduction In looking back to around 1990 and specifically looking at the two major international encyclopaedias on higher education published in the early 1990s, we do not find any article on “doctoral education” or “doctoral training”. But each of the encyclopaedias has an article on “graduate education” both authored by US scholars (Rhoades 1991; Gumport 1992) and takes the term in the headline which only applies to the USA. “Graduate education” in the USA is often arranged as integrated master-level and doctoral-level education and training, while other countries borrowing from that model tend to provide for a distinct doctoral-level education and training. Both encyclopaedia articles underscore the variety across countries and thereby refer to the German tradition of doctoral education, training and work as the one most strongly contrasting the US practice. Rhoades (1991, p. 127) terms this model contrasting the “structured” or “programme” model in the USA as an “apprenticeship model”, and Gumport (1992, p. 117) calls it “the nineteenth-­century German ideal of uniting advanced study and research with the work of individual scholars engaged in scientific research”. The difference of basic ideas between the German and the US model of doctoral education can analytically be described as: • Work-based education/training in the German model • Teaching-based education in the US model During the 1980s, economically advanced countries  – in part stimulated by OECD (see Blume and Amsterdamska 1987) – discussed the state of doctoral education, training and work, and proposals gained momentum in many countries to formalize and institutionalize doctoral education and training. The US model, C. Schneijderberg (*) · U. Teichler INCHER-Kassel, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



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described by Rhoades (1991, p. 127) as consisting of “accumulating courses and credits, passing examinations, and producing a dissertation” and as “largely course-­ work driven”, had become quite popular. Gumport (1992, p. 117) described it as “the American model of prescribed curriculum, coupled with more formalized research training, culminating in a thesis that demonstrates original research”. Two arguments were often presented in favour of moving doctoral education and training somewhat towards the US model, which tended to be viewed at that time as the most successful and attractive one. First, concerns spread in some countries amidst increasing internationalization of higher education that one would suffer a “brain drain” to the USA, unless a similarly attractive model of doctoral education was established. Second, more formalized doctoral education combined with the intention of serving a broader range of competencies than merely those required in producing a doctoral dissertation was often viewed as more appropriate for a growing proportion of doctoral candidates among the respective age group: as a consequence, the proportion of doctoral degree holders becoming professionally active outside academia was expected to increase, as pointed out by the OECD.  Research was expected to play an increasingly societal role during the 1990s, as underscored by the rising popularity of the terms “knowledge society” and “knowledge economy” (Bell 1974; Drucker 1969; Stehr 1994). A more careful look at the international discourse on doctoral education and training shows the most frequently raised issues were (see Teichler 2014): • To what extent and in which way does the expansion of higher education call for more formalized and more structured doctoral education? • How and to what extent should doctoral education be diversified amidst diversification trends in the higher education and research systems as well as an increase of doctoral degree holders becoming professionally active outside higher education? • What competencies beyond those needed for conducting research and writing a dissertation should be fostered during the doctoral education phase? • What might help improve the efficiency (e.g. shorter time to degree, higher success rates) and the quality of the doctoral education phase? Actually, more formalized modes of doctoral education spread in recent decades in many countries. As a rule, however, these focussed on doctoral training beyond the master level, while master-level and doctoral-level education is often linked in the USA. Further, most other countries did not opt for a strong supra-disciplinary institutional “roof” of a “graduate school”. Moreover, many European countries introduced various modes of doctoral education and training, whereby detailed curricula provisions apply only for some of these modes. Finally, various European countries consider doctoral candidates to be young researchers rather than students (see the overviews in Kehm 2004; Kehm and Teichler 2016). In Germany, various doctoral programmes and various other elements of formalizing doctoral training were introduced about 1990, while the work-based education model remained the dominant one (Berning and Falk 2005; Hauss and Kaulisch 2012). As will be shown in the following sections, a parallel existence of teaching-based and work-based

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doctorates has become a reality in Germany. Also, this led to a blurring of boundaries between the two types of doctorate (Schneijderberg 2017). This article will use “doctoral training” as an inclusive term for the teaching-based and work-based doctoral education in Germany. The Merriam-Webster1 dictionary defines training “a process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job”. Accordingly the doctorate can be defined as “the state of being trained” to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience for independent academic work. This suggests looking both at the “history” of doctoral training in Germany up to the 1980s as well as at the context of the reform discourses and activities since the 1990s. It should be emphasized that the development of doctoral training as well as the situation of junior academics in Germany is well documented. In Germany, the Federal government issued in 2008, 2013 and again in 2017 a national report on the situation of junior academics (BMBF 2008; KBWN 2013, 2017). The reports were based on a thorough analysis of available statistics, research findings and policy findings relevant to the two career stages of junior scholars (Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs) with the doctorate and the habilitation. The first stage is characterized by work on a dissertation as the first book along with other activities in academia. The second stage is situated between the award of a doctoral degree and, if the academic career turns out to be successful, the eventual appointment to a professor position (equivalent to associate professor or full professor positions in US terms), after finishing the second book for the habilitation or, in some instances, upon equivalent academic achievement. Moreover, various international comparative accounts of the situation of doctoral training or of junior researchers comprised overviews on the German situation (e.g. Enders 1999; Hüfner 2004; see also Kehm 2012). Finally, some German scholars have summarized the state of doctoral training or junior academic careers across Europe or worldwide and pointed out the specifics of the German case in the framework of comparative studies – on higher education in general or on select issues (e.g. Enders 2003, 2006; Kehm 2004, 2009; Kehm and Teichler 2016).

2.2  G  erman Traditions and the Development of Doctoral Training in the Twentieth Century The idea of the traditional German university is the credo of a close link between teaching and research, as it has been formulated for the foundation of the University of Berlin in 1810 by Wilhelm von Humboldt. He advocated three principles for the university: “unity of research and teaching”, “solitude and freedom” and “community of teachers and students”. Each university in Germany, i.e. each recognized institution in charge of research and teaching (those with a prime emphasis on teaching are not named “university” 1

 See (last accessed 2016/07/29).


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in the German language even today), was entitled to award a doctoral degree, whereby all procedures were in the hand of the respective faculty. Titles awarded correspond to the name of the faculty or disciplinary group; the traditional titles in the Latin language were Dr. phil., Dr. rer. pol., Dr. rer. nat., Dr. med. and Dr. theol., whereas academics in the domain of engineering opted for a title in the German language: Dr.-Ing. The work on the doctoral thesis has continued to be viewed as the core activity. The doctoral candidate was considered to be an independent person gradually maturing into a scholar in the process of his or her work on the dissertation in contact with a single professor (or in some instances additionally a second advisor). Doctoral candidates had to find a professor – at the university of their prior study or somewhere else – willing to advise them, or a professor could encourage doctoral students or early stage researchers to embark on work for dissertation: informally, the advisor (Betreuer) was named Doktor-Vater (“doctor father”, a gender-neutral phrasing was not customary – not surprising – as more than 90% of university professors were men up to the 1990s). Until the 1970s, a student was free either to head for a university degree (Diplom, Magister or Staatsexamen) before working on the dissertation or to start working on the dissertation without any prior degree. The person willing to write a dissertation had to be accepted officially as a doctoral candidate by the doctoral committee of the respective faculty; this procedure could be initiated at the start of working on the dissertation or later. The doctoral committee could accept the candidate without reservation or with some requirements to be fulfilled prior to submitting the dissertation, e.g. to take some courses in the respective discipline, if the candidate had studied initially another discipline than that of the dissertation. The doctoral candidate was not viewed as a “student” and as a rule was not obliged to enrol. Further specifications were left to the advisor of the dissertation. Professors accepted doctoral candidates as a rule who wanted to write a dissertation in the area of their expertise. Some accepted a broad range of scientific areas, while others expected the doctoral candidates to be quite close to their expertise. The professors also might have expected their doctoral candidates to attend some of their lectures or seminars, and many of them regularly arranged a doctoral “colloquium” or “seminar” for all their doctoral candidates. Advisory practices varied. In the humanities and social sciences, occasional meetings between the advisor and the candidates prevailed – initiated by either. In the experimental sciences, doctoral candidates often were involved in the professor’s laboratory or other experimental research activities and had contact to him/her primarily in this context. In most disciplines, quite a number of doctoral candidates were employed by the university to serve as assistants or research workers. According to a survey undertaken in 1983/1984, 59% of the doctoral candidates in Germany were funded through employment in higher education (either on an institutional position or through research grants), 17% through employment outside academia, 14% through doctoral fellowships (grants and/or loans) and 10% by other means (Holtkamp et al. 1986). The doctoral dissertation was assessed by the advising professor and possibly by a second professor. The oral exam traditionally held subsequently was called

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­rigorosum: it could address both issues of the doctoral dissertation and key issues of the respective discipline (over the years, the defence of the dissertation became the core of the oral exam). A committee in charge of the individual dissertation – with between two and four academics appointed by the doctoral committee of the faculty  – was in charge both of the oral exam and the final approval and grading, whereby the latter was based predominantly on the assessment of the dissertation. The committee established, whether the candidate was successful or not, and traditionally selected among the following ratings: summa cum laude (excellent), magna cum laude (very good), cum laude (good) and rite (satisfactory/pass). This scale is retained today, though some universities prefer a German terminology rather than the traditional Latin one: Mit Auszeichnung (excellent), sehr gut (very good), gut (good), etc. Not being accepted after having submitted the dissertation seldom happened; rather, the Doktor-Väter advised an unknown proportion of doctoral candidates to give up working on dissertation at earlier stages. The doctoral candidate was awarded the doctor title only when the publication of the dissertation as a monograph was assured: either a publisher agreed to publish it as a book, or the doctoral candidate be provided a sufficient number of prints for all German university libraries. The doctoral committee was free to demand the candidate to make revisions of the dissertation prior to publication. The traditional German model of doctoral training rested on: • The assumption of high degree of freedom and responsibility of the learner • A strong influence of a single professor as fatherlike advisor and assessor of the success of the work on dissertation • A dominant role of the work on dissertation and of enhancing the competence to undertake scholarly work • A freedom of the professor to call eventually for additional arrangements of learning and research activities, if the knowledge basis of the doctoral candidate was viewed as lacking and if the professor wanted to involve the doctoral candidate in additional activities of organized learning and research • The assumption that the dissertation would be a high-quality research product which deserved to be published • Altogether, on a high degree of informality and on trust that high academic quality is the result of open communication between a responsible professor and a responsible junior academic in the making The doctoral dissertation was a necessary entry qualification for a further academic career at a university, but was not viewed in Germany as a sufficient qualification for the appointment to a professor position. Rather, a habilitation had to follow as a rule after further 5 of more years of academic activities – similar to a doctor scientiae, doctor d’etat or other advanced doctorates in some other European countries. Moreover, in the 1960s, when some European countries introduced a second type of higher education institutions with less of a research emphasis than universities, Germany was initially the only country requiring all senior teachers at these institutions (called Fachhochschulen in Germany and often translated to


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“Universities of Applied Sciences”) to hold a doctoral degree and 5 additional years of professional experience, including at least three outside positions in professional areas. According to the first comparative survey on the academic profession undertaken in 1992, the proportion of university professors holding a doctoral degree was greater than 90% in Germany (often only professors in fine arts were the exceptions) and in some other European countries with a strong Humboldtian tradition, in Israel and in the USA, but lower in the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and some other countries (Enders and Teichler 1995b). Doctoral training had spread quantitatively to a higher extent in Germany than in most other advanced countries. A 1% quota of doctoral awards in the respective age group was reached in Germany by the mid-1970s whereas not until 2000 in most OECD countries. The respective quota surpassed 1.5% in Germany in the mid-­ 1980s in contrast to about 2010 on average for OECD member countries. This implies that a doctoral degree was already viewed in Germany as a valuable indicator of competence in many professional areas, before the OECD called for changing the modes of doctoral training in the wake of increasing careers outside academia. One should bear in mind that there did not exist (and does not exist up to now) any professional doctorates in Germany along academic or research doctorates (as, e.g. in the USA). However, German medical faculties provided their doctoral candidates the opportunity of being awarded a doctoral degree based on substantial less work time and less advanced academic quality than other faculties. According to a survey of persons awarded a doctoral degree by German universities in the academic years 1980, 1985 and 1990 in six major disciplines, 44% of those employed were initially active at higher education institutions, while 37% worked in the private sector  – including R&D  – and 19% in the public sector  – including public research institutes (Enders and Bornmann 2001). Thus, doctoral degree holders’ initial employment outside higher education has prevailed in Germany for some time, and the proportion of those initially employed in higher education tended to decline over the course of the career. This survey also shows a considerable degree of professional mobility of doctoral degree holders between sectors of employment. Many of those employed in higher education after the award of the doctoral degree moved to other sectors – often involuntarily because they did not succeed in their selected academic sectors – but in some instances voluntarily, because other sectors offered possibly higher income and more stable employment conditions. Reverse mobility is not uncommon in Germany. According to the international comparative survey of the academic profession undertaken in 1992, more than half of the university professors and almost 90% of professors at Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences) had been employed outside higher education for some period of their career. Some professional experience outside academia is almost the rule for German university professors in the areas of engineering and fine arts and also is quite common in education (see Enders and Teichler 1994, 1995a).

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Table 2.1  Number of doctoral awards at German universities Total Percentage of women Percentage of foreigners

2000 25,780 34.3% 7.5%

2005 25,925 39.6% 13.7%

2010 25,629 44.1% 14.9%

2013 27,697 44.2% 15%

Source: Based on statistics provided by the Federal Statistical Office

2.3  T  he Quantitative Development of Doctoral Training in the Twenty-First Century There are no reliable statistics in Germany on the number of doctoral candidates, because the potential candidates are free to decide whether and possibly at what time they enrol and because there is no comprehensive data on the number of persons registered as doctoral candidates. In general, the international advanced level student statistics (ISCED 6 according to the 1997 ISCED scheme) are not reliable, because the definitions and criteria for registration vary substantially across countries. There are data, however, on the number of annual awards of doctoral degrees – i.e. the measure which is generally viewed by statistical experts as the most reliable one for international comparison of the advanced level of higher education or for candidates of research careers. The lack of data on doctoral candidates means there are no detailed data on success rates vs. drop-out rates in the process of working on a doctoral dissertation and the “time to degree”. On the basis of select statistics and of surveys, however, it is possible to estimate that: • The number of actual doctoral candidates in Germany (no matter whether formally approved or not) was about 200,000 around 2010. • The time span of work on dissertation was slightly more than 4 years. • The success rate actually could be estimated to be between 50% and 60%. The number of doctoral degree awards in Germany was about 20,000 in 1990 (in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the German Democratic Republic which actually merged during that year). It increased to about 26,000 in the year 2000. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, we observe small annual variations, but not any clear growth trend (see Table  2.1). According to recent statistics, about 28,000 doctoral degrees were awarded in 2013. According to the 2010 data, the highest rates of doctoral degree awards could be observed in Switzerland (3.6%), Slovakia (3.2%) and Germany (2.6%) as compared to the OECD average of 1.6% – with, for example, 1.6% in the USA (however, not including “professional doctorates”), 1.1% in Japan and only 0.5% in Poland (OECD 2012). The more or less steady state of doctoral awards in Germany since the beginning of the twenty-first century might be viewed as surprising, because overviews presented by OECD suggest that the ratio of doctoral awards among the respective age group increased in the 1990s and thereafter more substantially in economically


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advanced countries than the number of first-degree or possibly second-degree graduates from higher education institutions. One has to bear in mind that the ratio of new entrant students in Germany hardly increased from 1990 to about 2005, and the subsequent increase from about 35% to about 55% will affect the rates of doctoral awards only after 2015. The number of professors at German universities did not increase substantially during the first decade of the twenty-first century. As a consequence, the rate of annual doctoral awards per professor also hardly changed during that period. Actually, 1.2 doctoral degrees were awarded per university professor in 2010 (excluding medical fields). This ratio was slightly above average in mathematics and science (1.3), slightly below average in engineering (1.1) and social sciences (0.9) and clearly below average in humanities (0.5). However, the average number of junior academic staff per university professor increased from about 5.5 in 2000 to about 7 in 2010, thus reducing the chance of young doctors working at universities to be eventually appointed to a university professor position. On the one side, the rate of new entrant students in Germany has been among the lowest in economically advanced countries over several decades. On the other side, the rate of doctoral awards has been one of the highest in these countries, and the “quota” of doctoral awards (called either Promotionsquote or Promotions-Intensität) in Germany is exceptionally high. For the calculation the number of doctoral awards is used relative to the number of persons with a typical entry qualification for doctoral training some years earlier: it was about 19% – or 15%, if medical fields were excluded  – in 2000, 2010 and 2014 (see KBWM 2017; most of the data subsequently presented are reported in this publication). The Promotionsquote was calculated in Germany in the two national reports on junior scholars as the ratio of doctoral awards relative to university master-level degrees 5 years earlier. This is appropriate because, on the one hand, the traditional system was discontinued in the 1970s according to which university students were free to commence a doctoral degree without having taken any lower-level university degree. One the other hand, efforts to open up the opportunity for graduates from Fachhochschulen to commence a doctoral degree had not led to substantial quantitative change: of those being awarded a doctoral degree in 2010, only 2% reported that the Fachhochschule diploma had been their highest degree. Actually, graduates from these institutions could be accepted by universities as doctoral candidates since the early 1990s, whereby Fachhochschule professors could serve as co-­ advisors. Initiatives are underway in some German Länder to grant also Fachhochschulen the right to award doctoral degrees. The Promotionsquote often not only indicates a relatively high chance of university graduates eventually being awarded a doctoral degree, but is also seen as one stage of selectivity of academic careers in Germany. As already pointed out above, 19% of those persons with a master-level university degree are eventually awarded a doctoral degree. Table 2.2 shows that 7% of doctoral degree holders are finally awarded a habilitation and 33% of those with a habilitation in the end are appointed as university professors. One could argue, though, that the latter two indicators exaggerate the selectivity of academic careers, because it is possible to be appointed

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Table 2.2 Selectivity of academic career at German universities by disciplinary group (2008–2010)

Total Humanities Social sciences Mathematics and sciences Medicine Veterinary medicine Agriculture Engineering Fine arts

Doctoral Award quotaa 19 7 11 36 54 53 20 21 3

Habilitation Award quotab 7 13 5 5 11 3 4 3 8

University professor Appointment quotac 33 45 63 45 8 18 18 87 44

Source: Calculated on the basis of statistics provided by the Federal Statistical Office (KBWN 2013) a Number of doctoral awards (2008–2010) compared to university master-level degree 5 years earlier b Number of Habilitationen (2008–2010) compared to doctoral awards 5 years earlier c Number of new university professor appointments (2008–2010) compared to Habilitationen 3 years earlier

as university professor without a habilitation, of equivalent academic achievements have to be reached through other routes and that there is the option as well to be appointed as professor at a Fachhochschule. As in other countries, doctoral training plays a different role across disciplines in Germany. We observe a relatively constant pattern over time: while graduates from natural sciences, engineering and medical fields comprise slightly less than half of all first-degree and possibly second-degree graduates from universities, about three quarters of the doctoral degrees are awarded in these disciplinary areas. In 2010, • 31.6% of the doctoral degrees were awarded in mathematics and natural sciences. • 28.4% in medicine. • 10.0% in engineering. • 13.8% in social sciences. • 10.8% in humanities. • 5.4% in other fields. In comparing these figures with those of master-level degree awards some years earlier, we note that around 2010 the Promotionsquote ranged from more than half in medicine and chemistry to about 5% in economics and business studies and finally 3% in fine arts. Data are available on some socio-biographic features of the doctoral degree recipients: • The average age at the award of the doctoral degree was about 32 years in 1990 and about 33  years in 2010. These figures are relatively low in international


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c­ omparison (cf. the figures reported by academics in Höhle and Teichler 2016; see also Teichler et al. 2013). • The share of women awarded a doctoral degree by German universities increased from 34% in 2000 to 44% in 2010. The lower rate of women doctoral degree holders than university graduates at master level about a decade earlier reflects the fact that the Promotionsquote is higher on average in disciplines with a high share of male students. • Among those being awarded a doctoral degree in Germany in 1990, about 6% were foreigners. This proportion increased only slightly until 2000 and thereafter substantially to 14.9% in 2010. The latter figure is higher than that among graduates from other degree levels altogether (about 10%) and than that of foreigners among all academics employed at German institutions of higher education (about 10% as well). • In reverse, international statistics suggest that about 5–6% of German new doctoral degree recipients are awarded this title abroad. One of the most characteristic features of doctoral training in Germany is the extent to which it is embedded into academic work. There are various classifications employed of the learning and employment status of doctoral candidates or doctoral degree recipients as well as their modes of funding the doctoral phase, but the majority of those heading for a doctoral degree are employees at institutions of higher education – either funded through official positions of these institutions – whereby some proportion of their work time is officially reserved for work on dissertation or through external (mostly research) grants. • According to a not yet published source at that time named in the national report on junior scholars of 2013, 63% of doctoral candidates were employed by a higher education institution and 6% by a public research institute. Fourteen percent were employed otherwise, while 17% were not employed. Figures as regards public fellowships suggest that about half of the doctoral candidates, who were not employed, were recipients of public fellowships (KBWN 2013). • According to the Federal Statistical Office, 67% of those heading for a doctoral degree could be viewed as “internal” doctoral candidates, i.e. employed or otherwise funded at the university expected to award the doctoral degree, and 25% were employed either by a research institute or another employer. According to this source, only 8% were not employed, and these were the core of those participating on structured doctoral programmes (see also ibid.). • Another survey summarizes the major financial sources of doctoral candidates in Germany as follows: 15% on regular positions in the higher education institutions, 19% employed in higher education institutions with the help of external grants, 28% fellowships, 15% employed at other institutions and 23% funded by other sources – among others, auxiliary staff at institutions of higher education, private sources, etc. (Hauss and Kaulisch 2012) • According to another survey of 2010 university graduates in Germany, 91% of those heading for a doctoral degree were employed about 1.5 years after graduation. Of those employed, half-named institutions of higher education as their

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employer, one quarter were employed at public research institutes or in the R&D divisions of private companies and the remaining quarter at other institutions (Flöther 2015). The differences between these accounts are partly due to the fact that employment is short term in some instances and only part-time; therefore, change of employer and funding sources as well as multiple funding sources is widespread. For example, the international comparative survey of the academic profession conducted in 2007 reported that almost all junior academics employed at German universities, who were not yet awarded a doctoral degree, were employed on short-term contracts, and 45% of them were employed part-time (Jacob and Teichler 2011). Moreover, there is not always a clear distinction made in the respective surveys between employment and doctoral fellowships awarded through universities. A survey undertaken in 2010, which addressed the potentially varying sources of income during the period of doctoral training, named on average 1.6 sources: 31% employment in a regular position at a higher education institution or research institute; 27% employment at these institutions through an external grant; 20% employment at other institutions; 43% fellowships; 9% work as auxiliary staff; 8% income through occasional work; 11% support by parents, partner, etc.; 11% own means; 1% loans; and 4% other sources (Jaksztat et al. 2012). Finally, there are no quantitative overviews on the extent to which the award of doctoral degrees is concentrated on a select number of universities. Traditionally, the university system in Germany can be considered as not highly stratified: universities were viewed as hardly differing as far as academic quality is concerned; the career opportunities of university graduates hardly differed as well. All institutions called university were entitled to grant doctoral degrees. There is a long tradition, though, of perceived quality of individual disciplinary fields within a university which might have an impact on academic careers. In recent years, notably the international discourse on rankings and world-class universities is viewed as having led to a somewhat higher vertical diversification than in the past and to some increase in the concentration of doctoral awards but still moderate in comparative perspective. Data of individual universities suggest that the Promotionsquote might vary between universities from about 5% to about 25% (to a lower extent, though, if medicine is excluded).

2.4  C  ritique of German Traditions and the Emergence and Growth of Structured Doctoral Training Critique of the traditions of higher education and search for new solutions were widespread in the Federal Republic of Germany from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. But the discussions focussed on teaching and learning of the initial study programmes, the pattern of the higher education system as well as governance of higher education. During the course of the 1980s critique of doctoral training and


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the situation of junior scholars at German universities spread. Some in-depth analyses of the situation in Germany (e.g. Holtkamp et al. 1986; Bochow and Joas 1987) were relevant in this discourse, but the increasing international debate on quality of research, the attractiveness of the US model of doctoral training and the changing role of doctoral training in the course of higher education expansion seem to have had a stronger effect. A broad range of problems of doctoral training were named, e.g. a too-long-time span, too many dropouts, overspecialization, lack of intensive advice and guidance or lack of fostering of competences relevant for professional work outside academia (see Kehm 2012). Two features of this discourse deserve attention. First, even though reference was made to subsequent employment and work outside academia, the arguments centred on perceived problems of training of junior academics, and reforms often were called for in order to uphold the attractiveness and quality of the academic career (see Hüfner 2004). Second, the problems usually put forward in Germany had substantial overlaps to those voiced in countries with more structured doctoral training, such as the USA (see Nerad 2004; Nerad and Heggelund 2008). In Germany, criticism varied according to sub-groups of doctoral candidates. For example, a lack of communication between professors and doctoral candidates was often referred to for disciplines with relatively limited support through external research grants, e.g. humanities and social science. In contrast, a danger of overspecialization in the doctoral training programme was often highlighted in relation to science and engineering. Finally, concern was expressed that doctoral candidates in all fields employed as teaching and research assistants often had too high a workload as assistants and too little time for work on the dissertation (see Bochow and Joas 1987; Hüfner 2004). To increase the quality of doctoral education, proposals were made to create an extended system of doctoral fellowships in order to provide more opportunities to concentrate fully on the dissertation. This idea, however, soon lost momentum. Rather, more effort was made to build up structured doctoral training and, thereby, to support the establishment of doctoral programmes with funds both for programme expenditures and for fellowships to increase the attractiveness and the size of these programmes. The first national report on junior scholars published in 2008 shows that a multitude of public support schemes for structured doctoral training and for doctoral fellowships within and outside structured doctoral training had emerged since about 1990 and had grown over time (BMBF 2008). The thrust of doctoral programmes established varies substantially. Some focus on disciplinary or interdisciplinary specialization; others on additional academic competencies needed for work on thesis and an academic career, e.g. writing a dissertation, teaching, research management, etc.; and others on key skills relevant for professional work both in and outside academia. Some modes of structured doctoral training expect the candidates to spend about one third or even more of their time on courses and related self-study, while most of the programmes advocate spending less than one tenth or many even less than 5% of the time linked to courses. Most of the structured doctoral arrangements do not require all the doctoral candidates of the respective department to participate fully in the provided doctoral programmes,

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but rather consider a different role of the structured components of doctoral training as appropriate for doctoral candidates funded by doctoral fellowships, those employed as assistants or as members of research teams funded by external grants and those employed outside academia. A recent analysis concluded that the doctoral training process in Germany varies primarily according to the professional, institutional and financial situation of the doctoral candidates and only additionally according to the institutional and departmental policies as regards structuring of doctoral training. Accordingly, five groups of doctoral candidates are named (rather than types of provisions for doctoral training): (1) doctoral candidates on university positions which serve both to assist professors and provide room for work on dissertation, (2) those working in externally funded research projects, (3) doctoral candidates embedded into doctoral or postgraduate programmes, (4) doctoral candidates with an individual doctoral fellowship or with other means allowing them to dedicate their time to the dissertation and possibly to additional elements of doctoral training and (5) external doctoral candidates who are employed outside academia or for whom other activities, e.g. family, are more central than work on the dissertation (Schneijderberg 2017). Available surveys suggest that the majority of doctoral candidates nowadays participate in course arrangements during their phase of doctoral training beyond the traditional doctoral seminars of their “Doktor-Vater” or “Doktor-Mutter”. Some kind of doctoral training has spread so much that the above-named recent analysis perceives a “programme drift” in German doctoral training. Available information also shows that those funded by doctoral fellowships are more strongly embedded in structured components of doctoral training than those being employed inside or outside academia. However, doctoral degree recipients who participated in a highly structured doctoral training programme remained a minority – some estimates suggested about 10% around the year 2010. A general change of climate has occurred. Universities, departments and individual professors can no longer consider success or failure in the doctoral stage primarily as the responsibility of the doctoral candidates but rather the responsibility of the institution and the professors. This is observable in institutional evaluation and funding schemes. Moreover, many universities have introduced a contract system between the individual professors and doctoral candidates which specify the duties of the advising professors. It would be interesting to note how the socialization role of the professors has changed over time and how the overall competency development has changed in the doctoral training and learning phase. A recent study in this domain suggests that beyond the aim of training good future researchers, there are no common aims and expected outcomes widely shared among professors and doctoral candidates; rather, the varied modes of living, working, training and learning during the doctoral phase in Germany are linked to varied aims and expected outcomes (see Schneijderberg 2017). It should be added that the discourse and reform efforts in Germany as regards doctoral training reflect respective developments in other countries and there is a lively exchange of information on doctoral training, for example, stimulated by the


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OECD or the European Association of Universities (see the overviews in Teichler 2014; Kehm and Teichler 2016). However, the call in the so-called Bologna Process for a convergence of structural features of higher education had only an effect as regards bachelor and master programmes. In contrast, the call in the Bologna Process to understand doctoral education and training as the third cycle of higher education is neither supported in Germany nor in most other European countries with a strong tradition of individual doctoral training. Moreover, the communiqués of the subsequent ministerial conferences of the Bologna Process hardly touched upon doctoral training.

2.5  Subsequent Careers Doctoral training in Germany has retained its emphasis primarily on preparation for an academic career. This holds true even though in the early 1990s, when major reforms of began, it was recognized that more than half the doctoral degree recipients were likely to be employed outside academia and that the majority of those initially employed in academia would move out of academia at some point. Various surveys summarized in the 2013 report on junior scholars (KBWN 2013) suggest that most doctoral candidates in Germany have an academic career in mind initially, when they opt for doctoral training. During the course of doctoral training, they are influenced by the fact that the academic labour market is limited. According to an unpublished survey of doctoral degree recipients of the year 2009, 26% were in favour of a career in academia (understood here as a career in higher education or public research institutes); at the time of the award of the doctoral degree, 43% could imagine a career both inside and outside academia, and 31% had a preference for a career outside academia. These preferences turned out to be important for the actual start of a post-­doctoral career but yet were too optimistic as regards the actual whereabouts in academia. Of those clearly in favour of an academic career and actually employed about 1.5 years later, only 57% were employed by higher education institutions or research institutes. Among those initially motivated for employment both in and outside academia, 35% were employed in academia and 65% outside. Finally, among those preferring a career outside academia, only 4% actually got employment in academia (the results of the survey undertaken by INCHER-Kassel are reported in KWBN 2013). The most accurate data on the employment of doctoral degree holders during their early career stage are provided by the so-called microcensus. However, no distinction is made between those employed inside and outside academia. The 2009 microcensus data of the 35–45  years old in 2009 show a 95% employment rate among doctoral degree holders – higher than among those having been awarded a university degree as their highest level of educational attainment (89%) and than all of the respective age group (83%). Full-time employment applied for 89% of doctoral degree holders of this age group as compared to 73% both for university ­graduates and for all employed persons of this age group. The proportion of those

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Table 2.3  Professional sectors 1.5 years after the award of a doctorate by a German university by disciplinary group (percentage) (2009) Total Hum Soc Law Phys Bio Chem Eng Med Other Higher education institution 20 40 23 6 21 31 26 13 4 18 Public research institute 5 4 5 0 5 13 8 5 0 5 R&D in public/non-profit sector 8 11 6 1 9 22 8 8 2 10 R&D in private sector 9 0 1 0 17 8 25 31 1 7 Other functions in public sector 28 29 23 38 15 7 13 11 68 6 Other functions in private sector 30 16 42 55 33 19 20 31 25 34 Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 Source: KOAB graduate survey 2010 of the International Centre for Higher Education Research Kassel  – published in KBWN (2013) (Physics includes mathematics; others include veterinary medicine, agriculture, etc.)

active in occupations usually classified as professionals and managers was 87% among the doctoral degree holders as compared to 65% among those holding a university degree; the respective shares of those in leading positions were 45% and 35%. Finally, 39% of doctoral degree holders, 20% of university graduates and 6% of all persons employed in this age group had a net income within an income bracket more than twice as high as the median income of this age group (see ibid.). Obviously, doctoral degree recipients have a clear employment advantage over university degree holders without doctorates. Actually, a survey of those awarded a doctoral degree in 2010 shows their income was 28% higher than those awarded a master-level university degree (Flöther 2015). This could be interpreted as a small income advantage, because those without a doctoral degree might have progressed in their career to a higher position, while doctoral degree holders were working for their dissertation. But another survey showed that doctoral degree holders can in fact expect a higher income: according to this survey, those awarded a doctoral degree in 1997 earned 20% more in the 10 years following than graduates who were not doctoral degree holders (Fabian and Briedis 2009). Some surveys provide detailed information of the employment and work situation of those employed in academia after the award of a doctoral degree. In some instances, an explicit comparison is undertaken between the professional situation in academia and that outside academia. According to the above-named survey of 2009 doctoral degree recipients, 92% reported about 1.5 year afterwards that they were employed or active in initial professional training, while only 2% were unemployed. The remaining 6% reported family care, occasional employment, etc. The early employment situation of doctoral degree holders is shown in Table 2.3: • Twenty-five percent were active in academia (20% at higher education institutions and 5% at research institutes). • Seventeen percent in R&D (8% in the public and non-profit sector and 9% in the private sectors). • Fifty-eight percent were professionally active (employed or self-employed) in other areas.


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As one might expect, employment in academia or in R&D shortly after the award of a doctoral degree dominates in some disciplines but is uncommon in other disciplines: • More than half of doctoral degree recipients in the humanities and social sciences (excluding economic fields) gained employment in academia or in R&D sectors outside academia – most of them at higher education institutions. • In scientific fields, about two thirds of doctoral degree holders moved to academia and to R&D tasks. Of those active in R&D, about one third were in chemistry and about one quarter in other fields. • In engineering, only 18% went to academia compared with 39% going to R&D sectors. One has to bear in mind, though, that universities in Germany like to recruit professors with R&D experience in industry, and professional experience outside academia is an entry qualification for professorships at Fachhochschulen. • There are three disciplinary areas in which a doctoral degree as a rule leads to professional areas outside academia with no R&D functions. This held true for almost 90% of doctoral degree recipients in economic fields and for more than 90% in law and in medicine (ibid.). Various surveys have shown that most junior scholars in Germany generally rate their working conditions quite positively (e.g. challenging and interesting tasks, independent work, cooperation with others, etc.) but view their employment conditions critically (notably job insecurity and career selectivity). According to the international comparative surveys of the academic profession, only about one third of junior academics at German universities (including those without and with a doctoral degree) rated their overall professional situation conditions positively in 1992 – fewer than those in other economically advanced countries. By 2007, this proportion had increased substantially to 55% (Jacob and Teichler 2011) surprisingly, because job insecurity and career selectivity had increased even more in some respects. The 2007 survey shows additionally that the job satisfaction of junior scholars shortly after the award of the doctoral degree was higher than among those who had been employed at that level for some years (Jacob and Teichler 2011). Moreover, a higher proportion of those employed in public research institutes (77%) was satisfied with their overall professional situation than those employed at universities (Höhle et al. 2012). A comparison of further responses from 2009 doctoral degree recipients employed shortly afterwards in academia and outside academia shows disadvantages on the one hand as regards employment for those employed in academia: • Fifteen percent of those in academia were employed part-time as compared to 11% of those outside academia. • Eighty-seven percent were short-term employed as compared to 39%. • The income of doctoral degree holders, who were full-time employed in academia, was about one quarter lower than that of those full-time employed outside academia.

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On the other hand, the doctoral degree holders professionally active in academia consider their work situation favourably: • Eighty-eight percent of those in academia stated that they use their competencies on the job to a high extent as compared to 69% of those outside academia. • Fifty-seven percent noted a close link between their field of study and the work assignment as compared as compared to 48%. • Ninety-five percent observed an appropriate position to their level of educational attainment as compared to 86%. • Overall, 81% viewed their work situation as appropriate to their education and training as compared to 71%. In sum, 72% of the doctoral degree holders active in academia 1.5 years after the award of the doctoral degree stated that they are satisfied with their overall professional situation. This was stated slightly more often by them than by those employed outside academia, i.e. 69% (KWBN 2013). There is widespread concern in Germany that moderate remuneration, a high degree of job insecurity and limited chances of getting a senior academic position for doctoral graduates employed at universities might be a disincentive to opt for doctoral education and training and even for an academic career. The employment situation for young academics worsened in the 1990s and 2000s. With reduced public funding in favour of incentive-based public funding of higher education and the pressure to acquire external grants, the ratio of junior academic staff-university professor increased (from less than five around 1990 to seven in 2010), the proportion of part-time and short-term contracts increased, the average time span of short-term contracts became shorter and the chance to progress to a university professor position declined. Moreover, legal revisions made it easier for universities to offer short-­ term contracts paid by external grants and, in reverse, set maximum lengths of employment for junior academic positions paid through the university budget. In contrast, various changes were made in the legal system and the system of financial support for junior academic careers to improve the employment and work conditions – e.g. the establishment of junior professor positions (similar to assistant professor positions in many other countries) and the provision of some research support systems especially for junior academics at post-doctoral level. Also, the number of professor positions at other higher education institutions increased substantially (see ibid.).

2.6  Concluding Observations Germany is often named as the country which has had the strongest impact internationally on the notion of doctoral training focussed on the dissertation, being undertaken under the tutelage of a single professor, and aimed at leading to research competencies. Since about the 1990s, however, strong efforts have been made in Germany to establish various features of structured doctoral training. This has led to


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a system of doctoral training in which the majority of doctoral candidates participate in some components of structured training, and it is possible to discern a “programme drift” in German doctoral training, but only about 10% of those recently awarded a doctoral degrees have been immersed in doctoral training which can be characterized as a real doctoral programme. Those heading for a doctoral degree at German universities continue to be defined primarily as “doctoral candidates” as well as first-stage junior scholars – i.e. not as students  – and no tuition fees are charged for doctoral training. The most frequent financial arrangement during this period is being employed by a university – either on a university position expecting to serve assistant activities in teaching and research along work on dissertation or funded by external research grants. Others work at public research institutes or outside academia during this period. Some are awarded fellowships linked to doctoral programmes and other individual fellowships. Funding with the help of family and relatives as well as through their own means applies only to a minority of doctoral candidates. Consequently, the funding modes have a strong impact on the actual modes of doctoral training and learning. While entry rates to higher education have been relatively low in Germany in comparison with most economically advanced countries over many decades until recently, the rate of doctoral degree awards of the respective age groups has for a long time been one of the highest the world. This means that the “quota” (or “intensity”) of doctoral degree awards, i.e. the ratio of those awarded a doctoral degree among those entitled to embark on doctoral training, is very high. This also implies that the proportion of those awarded a doctoral degree who become employed outside academia has been high for many years and remains so. There are divergent views in Germany about the fact that academic careers after the award of the doctoral degree are characterized by high selectivity and job uncertainty. While some consider a high pool of talent and high competition up to a professorship as contributing to academic quality, others are concerned that the academic career stage between the doctorate and the professorship (equivalent to associate and full professor positions in US terms) might not be sufficiently attractive to keep the best talent in academia and to stimulate a high quality of academic work. Various policy measures have been taken in recent years to make academic employment and work at this career stage more attractive. While the concepts of doctoral training are predominantly shaped by the ideal of an academic career, employment of doctoral degree holders outside academia is well accepted in Germany. Doctoral degree holders employed outside academia have clear advantages as regards income and other employment criteria as compared to those having a university degree as highest level of educational attainments. Moreover, they have better employment conditions and are almost as satisfied with their work situation of those doctoral degree holders active in academia. In select disciplinary areas, notably in engineering, we note a permeability of professional and academic careers among doctoral degree holders. This might explain why there are no significant moves in Germany towards the establishment of professional doctorates along academic doctorates, as in various other countries.

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Although the view has spread among actors and experts that higher education becomes more international and more global, the interest in international comparison has grown, and the structured doctoral training has gained popularity; these changed views have not elicited an inclination in Germany to gradually assimilate to models of highly structured doctoral education. There are no moves in Germany to demote doctoral candidates and early career researchers to doctoral students, to let many doctoral candidates pay tuition even though they are expected to contribute to knowledge production or to make major educational elements mandatory for all doctoral candidates. Nevertheless, with the institutionalization of doctoral programmes, a second basic model of the doctorate was built up gradually in Germany (Schneijderberg 2017). This means that the basic idea of a doctorate being teaching-­based exists to some extent nowadays in parallel to the work-based doctorate in Germany. The introduction of the more structured doctoral programmes generates a certain drift for the work-based doctorate with credited, taught courses becoming obligatory in some universities (see ibid.). The mix that has emerged in Germany can be summarized as follows: • • • • •

Preservation of the tradition of the work-based doctorate Consideration of the dissertation as academic work Selective introduction of programme components (credited, taught courses) Employment of the majority of doctoral candidates A move towards the status of doctoral student for candidates who are fully immersed in doctoral programmes

In Germany, the doctoral phase continues to be viewed primarily as a first stage of academic training, whereby the element of learning is dominant at the beginning and reduces gradually over time in favour of productive academic work (see, e.g. also the concept of “formative years of scholars” in Teichler 2006). Using the terms of Sprague and Nyquist (1989), the development or socialization of doctoral candidates with student status, e.g. in doctoral programmes funded by scholarships, can be described as moving from being a senior learner to becoming a colleague in training and of doctoral candidates being employed from a colleague in training to a junior colleague. It is taken for granted that doctoral candidates – depending on the prime mode of funding and learning vs. employment status – have different roles in learning, living and work and that structured training components have to be adapted to divergent settings. It is also assumed that a prime emphasis of doctoral training in future academic work is not contradictory to the fact that the majority of doctoral degree holders will work outside academia and take highly qualified job roles without research-like functions. One cannot be surprised to find that different options for doctoral training are chosen by different countries in spite of the assumption of worldwide trends and certain strengths of other models abroad. The German scene has, however, been influenced by international discourses, for example, the growth of some elements of structured doctoral training as well as the expectation that the higher education institutions and the professor should design training in the doctoral phase. Another example is that the communication between senior and junior academics is in a more targeted and deliberate manner rather than trusting that less targeted modes will be successful.


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References Bell, D. (1974). The coming of post-industrial society. New York: Harper Colophon Books. Berning, E., & Falk, S. (2005). Das Promotionswesen im Umbruch (Changes of the doctorate). Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung, 27(1), 48–74. Blume, S., & Amsterdamska, O. (1987). Post-graduate education in the 1980s. Paris: OECD. BMBF – Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. (2008). Bundesbericht zur Förderung des wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchses (National report on the promotion of junior scholars). Bonn/Berlin: BMBF. Bochow, M., & Joas, H. (1987). Wissenschaft und Karriere – zum beruflichen Verbleib des akademischen Mittelbaus (Science and career – the professional whereabouts of the middle-level academics). Frankfurt a. M./New York: Campus. Drucker, P. F. (1969). The age of discontinuity: Guidelines to our changing society. New York: Harper & Row. Enders, J.  (1999). Doctoral training and further career: The case of Germany. In O.  Kivinen, S.  Ahola, & P.  Kaipainen (Eds.), Towards the European model of postgraduate training (pp. 17–50). Turku: University of Turku, Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE Research Report, 50). Enders, J. (2003). Research training and careers in transition: A European perspective on the many faces of the Ph.D. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(3), 419–430. Enders, J. (2006). The academic profession. In J. J. J. Forest & P. G. Altbach (Eds.), International handbook of higher education (pp. 1–22). Dordrecht: Springer. Enders, J., & Teichler, U. (1994). Doctoral staff in German higher education: Select findings from the German survey on the academic profession. Higher Education Policy, 7(1), 31–36. Enders, J., & Teichler, U. (1995a). Berufsbild der Lehrenden und Forschenden an Hochschulen (The character of the profession of those teaching and undertaking research at institutions of higher education). Bonn: Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. Enders, J., & Teichler, U. (1995b). Der Hochschullehrerberuf im internationalen Vergleich (The acacdemic profession in international comparison). Bonn: Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft, Forschung und Technologie. Enders, J. & Bornmann, L. (2001). Karriere mit Doktortitel? Ausbildung, Berufsverlauf und Berufserfolg von Promovierten. Frankfurt/Main: Campus Verlag. Fabian, G., & Briedis, K. (2009). Aufgestiegen und erfolgreich: Ergebnisse der dritten HIS Absolventenbefragung des Jahrgangs 1997 zehn Jahre nach dem Examen (Promoted and successful: Results of the third HIS graduate survey of the 1997 graduate cohort ten years after the award of the degree). Hannover: Hochschul-Informations-System. Flöther, C. (2015) At the Top? Die berufliche Situation promovierte Absolventinnen und Absolventen (At the top? The professional situation of doctoral degree recipients). In C. Flöther & G. Krücken (Eds.), Generation Hochschulabschluss: Vielfältige Perspektiven auf Studium und Berufeinstieg (The graduate generation: Varied perspective on study and transition to employment) (pp. 107–129). Münster: Waxmann. Gumport, P.  G. (1992). Graduate education: Comparative perspectives. In B.  R. Clark & G.  R. Neave (Eds.), The encyclopedia of higher education (pp. 1117–1127). Oxford: Pergamon. Hauss, K., & Kaulisch, M. (2012). Alte und neue Promotionswege (Old and new paths towards a doctorate). In N. Huber, A. Schelling, & S. Hornbostel (Eds.), Der Doktortitel zwischen Status und Qualifikation (The doctoral degree between status und competence) (ifQ Working Papers, No. 12) (pp. 173–186). Berlin: Institut für Forschungsinformation und Qualitätssicherung. Höhle, E. A., & Teichler, U. (2016). Career and self-understanding of academics in Germany in comparative perspective. In J. F. Galaz-Fontes, A. Arimoto, U. Teichler, & J. Brennan (Eds.), Biographies and careers throughout academic life (pp. 241–269). Cham: Springer.

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Höhle, E.  A., Jacob, A.  K., & Teichler, U. (2012). Das Paradies nebenan? Zur Situation von Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern an außeruniversitären Forschungseinrichtungen und Universitäten in Deutschland (Paradies nearby? On the situation of scholars at research institutes outside universities and at universities in Germany). Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung, 34(2), 8–29. Holtkamp, R., Fischer-Bluhm, K., & Huber, L. (1986). Junge Wissenschaftler in der Hochschule (Young academics at higher education institutions). Frankfurt a. M./New York: Campus. Hüfner, K. (2004). Germany. In J. Sadlak (Ed.), Doctoral qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and progress (pp. 51–61). Bucharest: UNESCO-CEPES. Jacob, A. K., & Teichler, U. (2011). Der Wandel des Hochschullehrerberufs im internationalen Vergleich (The changing academic profession in international comparison). Bonn/Berlin: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. Jaksztat, S, Preßler, N, & Briedis, K. (2012). Promotionen im Fokus: Promotions- und Arbeitsbedingungen Promovierender im Vergleich (Focus on doctorates: A comparison of the conditions for doctoral work and the working conditions of doctoral candidates) (Forum Hochschule) (Vol. 15). Hannover: Hochschul-Informations-System. KBWN  – Kommission Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs. (2013). Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs 2013 (2013 national report on junior scholars). Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann. KBWN  – Kommission Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs. (2017). Bundesbericht Wissenschaftlicher Nachwuchs 2017 (2017 national report on junior scholars). Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann. Kehm, B. M. (2004). Developing doctoral degrees and qualifications in Europe: Good practice and issues of concern – a comparative analysis. In J. Sadlak (Ed.), Doctoral qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and progress (pp. 279–298). Bucharest: UNESCO-CEPES. Kehm, B.  M. (2009). New forms of doctoral education and training in the European Higher Education Area. In B.  B. Kehm, J.  Huisman, & B.  Stensaker (Eds.), The European higher education area: Perspectives on the moving target (pp. 223–241). Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense. Kehm, B.  M. (2012). Die deutsche Doktorandenausbildung aus europäischer Perspektive (The German doctoral training in comparative perspective). In B.  M. Kehm, H.  Schomburg, & U.  Teichler (Eds.), Funktionswandel der Universitäten (Functional change of universities) (pp. 340–355). Frankfurt a. M./New York: Campus. Kehm, B. M., & Teichler, U. (2016). Doctoral education and the labor market: Policy questions and data needs. In L. Gokhberg, N. Shmatko, L. Auriol, et al. (Eds.), The science and technology labor force: The value of doctorate holders and development of professional careers (pp. 11–29). Cham: Springer. Nerad, M. (2004). The Ph.D. in the US: Criticisms, facts and remedies. Higher Education Policy, 17(2), 183–199. Nerad, M., & Heggelund, M. (Eds.). (2008). Toward a global Ph.D.? Forces and forms of doctoral education worldwide. Seattle: University of Washington Press. OECD. (2012). Education at a glance 2012: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD. Rhoades, G. (1991). Graduate education. In P. G. Altbach (Ed.), International higher education: An encyclopedia (pp. 127–146). New York/London: Garland. Schneijderberg, C. (2017). Promovieren in den Sozialwissenschaften. Eine sozialisaitonstheoretische Erschließung des Forschungsfeldes Promotion (Doing a PhD in social sciences. Using socialization theory to further develop the study of the doctorate). Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Sprague, J., & Nyquist, J. D. (1989). TA supervision. New Directions for Teaching and Learn-ing, 39(Autumn), 37–53. Stehr, N. (1994). Knowledge societies. London/Thousand Oaks/New Dehli: Sage. Teichler, U. (Ed.). (2006). The formative years of scholars. London: Portland.


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Teichler, U. (2014). Doctoral education and training: A view across countries and disciplines. In M. de Ibarrola & L.  W. Anderson (Eds.), The nurturing of new educational researchers: Dialogues and debates (pp. 1–25). Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense. Teichler, U., Arimoto, A., & Cummings, W. K. (2013). The changing academic profession: Major findings of a comparative survey. Dordrecht: Springer.

Chapter 3

Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments Lars Geschwind

3.1  Introduction Sweden is one of the most research-intensive and highly educated countries in the world. As of 2015, research investments reached 3.3% of total GDP, and the number of researchers per capita was among the top five countries globally. The number of doctoral students per capita of the population is the highest in the world (Vetenskapsrådet 2016). However, a doctoral education is not only an important part of the higher education system, leading to the highest degrees, it is also vital to research. Across disciplines, around one-third of all research in Sweden is produced by doctoral students. In some areas, such as engineering, around half of all research is undertaken by doctoral students (IVA 2012; Vetenskapsrådet 2016). Doctoral education has undergone profound transformations in the last century. As will be shown in this chapter, Sweden has followed international trends in many respects (Enders 2004; Kehm 2007). Teichler (2006:1–2) has identified the following five trends in European doctoral education: • A substantial growth in the number of both doctoral candidates and doctorate degrees is awarded. • A rise in those activities that systematize and institutionalize doctoral studies in the framework of graduate schools or other arrangements. • A continued trend towards specialization in research that affects the function of the dissertation in the overall research system. Doctoral candidates more often become specialists whose knowledge acquired in this process might be more highly appreciated as a unique area of expertise, but such knowledge may also be L. Geschwind (*) Department of Learning in Engineering Sciences, School of Industrial Engineering and Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



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too specialized to cover a substantial range of necessary competences in the next career stage. • Academic careers are becoming more risky in many countries and sectors. Between the ages of about 30 and 40 years, when those in other careers are settling, there tends to be a high degree of uncertainty and selectivity in academic careers. • International mobility of young researchers during their formative years is becoming a more common. In Sweden, as in many other national contexts, doctoral training has grown significantly, becoming more structured, more efficient and, arguably, more professionalized (Elmgren et al. 2014). In the following, an analysis of Swedish doctoral education is provided from a historical perspective. The chapter is primarily based on secondary data and available statistics, with the occasional addition of primary data from earlier studies on the subject.

3.2  Historical Development Doctoral training was first introduced in Sweden in the late nineteenth century (Odén 1991). At the graduation ceremony at Uppsala University in 1863, the master’s degree in use was replaced by a doctoral degree and from then onwards also at Lund University, the other Swedish university at the time. The degree became a requirement for teaching at the university. In order to obtain a doctoral degree, a licentiate degree from the faculty was required. In addition, the student should have authored, published and publicly defended a scientific thesis. Graduation was based on voting among all faculty members, and theses were graded according to a three-­ point scale. At the time, there were only two universities in Sweden, in Uppsala and Lund, but other higher education institutions were also established during the nineteenth century, including specialized medical and technical institutes that later became single-faculty, research-intensive universities, such as the Chalmers Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institute and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. However, these institutions only acquired the right to award doctoral degrees, in their respective fields, somewhat later than the universities did. For instance, KTH Royal Institute of Technology obtained the right to award doctoral degrees in 1927 and Karolinska Institute in 1906. The doctoral training model adopted in Sweden was, basically, the German one, building on the idea of the critical disputation and the introduction of the seminar form of education. For example, the Swedish doctor of engineering was based on the German model, in which the title Doktor-Ingenieur (Dr-Ing) was introduced in 1899. At that time, there was a perceived need to professionalize academic environments in general and the recruitment of academic staff in particular. Simultaneously, peer review was introduced as a means of addressing nepotism in academic recruitment processes (Frängsmyr 2010).

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Swedish doctoral training in its modern form was established in 1969, when the older doctorate was replaced by a new doctoral degree, including a more structured study path that comprised 4  years of full-time study. The new PhD replaced the older doctorate and licentiate degree. The aim was to make doctoral training more efficient, i.e. to reduce the time of study and improve the completion rates by coursework and strengthened supervision. The PhD was no longer to be a lifetime’s work but rather the work of an apprentice, as a starting point of a career. This model was inspired by the US graduate schools and represented a radical shift vis-à-vis the existing model. The reform was prepared and suggested by a national committee – U63 – comprising top scholars, politicians and policy makers. A primary rationale for the reform was the idea that a changing, more demanding, knowledge-based labour market needed more PhDs. This belief has later been reiterated in white papers and government bills; the expansion of higher education and the transition towards a knowledge society require deeper knowledge and higher skills (Haraldsson 2010). Notably, this has not only been on the agenda for social democratic governments. For instance, in the 1993 Government Bill, under a right-wing/liberal government, the idea was to double the number of PhDs within 10 years. Moreover, in the 1970s and 1980s, there were discussions about how to plan the number of graduates in each sector centrally. By estimating the labour market demands in each sector, a fixed number was decided upon for students. This central planning model was eventually replaced by new ideas about governance in the 1980s, based on goal steering. International comparisons provided another driver for more PhDs; rapid development in other comparable countries fuelled Swedish doctoral education policy. The argument was that Sweden would lag behind if there were not more PhDs being educated (Zetterblom 1994). One of the tensions in the system, from the 1969 reform onwards, has been the PhD as a significant contribution to research on the one hand and as education on the other. The clear message from the U63 committee was that the thesis should be less extensive and hence less time consuming. One of the means of implementation of this policy was by way of funding: only 160 pages of the dissertation were covered by the state grant, with any pages beyond that limit having to be paid locally by the universities. However, because PhDs also represent a large share of the total research undertaken at Swedish universities and because, in many fields, there is fierce competition for future academic posts, the discussions on lowering the requirements were met with scepticism and resistance, both from doctoral students and their senior colleagues. It was considered a threat to the quality of the thesis, and doctoral students feared that they would be disadvantaged in future peer reviews. Furthermore, equally linked to high expectations, two state committees on doctoral education in the 1980s not only stressed the quantitative contributions of the doctoral theses but also the necessary renewal and sustainable vitality of scientific fields. With regard to the content of doctoral education, the major balance to be struck is between specialization, as shown primarily in the doctoral thesis, and generalization, as shown in other activities, such as coursework. The 1969 reform introduced coursework as part of the PhD and in particular taught mandatory courses in the


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theory of science and in methodology. It was generally agreed that PhDs in Sweden should be able to work both within and outside academia, for instance, as ‘qualified analysts’. It was also stressed, by a state committee (chaired by professor Carl-­ Gustaf Andrén), that doctoral education as a whole, including completion of the doctoral thesis, is an excellent preparation for future extramural work in advanced jobs. However, over the years, PhDs’ preparation, or rather lack thereof, for the job market outside academia has been a recurrent theme. Some critical voices have argued that normal/regular PhD training makes the PhD too narrow and specialized and have proposed more ‘vocational’ or ‘professional’ programmes, with a broader scope (cf. Huisman and Naidoo 2006). There have been initiatives over the years, but, generally speaking, these have not gained a foothold in Sweden. One of the responses to labour market demands has been to keep the 2-year licentiate degree. Among the major changes presented in the 1969 reform was the abolition of the licentiate degree as a mandatory step towards the PhD exam after 2 years. In fact, the requirements of the old licentiate were very high, more or less equivalent to the intentions of the new PhD. The need for a nominal 2-year exam was discussed intensely, and the technical faculties and engineering companies in particular found the degree useful. In addition, it became the formal requirement for appointment as lektor in upper secondary school. The radical 1969 reform was not fully implemented. Arguably, it was too radical, implying a big difference from the old model. The reluctance to implement the reform was greatest in the social sciences and the humanities (SSH), for which the reform constituted a radical shift. Consequently, a new reform with similar aims was introduced in 1998. The overall aim was again to make doctoral education more efficient and effective, to reduce study times and to increase completion rates (especially in the SSH disciplines). One of the rationales was also the low degree of academic staff with a doctoral degree in Swedish higher education: only 56% of academic staff held PhDs (Högskoleverket 2007b). The reform was also accompanied by a greater focus on funding arrangements for doctoral students. According to the inquiry, all doctoral students should have funding secured for the entire period of study. In addition, no PhD students below an activity rate of 50% should be accepted. These reforms, intended to improve conditions for doctoral students, in practice had dramatic unintended consequences for some scientific areas. Hitherto, many disciplines (again most commonly in the SSH subjects) enrolled doctoral students and funded their studies in alternative ways and with a lower degree of activity. Despite the policy goal of increasing the number of doctoral students, the numbers actually decreased in some areas and did not recover until many years later. The 1998 reformers also proposed a number of other changes on top of those included in the 1969 reform package: • Individual study plans for every PhD student • A special director of study in each faculty that provides a doctoral education • Resource allocation tied to the number of each institution’s exams through a performance management system

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• A government directive (regleringsbrev) towards every university regarding doctoral education throughput • Supervisory education Most universities nowadays have supervisory education in place. These courses are typically mandatory for those who wish to become docents, which in turn is a requirement to be a main supervisor for doctoral students. It has thus become part and parcel of the mandatory pedagogical courses for academic staff (Elmgren et al. 2014). The demands on supervision have increased over time. Currently, it is regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance that all doctoral students should have at least two supervisors, one of whom should act as main supervisor (28§). The suggested introduction of a director of study for doctoral studies, similar to the role already established for education at lower levels, stressed the transformation of doctoral training from being primarily a supervisor–student relationship to being an education with a designated leader. It was another step towards a more structured education. However, this was considered as each university’s own affair, and the current leadership of doctoral education varies across institutions and academic environments. The 1998 reform was radical, and there were protests at the time of implementation, in particular, from the SSH disciplines. The introduction of the individual study plan, which is meant to be revised at least once every year, has created a contract-like relationship between supervisor and doctoral student, to be signed by both parties (Hasselberg 2005). The individual study plan comprises both a progress report related to the goals of doctoral education and a programme for the year ahead. It has been used as a legal instrument to withdraw the right to supervision for doctoral students not fulfilling the requirements (Haraldsson 2010). In 2004, a new state inquiry, ‘A New Doctoral Education’, put a greater focus on doctoral education as preparation for the labour market, including outside academia. The inquiry suggested a 3-year doctoral programme as a third-cycle level, in accordance with the European Bologna degree structure (3 + 2 + 3), as well as improved conditions at the postdoctoral level. Until this point, a bachelor’s degree had been the only formal requirement for admission, but the inquiry suggested the master’s degree be a mandatory step and the licentiate degree be abolished given that there was no equivalent in the rest of Europe (SOU 2004, p. 105). However, reducing the length of study turned out to be highly controversial, and the responses from the sector were negative. Parliament then decided to keep the 4-year doctoral degree as well as the licentiate degree. The inquiry argued that reducing the study time at the PhD level would release funding for the postdoc level. One of the main issues being discussed at the time was the so-called postdoc cloud, comprising a patchwork of various posts for early career PhDs but no clear career path. As mentioned above, the number of PhDs doubled during the 1990s, which put pressure on the next level on the academic career ladder. Very few postdoc positions and a limited number of other junior positions were available. As a consequence, more postdoc positions have been


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e­ stablished across the system since then, including in areas where they had not been commonplace before. In 2016, another state inquiry (SOU 2016) on early career academics presented its suggestions and recommendations. One of the main tasks was to recommend improvements regarding doctoral education and the early postdoctoral career stage, in particular the level of (tenure track) assistant professor. Unlike many other countries, there are no fees for doctoral students in Sweden, and students can be supported financially in several ways. Doctoral grants (utbildningsbidrag) were introduced in 1976, replacing the state stipends. The doctoral grant is not a wage or salary, and universities do not pay the social insurance contributions that guarantee the right to sick pay or parental leave. However, recipients of study grants do pay income tax. Employment as a doctoral student (doktorandtjänst) was introduced in 1986. There are also stipends, with no rights to social security or pension, and study loans. The 1998 reform implied a higher demand for doctoral student funding upon admittance, and loan-funded doctoral studies were abolished in practice; 800–900 doctoral students were financed by study loans before the reform. A doctoral student with a doctoral grant obtained the right to be employed for the last 2 years of study. The number of appointed doctoral students has increased year on year and is currently the dominant funding form (65% of all doctoral students in 2014). The inquiry recommended the abolition of the use of doctoral grants and most of the stipends, with the exception of candidates from developing countries. It is now expected, more than ever, that doctoral students be employed.

3.3  Descriptive Statistics 3.3.1  D  octoral Training and Swedish Higher Education Institutions There are 44 higher education institutions in Sweden with the right to award academic degrees. Of these, 29 have the right to award degrees at all three educational levels. However, despite the apparent sectoral unity, there is a concentration of doctoral education in the system. For some time, Lund University has been the dominant provider in Sweden, and as of 2014, two-thirds of all third-cycle students were studying at one of six universities: • • • • • •

Lund University Karolinska Institute KTH Royal Institute of Technology Uppsala University University of Gothenburg Stockholm University

3  Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments


In addition to the universities, 14 university colleges have obtained the right to award third-cycle degrees in one or more specialized areas or themes slightly broader than disciplines. The degree-awarding power has been decided by the Higher Education Authority (formerly the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education), using an assessment process based on peer review. The right of university colleges to award degrees should be seen in light of the fact that, since 2005, no university colleges have been ‘promoted’ to full university status. Up to 2005, a number of institutions had gradually built their research capacity and eventually applied for the right to attain university status, which implied not only the right to award degrees but also increased direct state funds for research and research training. However, as a consequence of a shift in Swedish higher education policy in the early 2000s, this possibility disappeared. After many years of expansion and focus on widening participation and regionalization, Swedish policy experienced an ‘elitist turn’, with more emphasis on excellence, world-class status and top quality across the board. This also meant that the older, research-intensive universities received greater priority and university colleges were encouraged to merge with an already established university rather than to establish their own research and research training. The current government has shifted focus again and has strongly supported the new universities rather than the old ones, even promoting one university college (Malmö högskola) to university status.

3.3.2  Long-Term Statistical Trends The long-term trends include but are not limited to: • An increase in the number of doctoral students until 2005. • An increased share of women among doctoral students, from 16% in 1962 to approximately 50% since 2005. • Sharp increase in the number of exams between 1990 and 2008. • Reduced study time and increased throughput since the end of the 1990s. • Reduced admissions in the humanities since 1998, due to changed funding policy. • Two out of five newly admitted doctoral students today are international (every second man and every third woman). From the early 1960s until 2005, the number of doctoral students increased dramatically, with the most dramatic increase up to 1985. However, the increase flattened in 2005, and the last decade has also included occasional dips in enrolment (Fig. 3.1). As shown in Fig. 3.2, the proportion of women has grown continuously and has almost quadrupled since 1971, whereas the number of men has only increased by 18% in 40  years. Currently (2014), there are 19,000 active doctoral students, of whom 9000 are women (47%). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, doctoral education became a strategic issue on the research and higher education policy agenda.


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Fig. 3.1  Number of active doctoral students (1962–2014). (Source: SOU 2016)

Fig. 3.2  Share of females among doctoral students. (Source: SOU 2016)

Governments, regardless of political colour, have identified an increased number of PhDs as an important goal in order to be internationally competitive as a nation. For instance, in the 1993 Research Bill, the government sets the target of doubling the number of PhDs during the 1990s.

3  Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments


Fig. 3.3  Number of PhDs awarded for the period 1973–2014. (Source: SOU 2016)

Fig. 3.4  Number of doctoral and licentiate exams (2004–2014). (Source: UKÄ 2016)

As mentioned in the historical overview, funding doctoral students has been high on the political agenda since the 1960s. The effects of the reform of 1998 are seen in the reduced number of other funding formats. Doctoral grants have decreased significantly, as has the category of doctoral students with other employment in higher education institutions. In addition, students funded by scholarships have decreased slightly over time. Figure 3.3 shows the increase in the number of PhDs awarded over time. The increase could be explained by more funding available but also by increased efficiency and effectiveness. The study time has decreased significantly, in particular within SSH subjects. The median study time for doctoral students used to be around


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Fig. 3.5  Level of activity among doctoral students. (Source: UKÄ 2016)

7 years, but in medicine, for example, theses are completed in 4 years. The net study time to completion has now decreased to around 4.5 years for the humanities, while it is still 4.0 years in medicine. Figure 3.4 shows the distribution of degrees across scientific fields. It is notable that medicine and health are the largest scientific fields in terms of degrees and that the use of the licentiate degree is significantly higher in technology and sciences than in the other fields. The age of graduates has been discussed in Sweden over the years. Some critical voices in the debate have argued that graduates are too old. This has been particularly the case at basic and advanced levels but also at the third-cycle level. The median age for PhDs has only changed marginally over the years. Since the 1980s, it has varied between 36 and 34 years and was 34 years in 2014. Again, there are differences across disciplines, from 32 years in science and technology to 40 years in the humanities. As a consequence of the 1998 reform, most doctoral students are highly active, as Fig.  3.5 shows. Despite the reform’s laudable aim of providing more secure and better conditions for doctoral students, the number of part-timers has been reduced. Before the reform, many professionals were registered as doctoral students but at a lower activity degree. This was often part of their personal competence development. In 2008, one-third of all doctoral students were international (IVA 2012). This number was expected to decrease gradually with the introduction of fees for international students in 2011, but as Fig. 3.6 shows, slightly over 40% of all new doctoral students in 2014 were international (UKÄ 2016).

3  Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments


Fig. 3.6  New doctoral students in 2014, by gender, nationality and discipline. (Source: UKÄ 2016)

3.4  The Structure of Doctoral Training As already mentioned, doctoral education in Sweden has developed, as in many countries, from being based on a master–apprentice relationship to a more structured education. This has been an important policy idea since the 1969 reform. The Higher Education Ordinance (Högskoleförordning 1993:100) provides the legal foundation. Doctoral education today comprises 240 credits, equivalent to 4 years of full-time study. The licentiate degree is a ‘half doctor’ degree, comprising 120 credits, most commonly used in the scientific area of engineering/technology. Coursework is expected to be a mandatory part of the education, but its extent can vary locally, even within the same university, although it is generally between 30 and 90 credits. Usually, there is a combination of taught mandatory courses (theory of science, research methods, research ethics, etc.) and eligible courses. The overall aim is to both broaden and deepen knowledge. Increasingly, universities also provide skill-related courses in, for example, academic writing, project management and entrepreneurship. Since the 1980s, various types of doctoral schools have been introduced. Among the pioneers, Linköping University has launched thematic doctoral schools, including admission of groups of students, has invited commentators along the way (e.g. 50% seminars) and has offered courses that are more structured. Linköping has also granted students more employment t than have other universities (Högskoleverket 2006). In the 1993 Government Research Bill, a pilot project for research schools was launched. These research schools were expected to cater to the needs of both universities and industry in relation to PhDs. The Ministry of Education allocated funds in the first year 1993/1994, when the National Research Board


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(Forskningsrådsnämnden) took over responsibility for the scheme, which lasted until 1997. In 2001, the Swedish government set aside funds that facilitated the foundation of 16 national research schools. Each PhD student was affiliated to a host institution, and a number of partner institutions were involved (Högskoleverket 2004). Doctoral schools have also been established by external funding bodies, particularly those who operate in close relation to industry. Two of the major private foundations  – the Foundation for Strategic Research and the Knowledge Foundation  – launched doctoral schools with the specific aim of co-producing knowledge with external partners (Degerblad and Hägglund 2000). For other funding bodies, initiatives have been motivated by increased focus on a specific area, such as geographical areas like Asia or the Baltic countries, or in didactics in collaboration with schools (Geschwind and Melin 2015). Another aim associated with doctoral schools has been to focus scarce resources and increase the quality of education. This was the rationale, for instance, behind three multidisciplinary doctoral schools at the Faculty of the Humanities at Stockholm University. Rather than admit single students in each subject, thematic schools allowed the admittance of a whole cohort, which in turn created opportunities for more courses and larger seminar groups. A similar aim was expressed when KTH Royal Institute of Technology decided that all doctoral education across the institution should be provided in multidisciplinary doctoral programmes led by programme directors (Geschwind and Söderlind 2015). Professional doctorates have not been implemented on a broad basis in the Swedish system, but a pilot initiative that could be mentioned is the Professional Licentiate of Engineering (PLEng) (2014–2017), which is a 2-year, specialized research qualification with a strong technical basis, adapted to industrial needs and based on the existing licentiate of engineering (Lic Eng) degree. The programme caters primarily to industrial participants and aims at training them for key leadership positions in research and innovation. The initiative is a collaboration between three higher education institutions, externally funded by a foundation. In recent decades a large number of doctoral schools or more structured doctoral programmes, comprising more than one subject, have been launched. These initiatives have been promoted and implemented by the government, funding bodies and universities. Quality assurance of doctoral training is the responsibility of each university, and increasingly, quality systems and procedures have been introduced. Formally, the faculty boards were designated with the task of quality assurance in the 1998 reform. At the national level, the Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) is responsible for reviewing doctoral programmes. As of 2016, a new round of evaluations of third-­ cycle education will be undertaken. PhD experiences are also regularly followed up and evaluated at the institutional level, most commonly by using web-based surveys. National surveys of doctoral students were undertaken in 2003 (Högskoleverket 2003) and 2008 (Högskoleverket 2008). Both surveys showed that most doctoral students (80%) were satisfied with their education. However, there was also room for improvement regarding, for example, supervision, ethics training and the introduction to doctoral studies.

3  Doctoral Training in Sweden: History, Trends and Developments


3.5  Career Paths for PhDs As shown above, the number of exams has been steady over the last decade, after a dramatic increase in the first years of the new millennium. Most PhDs are established in the job market after a few years and are unemployed to a lesser degree than graduates at the bachelor’s or master’s levels (Högskoleverket 2007a, b, 2010). Currently, the academic labour market is a realistic prospect for new PhDs, mainly because of wide-scale retirements in most academic disciplines. However, across all fields, a majority of PhDs leave academia upon graduation, although the number varies significantly across disciplines. In the humanities and social sciences, more PhDs tend to remain in academia and from the outset pursue their PhD with an academic career in mind. By contrast, in medicine and technology, there are better career opportunities outside academia. As outliers, around 20–30% of PhDs from the social sciences leave academia, whereas the equivalent number for medicine exceeds 70%. The remaining areas are somewhere in between (IVA 2012). After the PhD, there are fixed-term jobs available, regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance. These positions are far fewer than the number of PhDs. Postdoctoral positions in their current form have been in place since 2008, when an agreement was reached between the labour market parties. According to the agreement, a postdoc can be appointed for a maximum of 2 years, with a possible extension if there are special reasons. The number of postdoc positions has grown significantly since 2008 and has become a natural part of the academic career in many areas. Some universities strongly encourage a postdoc term as part of the career. In addition, since August 15, 2012, ‘position of merit’ has been regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance. A candidate can be appointed for a maximum of 4 years in order to develop autonomy and gain the necessary merits for a permanent position. Increased mobility, both within the higher education sector and across sectors, has been suggested by policy makers and stakeholders. There are no requirements or policies in place forcing PhDs to move after completing their degree. Nationally, there is a low level of academic mobility. This also holds true for cross-sector mobility. The preparation of doctoral students for a career outside academia has been an issue for many years, and increasingly, at university level, courses and training are provided for that purpose (e.g. in entrepreneurship and project management) (Melin and Janson 2006).

3.6  Conclusion Since the introduction of research training in the second part of the nineteenth century, profound changes have taken place. The doctoral education model adapted in Sweden was based on the German tradition as developed during the nineteenth century, but it gradually shifted towards the US model of graduate education. Over the


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years, the number of PhDs has increased, and the growth in doctoral education has been an issue. The debate has revolved around whether there is a risk of ‘overeducation’, particularly in certain fields, or whether the knowledge society requires ever more PhDs in the labour market. At times, such as in the first years of the new millennium, the number of PhDs outnumbered the positions available in academia, which spurred debates about the postdoctoral career in academia and the preparation of PhD students for work outside academia. One of the key reforms was introduced in 1969, proposing a transition from the traditional master–apprentice model of doctoral education to a more structured education comprising coursework, better working conditions and reduced length of study. Over the years, it has been challenging to reduce the length of and the requirements for the doctoral thesis. The ideas of the 1969 reform were implemented only to a limited degree, and the reformers met with resistance, especially in SSH. In many disciplines, theses continued to be considered a lifetime’s work rather than anything else. Because of this resistance, another similar reform was launched in 1998. The aim was to increase the number of PhDs, make education more efficient and reduce the length of study. In addition, the financial conditions changed; it was decided that all doctoral students should have their funding secured for the whole period and that the activity level should be 50% of full-time work or more. In many ways, Sweden has followed international trends regarding doctoral education. More focus on process than product has been a driver for change, stressing the fact that doctoral education is about education and training rather than research. The introduction of coursework that is more structured and with the aim of broadening the competence levels (knowledge and skills) of doctoral students is an important part, as is the increased emphasis on the training of supervisors. However, doctoral students’ research represents a large proportion of the total research in the country, and given an increasingly competitive and performance-based research and higher education landscape, the output is still very important. These hybrid aspects of doctoral education (Elmgren et al. 2014) still affect the policies and practices of Swedish academia, as students complete an ever-more structured and formalized education and as junior researchers endeavour to challenge and expand existing knowledge.

References Degerblad, J.-E., & Hägglund, S. (2000). SSF:s forskarskolor. En utvärdering av Stiftelsen för Strategisk Forsknings satsning på forskarskolor. Stockholm: Högskoleverket and SSF. Elmgren, M., Forsberg, E., Lindberg-Sand, Å., & Sonesson, A. (2014). Ledning för kvalitet i forskarutbildningen. Stockholm: Sveriges universitets-& högskoleförbund (SUHF) Expertgruppen för kvalitetsfrågor. Enders, J. (2004). Research training and careers in transition: A European perspective on the many faces of the Ph.D. Studies in Continuing Education, 26(3), 419–429. Frängsmyr, C. (2010). Uppsala universitet 1852–1916. Del 1. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

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Geschwind, L., & Melin, G. (2015). Stronger disciplinary identities in multidisciplinary research schools. Studies of Continuing Education, 38(1), 16–28. Geschwind, L., & Söderlind, J. (2015). Uppföljning av doktorsprogrammen vid KTH. Stockholm: Kungl. Tekniska högskolan. Haraldsson, J. (2010). “Det ska ju vara lite äventyr”-styrning av svensk forskarutbildning utifrån reformen 1998. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet. Hasselberg, Y. (2005). Gåvan och kontraktet. Vad pengar faktiskt gör med forskarutbildningen. Glänta vol 1–2. Högskoleförordning. (1993:100). Svensk författningssamling 1993:100. Available at: hogskoleforordning-1993100_sfs-1993-100 Högskoleverket. (2003). Doktorandspegeln 2003. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2003:28 R. Högskoleverket. (2004). Uppföljning av 16 nationella forskarskolor  – samverkan, rekrytering, handledning och kurser. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2004:18 R. Högskoleverket. (2006). Utvärdering av tematiska magister- och forskarutbildningar vid Linköpings universitet. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2006:43 R. Högskoleverket. (2007a). Forskarutbildades etablering på arbetsmarknaden. Examinerade 2000 Arbetsmarknad 2003, 2005. Examinerade 2002 Arbetsmarknad 2005. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2007:56 R. Högskoleverket. (2007b). Forskarutbildningsreformen 1998 – genomströmning och examination. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2007:35 R. Högskoleverket. (2008). Doktorandspegeln 2008. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2008:23 R. Högskoleverket. (2010). Doktorsexaminerades etablering på arbetsmarknaden. Högskoleverkets rapportserie 2010:21 R. Huisman, J., & Naidoo, R. (2006). The professional doctorate: From Anglo-Saxon to European challenges. Higher Education Management and Policy, 18(2), 1–13. IVA. (2012). Dimensionering av svensk forskarutbildning. Ett delstudie om doktorandernas roll i forskningssystemet inom IVAs projekt Agenda för forskning. Kehm, B. (2007). Quo Vadis doctoral education? New European approaches in the context of global changes. European Journal of Education, 42(3), 307–319. Melin, G., & Janson, K. (2006). What skills and knowledge should a PhD have? Changing preconditions for PhD-education and postdoc work. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars, Wenner-Gren international series (Vol. 83, pp. 105–118). London: Portland Press. Odén, B. (1991). Forskarutbildningens förändringar 1890–1975 (Vol. 69). Lund: Lund University Press. SOU. (2004). En ny doktorsutbildning – kraftsamling för excellens och tillväxt. Statens offentliga utredningar 2004:27. Stockholm: Fritzes. SOU. (2016). Trygghet och attraktivitet–en forskarkarriär för framtiden. Betänkande av Forskarkarriärutredningen. Statens offentliga utredningar 2016:29. Stockholm: Wolters Kluwer Sverige AB. Teichler, U. (2006). Per aspera ad astra? The formative years of scholars. In U.  Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars, Wenner-Gren international series (Vol. 83). London: Portland Press. UKÄ. (2016). Universitet och högskolor Årsrapport 2015. Universitetskanslersämbetet Rapport 2015:8. Stockholm. Vetenskapsrådet. (2016). Forskningsbarometern 2016. En överblick av det svenska forskningssystemet i internationell jämförelse. Stockholm: Vetenskapsrådet. Zetterblom, G. (1994). Forskarutbildningen under 70-och 80-talet: reformer och resultat. Stockholm: Carlssons.

Chapter 4

Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake of the Knowledge Society? Lukas Baschung

4.1  Introduction Switzerland’s higher education and research (HER) system regularly demonstrates that it is among the highest performing systems worldwide. According to the Times Higher Education World Rankings (edition 2015–2016), 7 out of the 12 traditional universities1 are ranked among the top 150 universities, 3 further universities figure among the top 500 and only the 2 smallest and newest ones are not part of it. Since the late 1990s, the traditional university system has been diversified by the creation of 9 universities of applied sciences (UAS) and 17 universities of teacher education (UTE) (out of which some are integrated in a UAS) (Perellon 2003). These three types of universities train graduates that are generally well integrated in the national labour market. Finally, an international comparison also demonstrates that the Swiss HER system is particularly strong in terms of knowledge transfer to the domestic and international economy, resulting in a positive impact on the national economy (de Rassenfosse and Williams 2015). The present chapter examines the role of doctoral education in this success story. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Swiss doctoral education has undergone incremental reform, both quantitatively and qualitatively, which has contributed to the HER system’s performance. This chapter begins by characterising those

1  In order to distinguish the three types of universities, we hereafter call the two federal institutes of technology as well as the ten cantonal universities “traditional universities”, although some of them actually are quite young. However, they all incarnate the traditional university sector to the extent that they share the same basic missions (teaching and basic research) and admission criteria (baccalaureate from a gymnasium, called “Maturität”/“Maturité”).

L. Baschung (*) Haute école de gestion Arc; HES-SO, University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, Neuchâtel, Switzerland e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



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recent changes and their link to the universities’ performance. Then the most current policies on doctoral training, at institutional and national level, are presented and discussed. The development of new forms of doctorates, more clearly oriented towards professions and practice, occurs within this debate, especially for the sake of the further development of the UAS. Doctoral students may be key players in the universities’ achievement, but not all of them can continue with a career in academia once they have graduated. This chapter also examines therefore how the Swiss labour market reacts to their arrival after graduation and discusses to what extent their competencies correspond to the needs of the knowledge society at large. The tension between cooperation and competition is definitely present within the Swiss higher education landscape (Baschung et al. 2009). This chapter analyses this tension in the context of Swiss doctoral training. Given the general competitiveness of Swiss universities on one hand and the importance of doctoral training for this competitiveness on the other, the line between the end of cooperation and the beginning of competition is also observed. Finally, the chapter examines the extent to which cooperation and competition may provoke convergence or divergence in doctoral training. Blanchard (2014) has shown in the case of French business schools that competition in higher education may lead to imitation. Therefore, it seems interesting to examine this hypothesis with regard to the context of doctoral training within four contrasting scientific fields on one hand and the distinction between traditional universities and UAS on the other. Simultaneously, the potential effects of cooperation on convergence or divergence are also investigated.

4.2  Swiss Doctoral Education’s Development 4.2.1  Reshaping the Structure of Universities Today, only the 12 traditional universities have the right to award doctorates in Switzerland. This restriction does not negatively impact the doctorate’s popularity. Since the end of the 1990s, the number of enrolled doctoral students has doubled from 12,338 to 24,394 (from 1997 to 2015). This evolution has had a major impact on the traditional universities’ structure, which becomes clearer if it is compared to the evolution of the number of professors (about +55% from 1997 to 2014) and other students at bachelor and master levels as well as in continuing education (about +50% from 1997 to 2015).2 In other words, the evolution of the doctoral student body is not a simple consequence of the HER system’s growth as a whole, since it is clearly more important. Figure 4.1 shows that this development is strongly related to the influx of foreign doctoral students. In fact, three out of four doctoral students came from abroad during this period. Without the foreign doctoral students, the total number would have been more or less proportionate to the system’s growth. In 2011, the number of foreign doctoral students was, for the first time,  Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2016); own calculations.


4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


Fig. 4.1  Number of doctoral students in Swiss universities. (Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office 2016)

higher than that of the Swiss doctoral students. Besides the absolute increase in the total number of doctoral students, this evolution is also an indicator of the further internationalisation of Swiss higher education and particularly the 12 traditional universities where these doctoral students are formally enrolled. Finally, the period from 1997 to 2015 is also a period of feminisation period, since the share of women steadily grew from 33% to 46%.3 During the same period, the number of doctoral degrees increased by 36%, from 2832 to 3854.4 This may be partly explained by the time gap between the enrolment of a doctoral student and his or her graduation. Yet, one can also question whether other factors, such as the availability of resources for supervision, are the cause. Nevertheless, the overall increase in terms of doctoral students and awarded doctorates represents a strengthening of the universities’ research capacity, which partly explains the strong position of most Swiss universities in international rankings. Figure 4.2 shows that natural and exact sciences, technical sciences as well as human and social sciences have strongly contributed to the increase in the number of degrees, whereas law and economic sciences have remained stable. In other words, universities’ research capacity increased primarily in the former scientific disciplines.

4.2.2  E  stablishing Doctoral Schools and Tailor-Made Reform Elements As in most other European countries, Swiss doctoral education has been traditionally shaped by the “apprenticeship model”. Doctoral students have been typically recruited and trained by one professor, and  – according to the scientific  Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2016).  Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2016).

3 4


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Fig. 4.2  Number of doctoral degrees awarded by Swiss universities per discipline. (Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office 2016)

discipline – developed their doctoral thesis either as part of a broader research project (mostly in natural sciences) or on their own (mostly in human and social sciences). According to estimates based on data from 2006, about two thirds of all doctoral students have had a paid academic position, typically an assistantship. In other words, about one third of doctoral students are considered “external” doctoral students (Young et  al. 2009). All doctoral students generally pay fees for their administrative enrolment, the level of which can be considered symbolic. Since the late 1990s, several reports highlighted the insufficient rate of supervision by their official supervisor and their level of work overload (Lévy et al. 1997; Maurer and Zeltner 1997). With other experts, such as the Swiss Science Council, they recommended the establishment of doctoral schools. The Swiss federal government then encouraged the creation of some but without any systematic approach. Simultaneously, the traditional universities took the initiative and created various kinds of doctoral schools (Baschung 2013). A systematic analysis of the universities’ – and their faculties’ – regulations for doctoral education, carried out in 2008, shows that issues such as admission requirements, duration, supervision and final examination only converge at a very general level (Baschung 2008). Within this general common denominator, considerable variation can be observed. For instance, some institutions are rather restrictive when it comes to the duration of doctoral education, whereas others make recommendations rather than defining strict rules. This diversity is a result of the federal ­organisation of the Swiss State, which strongly shapes the HER system as a whole (Perellon 2001). This diversity also applies to doctoral schools. Inspired by American “graduate schools” and German “graduiertenkollegs”, Swiss “doctoral schools” or “doctoral programmes” brought several reform elements into Swiss doctoral education. However, Swiss doctoral schools follow no unique, standardised model. It has been revealed that the emphasis on reform elements depends on disciplinary and institu-

4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


tional cultures, size, needs and possibilities. This finding results from a comparative study of four doctoral schools, carried out by the chapter’s author.5 Each case study covers one of four types of scientific fields, i.e. hard pure (biology), hard applied (material sciences), soft pure (humanities) and soft applied (finance), as well as different types of universities in terms of profile and size. Altogether, 54 semi-­structured interviews with a wide range of university actors involved in doctoral training at different levels (vice-/rectors, vice-/deans, professors, doctoral students and administrators at central and doctoral school level) provided the empirical data of these four case studies. These 4 case studies cover 7 of the 12 traditional universities. Based on these case studies, six reform elements have been identified. A first reform element consists in important efforts – both in terms of time and financial resources – regarding the recruitment process of the potentially “best” doctoral students. Such elements are visible in biology, material sciences and finance, which means in domains indicating a large increase of recruited doctoral students or difficulties to find enough candidates. Concretely, instead of announcing individual doctoral positions, a certain number of open positions are advertised together, under the name of a doctoral school. Two to three application deadlines are announced per year. Applications are then analysed by a recruiting committee, composed of several professors, who are part of the doctoral school. A limited number of chosen candidates are invited for interviews, sometimes in situ. In some cases, doctoral schools pay travel expenditures and hotel costs, for candidates coming from Europe, Asia or other places. Such recruitment procedures may last up to 3 days and include presentations of the doctoral candidates’ Master degree thesis, laboratory visits and discussions about potential PhD topics. Since a pool of candidates applies for a pool of doctoral positions, ideal compatibilities between doctoral students and supervisors, both regarding human relationship and in terms scientific interests, can be found. Indeed, some professors and doctoral students stated that they found a “match” which they did not imagine at the beginning of the recruitment procedure. In addition, these collective forms of recruitment increase the visibility of doctoral schools and their universities at the international level. A curricular component constitutes a common reform element in all case studies. If traditional doctoral training was often restricted to “learning by doing”, self-study and imitation of colleagues, a course offer is suggested to or, according to regulations, even imposed on doctoral students. Provided courses concentrate either on a mono- or interdisciplinary scientific field. Some have been especially created for the doctoral level and are particularly demanding. In addition, the so-called transferable skills courses have also been offered. Yet they mostly focus on academic work (e.g. academic writing). The overall volume of the curricular components varies according to the discipline. Coursework in finance typically takes at least 1 year full time – similar to American graduate schools  – and has to be done before beginning the doctoral research. Courses in other disciplines are not offered on a regular basis but are distributed over several years, in parallel with the doctoral research work. 5  Further comparison with four Norwegian case studies has confirmed these tendencies (Baschung 2016).


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Compared to the previous situation, participation in such courses increasingly structures the doctoral experience and also gives a stronger meaning to the term “doctoral student”. Multiple supervision as a formalised reform element was noticed only in the biology case study, but it also exists, on a more informal basis, in the material sciences case study. In the present case, doctoral students are advised and supervised by a thesis committee composed of three members. Besides their main supervisor, an external member coming from another university and another internal or external member examine the doctoral students’ progress at least once a year. During these meetings, problems that have occurred and further work are discussed. A fourth reform element – enlarged scientific exchange – was observed in all case studies. In addition to supervision, doctoral students discuss their work with other doctoral students as well as local and invited scholars in seminars, conferences and retreats, which are specifically organised for them. This institutionalised exchange guarantees that they get feedback on their ongoing research. “Tracking” is a practice that was only observed in the material sciences and humanities’ case studies. The initial definition of the doctoral research project and regular reporting about its progress through doctoral students and/or supervisors is due to institutional policies in the material sciences case study and requirements of the National Science Foundation in the humanities case study. This formalisation is designed to make clear the responsibilities of those involved. If a supervisor notices that a doctoral student is not progressing as planned, for example, the reasons are discussed and where necessary changes are made. Simultaneously, the needs for improvement in terms of supervision may also be identified at this opportunity. In any case, this kind of tracking should prevent doctoral research projects heading in the “wrong” direction. In a worst case scenario, the doctoral project can even be terminated. Finally, at the time of the study,6 one doctoral school’s activities also included active promotion of its graduates’ integration on the academic job market. The doctoral school in finance has sent its students to important scientific conferences where they present their “job market paper”. Another type of specific career promotion consists in transferable skill courses, which have been offered by the biology doctoral school. In other words, even if there are some initiatives for the integration of doctoral degree holders in the job market, doctoral schools are not obligated to place their graduates on the nonacademic job market, although not all of them can stay within academia.

4.2.3  Degree of Cooperation and Competition As shown in Table 4.1, three out of four case studies are organised in an interinstitutional structure. This gives the impression that Swiss doctoral training is largely characterised by cooperation. Indeed, those case studies are no exception in the  Fieldwork of the underlying study has been carried out between 2006 and 2009.


4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


Table 4.1  Involved universities and reform issues per case study

Involved Institutions

PhD Programme Biomolecular Structure and Mechanism Uni Zurich ETH Zurich

PhD programme in Materials Science and Engineering EPF Lausanne

Pro* Doc Aesthetics of Intermediality

Swiss Finance Institute PhD Programme

Uni Basel Uni Berne

Uni Geneva Uni Lausanne EPF Lausanne Uni Zurich ETH Zurich Uni Svizzera Italiana

Recruitment Curricular Component Multiple supervision Enlarged scientific exchange Tracking Career

landscape of Swiss doctoral schools. A large number of doctoral schools, especially in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, are the result of interinstitutional cooperation. Lang (2002) considers that universities must have good reasons to cooperate with other universities because cooperation generally corresponds to a loss of autonomy. He thinks that they cooperate “in order to do things that they cannot do individually, usually because of a lack of wherewithal” (Lang 2002: 154). Besides the resource dependence argument, Lang mentions three other reasons that may lead universities to cooperate. First, universities cooperate in order to gain a competitive advantage in the educational market. Second, cooperation is a means of institutional survival, and this works best if cooperating institutions are compatible. Finally, a third factor that may explain cooperation is (common) history, culture, language and geography. These four reasons play a role in the cooperative structure of the doctoral schools examined. The resource argument of “critical mass” was often mentioned by interviewees. According to the degree of disciplinary or thematic specialisation of the doctoral school, too few doctoral students from only one university may be eligible for it. The resulting choices have often been based on this kind of reflection. The gain of competitive advantage, especially at the international level, has also been put forward in the biology and finance case studies. The following quote of the first director of the PhD programme “Biomolecular Structure and Mechanism”, a professor from the University of Zurich, illustrates this: Instead of tripping us up, we really work together because we notice that we simply are stronger if we collaborate (…). Finally, we want to do good research and have good students. My competitors are not the ETH [Zurich] people. My competitors are in Boston at MIT, in San Francisco at UCSF. We are in competition with them for the best students. If I can improve my offer by collaborating with local people, what is there not to like?

Regarding the institutional survival and compatibility argument, the finance case study revealed that cooperation partners have been chosen according to certain informal criteria. For instance, they had to have a minimal number of finance pro-


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fessors, who were carrying out research of a certain type and quality. Indeed, other Swiss universities also doing research in finance are not part of the “Swiss Finance Institute PhD programme”. Finally, geography certainly plays a role in the biology case study, whereas language seems to be an explanatory factor in the numerous joint doctoral schools of the universities of French-speaking Switzerland. Sharing reform elements between several universities also may mean convergence in terms of doctoral training. For instance, there seems to be a strong convergence towards the idea of a curricular component and enlarged scientific exchange, whereas convergence seems to be weaker regarding other reform issues, like multiple supervision and career promotion. How convergent is doctoral training really with regard to the curricular component? A closer look at the most structured doctoral school – the one in finance – shows that the courses suggested in the three centres are not the same, and in two centres it is still possible to do a “free” doctorate, as an “external” doctoral student without a paid academic position and according to the apprenticeship model. In other words, even in relation to the curricular component, convergence is not total. Existing convergence first and foremost is limited to some reform ideas. In addition, it still leaves leeway for different types of concrete realisation. Table 4.1 indicates what kind of reform elements the examined doctoral schools implemented and the degree of interinstitutional collaboration among them (in three cases). The Table also indicates where the cooperation stops and where competition possibly starts. Indeed, one interviewee involved in the creation of the only examined mono-institutional doctoral school  – the one in material science of EPF Lausanne – stated that pace and the competitive character of some reform issues had an impact on the decision to create a doctoral school on its own. It was quicker to create a doctoral school alone than with another university, especially if the latter could have been from a different cultural – in the present case, “Germanic” – context. Among the interinstitutional doctoral schools, curricular components and enlarged scientific exchange constitute a reform element which is present in each of them. Collaboration with regard to course offers certainly reflects considerations about critical mass and higher quality. Collaboration concerning enlarged scientific exchange also expresses openness and confidence towards partner universities. Interestingly this confidence is also visible in the biology case study with regard to recruitment procedures, since the latter are organised and implemented by recruitment committees composed of professors from both universities. In the finance study, promotion is also made in the name of the doctoral school – for all six universities (organised in three centres) together – but candidates have to indicate a preference for one of the three centres on the application form. A review of applications is done by each centre. In other words, cooperation in terms of recruitment seems to stop at this point. Competition certainly is a driving factor for reform of doctoral training. First and foremost it is international competition that seems to push Swiss universities to such reforms. Again, reform elements are variably applied. Therefore, it cannot be said that (international) competition led to total convergence in doctoral training but did lead to some divergence in terms of practices, since some disciplinary groups in certain universities have retained their old practices.

4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


4.3  A  Stronger Orientation Towards the Knowledge Society’s Needs? The debate on new forms of doctoral training, more strongly oriented towards the needs of the knowledge society, received new impetus at the beginning of the 2000s. Although Enders (2002) wanted to see proof that reforms in doctoral training broaden and strengthen the employability of doctorate holders on the German labour market, other colleagues, especially from Oceania (e.g. Boud and Tennant 2006), were more enthusiastic about new forms of doctorates and their potential success within the knowledge society. However, they did not argue for a replacement of the traditional PhD but for a complementary approach and more diversity. According to Neumann (2002) diversity in doctoral education is the key driver of creative innovation. A suggestion attracting attention concerns practice-oriented doctoral education. Boud and Tennant (2006) report on professional doctorates that are specifically designed for particular groups like education, nursing, business and law. Yet, they still think that additional professionally oriented doctorates have to be created for “new knowledge workers”, who are active in (often transdisciplinary) areas that are not covered by specialised doctorates. Similarly, Usher (2002) reports about Australian doctoral programmes “by project”, i.e. based on work-related practical problems instead of questions coming from scientific disciplines. Unsurprisingly, such new forms of doctorates meet with opposition, especially within academia. Usher (2002) underlines that the power of disciplinary communities may inhibit the institutionalisation of diversity in doctoral education. Besides this “tribe” aspect, doubts about academic quality may of course occur. However, Lockhart and Stablein (2002) argue that a Doctorate of Business and Administration (DBA) can make a contribution to both theory and practice. They emphasise that, although the analysed problems come from practice, they are analysed in a scientific way, which means with academic rigour. The previous sections showed that the debate on new forms of doctorates is basically concerned with two issues: first, the adaptation of existing doctoral training and second, the creation of completely new doctorates, whether in terms of new scientific fields or, typically, their orientation towards more practical issues. The next section illustrates to what extent Swiss doctoral training has been affected by these two issues.

4.4  The Recent Evolution of Existing Doctoral Training Since the analysis of the case studies presented in Sects. 4.2.2 and 4.2.3, the preparation of doctoral students for a career has become a broad issue. A desktop research7 carried out for all traditional universities of the Swiss HER system indicates that  July 2016.



L. Baschung

almost all of them offer their doctoral students the so-called transferable skill courses or courses that are entitled “preparation for the nonacademic job market”. Among the former we find courses on communication, project management, scientific English or treatment of scientific information although they are mostly oriented towards academic work. The latter type of course often aims to help doctoral students gain awareness of the competencies they acquire through doctoral training and how they can “sell” them on the nonacademic job market. Indeed, they often seem to be unaware of their competencies and even less at how to explain what kind of added value they might offer potential employers in comparison to Master’s degree holders (Inderwildi 2015). Currently, many Swiss politicians first and foremost refer to higher education in the context of “innovation”, especially in the sense of knowledge transfer from science to economy. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that the “Switzerland Innovation Park” was officially inaugurated in 2016. Inspired by Silicon Valley, this political initiative has resulted in the creation of several new parks and the new labelling of an existing one, all located near higher education institutions. Simultaneously, Swiss media have also contributed to the dissemination of the “innovation virus” by increasingly reporting about the “start-up scene”. Therefore, the mentioned desktop research also set out to examine to what extent doctoral training includes courses about knowledge transfer and “entrepreneurship”. Currently, few universities offer such courses, and even fewer offer them specifically for their doctoral students. Most universities outsource such courses or other support activities to third parties, such as the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) – the Swiss Government’s innovation promotion agency – or the technology transfer offices. Although they are independent, they have often been created by several universities as a common platform. While knowledge transfer certainly is a hot topic within Swiss higher education, it is however not a standard component in doctoral training.

4.5  The Development of New Forms of Doctorates As mentioned previously, until now, only traditional universities have the right to grant doctoral degrees. This monopoly causes some obstacles for the further development of universities of applied sciences (UAS). Among their missions, UAS also have to do applied research and development. At the same time, they can only grant bachelor and master degrees and are not able to train their own research staff at the doctoral level. When they have been able to recruit staff with a doctoral degree in fields which also exist in traditional universities – like engineering, economics or social work – they have had difficulties in finding appropriately trained staff in other disciplines like nursing, design and music. As a consequence, they have either recruited foreign staff from countries  – North America or the Netherlands  – or undertaken their applied research with less qualified staff or simply in a very minimal form.

4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


Given this situation it is not surprising that representatives of UAS have started to ask for the right to grant doctoral degrees themselves. For instance, “FH Schweiz”, the umbrella organisation of UAS graduates, wants to create its own doctoral training programmes, oriented towards practice (FH Schweiz 2013). Simultaneously, this might also be interpreted as the expression of increasingly self-confident institutions which have developed very quickly since their foundation less than 20 years ago and have acquired a central position within the Swiss higher education landscape. Unsurprisingly, the traditional universities are not enthused about this kind of suggestion. They insist on their right to grant doctoral degrees (Basler  Zeitung 2014). However, they signal openness to the creation of new PhD programmes, jointly offered by traditional universities and UAS, although only under the condition that the degree would still be granted exclusively by the traditional universities. The federal government followed this compromise and announced in its quadrennial programme “Education, Research and Innovation 2017–2020” that it would fund doctoral programmes that are jointly offered by traditional universities and UAS and specifically dedicated to the practice-oriented profile of UAS (Confédération Suisse 2016). During this political discussion, Swiss higher education institutions have not remained inactive. Three kinds of initiatives have emerged. First, traditional universities created institutes that offer master and doctoral programmes in fields covered by UAS and thereby filled a gap in terms of training provisions in Switzerland. This applies to the Universities of Lausanne and Basel who created such programmes in nursing. Second, some traditional universities anticipated the compromise solution and created, together with UAS, specific doctoral programmes with a practical component. For instance, the University and UAS of Berne created their “Graduate School of the Arts” that offers doctoral training for fields like music, theatre, dance and design. Finally, several UAS established collaborations with foreign universities, especially from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and the UK.  Despite the fact that there might remain some logistical challenges, those UAS can – thanks to such kind of agreements – nevertheless offer possibilities for further qualification to their current or future scientific staff.

4.6  Doctors on the Swiss Labour Market Given the disproportional increase in the number of doctoral students and the limited capacity of the academic labour market to absorb them, it seems legitimate to examine whether this evolution corresponds to the needs of the knowledge society. In recent years, this has been controversially discussed in the Swiss media (e.g. Tagesanzeiger 2012). A former member of the federal parliament defended the value of vocational education and simultaneously attacked higher education, particularly human and social sciences. He highlighted the number of unemployed doctorate holders, referring to them as “Dr. Arbeitslos” (meaning “Doctor


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Table 4.2  Unemployment rates of master and doctoral graduates Number of years after graduation 1 5

Year of graduation 2012 2010

Master graduates (%) 3.9 2.5

Doctoral graduates (%) 4.2 3.0

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2016)

Unemployed”) and accused universities of training people whose qualifications do not correspond with the needs of the labour market. Three studies examined the underlying issues. Two of them (Engelage and Schubert 2009; Engelage and Hadjar 2008) looked at doctorate holders’ unemployment rates, income, and subjective perception of the adequacy of their job to a PhD and compared them to holders of a diploma, which today would be considered the equivalent of a master degree. These studies, which considered diploma and doctoral graduates who graduated between 1983 and 2001, concluded that they were in a more comfortable situation 1  year after graduation than diploma holders. Unemployment and job inadequacy represent marginal problems. A few years later, a study of the Swiss Science and Innovation Council (Conseil suisse de la science et de l’innovation – CSSI) arrived at similar conclusions regarding the unemployment rate. Though, towards the end of the considered period of time, which means from 2010 to 2012, the unemployment rate of freshly graduated doctoral holders was slightly higher than the one of master degree holders for the first time. In addition, a number of statistically nonrepresentative but nevertheless interesting interviews with human resources staff of various public and private institutions and enterprises showed that the doctorate’s value is assessed differently according to how “academic” the given sector’s culture is (CSSI 2015). The newly indicated tendency according to which doctoral graduates have a slightly higher unemployment rate than master graduates of the traditional universities is confirmed by the most recent numbers (Table 4.2). More precise numbers per disciplinary field indicate that this trend is transdisciplinary (except for law), be it for 1or 5 years after graduation. Given the margin of error of this statistical data – which is extracted from national graduate surveys – this tendency is yet to be confirmed over the long term. However, it is interesting to observe that the unemployment rate of doctoral graduates is rising, although still at a lower level than the unemployment rate of the Swiss population (4.5% in 2015). Besides the controversial discussion about unemployment, adequacy between acquired competencies and job requirements is also a crucial question for a knowledge society. A comparison between master degree and doctorate holders leads to an interesting finding: according to the year of observation (between 2002 and 2010), between 65.5% and 77.2% of doctoral graduates considered, 1or 5  years after graduation, that the requirements of their current job correspond to a high degree to the competencies they acquired through doctoral education. This same percentage is, according to the year, between 6.4% and 12.5%, lower for master graduates. Compared to a master degree, a PhD seems to increase the likelihood of being able to use acquired competencies after graduation.

4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


Last but not least, the value of a doctorate can also be measured by the salaries graduates are paid 1 or 5 years after graduation. Indeed, median salaries of doctoral holders are about 15% higher than those of master degree holders, 1 year after graduation (data collected in 2012). With about 11% difference 5 years after graduation, this gap seems to diminish over time (data collected in 2015). The studies cited must take into account the fact that the Swiss knowledge society is quite an abstract concept. Given its strong economic ties to Europe and beyond, it cannot really be analysed in an isolated way. The mobility of doctoral students is high, especially of those coming from abroad. Among the Swiss graduates of 2014 who remained in academia, 18.7% worked abroad in 2015. 12.3% of their foreign colleagues went back to work in their home country, and 26.7% worked in another country in 2015. Mobility is less among those graduates who worked outside academia. 5.7% of Swiss graduates worked outside of Switzerland, 18.3% of foreign graduates returned to their home country and 11.9% found a job in different country. In view of this relatively high mobility and especially the high percentage of foreign doctoral students, it is difficult to really assess whether the number and type of trained doctoral graduates correspond to the needs of the Swiss economy and society.8

4.7  T  he Next Challenge: Diversifying Doctoral Training While Maintaining the Overall Quality International competition and influence pushed Swiss universities to imitate elements of foreign doctoral training, especially in the field of highly “internationalised” disciplines. Often inspired by American higher education, Swiss universities created doctoral schools or programmes, sometimes even calling them “Graduate Schools”, without doing exactly what American Graduate Schools do. For instance, Swiss doctoral schools are generally limited to the doctoral level and do not include the Master’s level. They give doctoral students a stronger “student” character by offering a curricular component and by requiring them to report on their progress. Fees for being enrolled as a doctoral student are symbolic. In most cases, Swiss doctoral schools have been designed as a complementary offer to the traditional apprenticeship model. Thus, the latter has not been abolished but complemented. At the same time, most doctoral schools are not the administrative and social “centre” of doctoral students. Doctoral students are enrolled as doctoral students in a certain faculty and still identify primarily as a teaching and/or research assistant of a disciplinary institute or laboratory, rather than as a member of a graduate school. The convergence towards international standards is relative, even more so because observed reform elements have not spread systematically within Swiss higher education. In Switzerland higher education is a political field for which responsibility is shared among the federal and the cantonal levels. Therefore, it is not surprising that 8  All numbers originate from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (; partly own calculations.


L. Baschung

the federal government only intervenes in doctoral training through incentives and in a nonsystematic manner. Leeway is left to more tailor-­made solutions of individual universities and their institutional and disciplinary cultures. Interinstitutional cooperation in doctoral training makes sure that new practices are similar or even identical within some scientific disciplines of several universities. But again, such convergence is limited to the extent that not all Swiss universities are participating in only one doctoral school of a given discipline and only some reform issues, particularly curricular components and increased scientific exchange, are really the result of cooperation. Other more competitive issues like recruitment are regulated at a more individual level. In other words, since cooperation is not holistic, convergence is not either. It can even be said that the first reform wave which occurred during the first decennium of the 2000s diversified Swiss doctoral training, according to the culture, strategy, possibilities and needs of scientific disciplines and universities. It is difficult to measure today to what extent these reform issues and the underlying rationalisation process of doctoral training are responsible for the relative success of Swiss higher education. However, the quantitative evolution of doctoral education certainly increased Swiss universities’ research capacity. Although the number of doctoral degrees awarded does not proportionally match the significant increase in doctoral students, it seems plausible to argue that such “rational” changes, illustrated by new recruiting procedures, partially imposed coursework and increased tracking of doctoral students, have a positive impact on universities’ competitive advantage, at least if translated into international rankings. Simultaneously, this disproportional evolution of doctoral students and graduates and the variable implementation of reform issues indicate that qualitative improvements, especially regarding supervision and scientific advice, are not yet implemented systematically within Swiss doctoral training. In other words, there still seems to be some room for improvement and, thereby, for even more successful higher education institutions. This being said, the next reform wave might be more radical. If traditional universities have adapted or sometimes simply complemented existing practices in doctoral training, Universities of Applied Sciences and their needs in terms of professionally and academically qualified scholars require the creation of completely new doctorates with an applied, i.e. practice-oriented, approach. The federal government tries again to provide incentives to traditional universities to cooperate with UAS to create this new kind of doctorate, since traditional universities want to keep their monopoly regarding the awarding of doctoral degrees. This type of cooperation will probably be even more challenging than cooperation among traditional universities. A crucial question will be what kind of advantage the latter see in their “support” for UAS. Will they consider their role only as a “gatekeeper”, or will they also see synergies in terms of common development of new knowledge that has the potential to provoke economic and social innovation? One thing is clear. UAS need practice-oriented doctorates. First of all, such doctorates are necessary for fields without any tradition of doctoral training, like certain scientific disciplines in health and arts. Otherwise, the quality of research in these

4  Cooperation and Competition in Swiss Doctoral Training: For the Sake…


fields is not guaranteed, or UAS still remain dependent on more advanced foreign higher education systems. Second, UAS need practice-oriented doctorates to reinforce their applied profile within the landscape of Swiss higher education. One challenge to cooperation between traditional universities and UAS will be to create this kind of doctorate by bringing in the academic rigour without imitating the traditional university PhD model with regard to its basic research orientation. Otherwise, the added value of such UAS doctorates would be weak. The objective will be cooperation without too much convergence. With regard to the “Swiss” knowledge society and its capacity to absorb doctorate holders, doctoral training seems to be at a crucial juncture. For the first time since the statistical observation of Swiss doctoral graduates on the labour market, the most recent data indicate that their unemployment rates are slightly higher than those of master graduates. Does this mean that the number of doctoral students and graduates should be stabilised at the current level or even reduced? Not necessarily. First, the unemployment rate is still lower than that of the whole population. Second, doctoral degree holders still find jobs that correspond better to their competencies than do master graduates, which is an indicator that such highly qualified people are needed on the labour market. And third, the increase of doctoral students is almost entirely due to the strong increase of foreign students, who are even more mobile than Swiss doctoral holders and can apply their competencies abroad. Doctoral degree holders often fail to realise and explain appropriately their added value for the nonacademic labour market. If this can be improved, the Swiss knowledge society can benefit even more from foreign doctoral degree holders who graduated from Swiss universities, especially in the nonacademic labour market. In this way, this “investment” would doubly pay off, in terms of academic output and a highly qualified workforce for the domestic labour market. Hope seems to be justified to the extent that Swiss universities understand that they have to make an effort to integrate their doctoral graduates into the labour market. They offer an increasing number of transferable skills courses and specific preparation for the nonacademic labour market. Simultaneously, most of them seem blind to seeing doctoral students as the key actors for knowledge transfer through start-ups. Courses on entrepreneurship are definitely not a standard component of doctoral training. Defenders of academic freedom may argue that such an understanding of knowledge transfer is not part of the traditional universities’ core missions, but this argument definitely would not apply to UAS. Practice-oriented doctorates would not only reinforce UAS in terms of profile and research capacity but also deliver a complementary type of highly qualified workforce for the knowledge society.

References Baschung, L. (2008). Inventaire des standards minimaux relatifs au doctorat. Rapport final à l’intention de la Conférence des Recteurs des Universités Suisses, CRUS, OSPS. Baschung, L. (2013). Doctoral education’s reform in Switzerland and Norway: A public management analysis. Bern: Peter Lang.


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Baschung, L. (2016). Identifying, characterising and assessing new practices in doctoral education. European Journal of Education, 51(4), 522–534. Baschung, L., Benninghoff, M., Goastellec, G., & Perellon, J. (2009). Switzerland: Between cooperation and competition. In C. Paradeise, E. Reale, I. Bleiklie, & E. Ferlie (Eds.), University governance. Western European comparative perspectives (pp. 153–175). Dordrecht: Springer. Basler Zeitung. (2014). Hoch geschult und trotzdem nicht Dr. X. 02 July 2014. Blanchard, M. (2014). Le rôle de la concurrence dans l’essor des écoles supérieures de commerce. Formation Emploi, 1, 7–28. Boud, D., & Tennant, M. (2006). Putting doctoral education to work: Challenges to academic practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 25(3), 293–306. Confédération suisse. (2016). Message relatif à l’encouragement de la formation, de la recherche et de l’innovation pendant les années 2017 à 2020-2. 24.02.2016. CSSI. (2015). Dr. Arbeitslos? L’insertion professionnelle des titulaires de doctorat en Suisse. Document CSSI 6/2015. de Rassenfosse, G., & Williams, R. (2015). Rules of engagement: Measuring connectivity in national systems of higher education. Higher Education, 70(6), 941–956. Enders, J. (2002). Serving many masters: The PhD on the labour market, the everlasting need of inequality, and the premature death of humboldt. Higher Education, 44(3), 493–517. Engelage, S., & Hadjar, A. (2008). Promotion und Karriere – Lohnt es sich zu promovieren? Eine Analyse der Schweizerischen Absolventenstudie. Swiss Journal of Sociology, 34(1), 71–93. Engelage, S., & Schubert, F. (2009). PhD and career – do academics with a doctoral degree in Switzerland find adequate jobs? Zeitschrift für Arbeitsmarkt Forschung, 42(3), 213–233. Inderwildi, F. (2015). Employabilité des titulaires d’un doctorat ès lettres ou en sciences humaines. Analyse de la perception des employeurs publics sur les compétences acquises. Mémoire de Master en administration publique à l’Institut des hautes études en administration publique (IDHEAP). Lang, D. W. (2002). A lexicon of inter-institutional cooperation. Higher Education, 44(1), 153–183. Lévy, R., Roux, P., & Gobet, P. (1997). La situation du corps intermédiaire dans les hautes écoles suisses. Berne: Conseil suisse de la science. Lockhart, J.  C., & Stablein, R.  E. (2002). Spanning the academy-practice divide with doctoral education in business. Higher Education Research & Development, 21(2), 191–202. Maurer, E., & Zeltner, E. (1997). Einführung von Graduiertenkollegs in der Schweiz. Bern: Schweizerischer Wissenschaftsrat. Neumann, R. (2002). Diversity, doctoral education and policy. Higher Education Research & Development, 21(2), 167–178. Perellon, J.  F. (2001). The governance of higher education in a federal system: The case of Switzerland. Tertiary Education and Management, 7(2), 211–224. Perellon, J. F. (2003). The creation of a vocational sector in Swiss higher education: Balancing trends of system differentiation and integration. European Journal of Education, 38(4), 357–370. Schweiz, F. H. (2013). Ja zu neuem PhD. Mai 2013. Swiss Federal Statistical Office. (2016). Tagesanzeiger. (2012). Doktor Arbeitslos. 13 Aug 2012. Usher, R. (2002). A diversity of doctorates: Fitness for the knowledge economy? Higher Education Research & Development, 21(2), 143–153. Young, C., Curty, P., Hirt, M., & Wirth Bürgel, K. (2009). Zur Lage des akademischen Mittelbaus. Befragungsstudie an den kantonalen Universitäten und ETH, Schlussbericht zuhanden des Staatssekretariats für Bildung und Forschung. Bern: Staatssekretariat für Bildung und Forschung.

Chapter 5

A Tale of Expansion and Change: Major Trends in Doctoral Training and in the Doctoral Population in Portugal Pedro Teixeira and Pedro Videira

5.1  Introduction Portugal has traditionally lagged other European countries regarding formal educational qualifications, and the levels of qualification improved slowly until the mid-­ twentieth century (Reis 1993). The 1974 Revolution triggered a dramatic political turn from a right-wing conservative authoritarian regime to a transitory radical left-­ wing socialist regime and led to a rapid succession of unstable governments. Higher education institutions were quickly engulfed in political turmoil. By the late 1970s, the major political actors sought to introduce stability and to consolidate an institutional framework similar to most of Western Europe in view of a future integration in the EU (which occurred in 1986). The major policies during this normalization period aimed to promote the growth of the higher education system and its diversification by implementing a binary system and slowly allowing the emergence of private institutions. These orientations were later reflected in the 1986 Basic Law on Education which attempted to clarify the binary divide and the specific contribution of the polytechnic and university subsectors. Over the last 40 years, the higher education system has been profoundly transformed, undergoing a period of rapid growth and massification (especially up to the turn of the century). This period of expansion has raised the maturity level of the system, with growing expectations regarding the quality and the performance. One of the major developments in this respect refers to the relevance of doctoral educa-

P. Teixeira (*) CIPES & Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal e-mail: [email protected] P. Videira CIPES & ISCTE, Matosinhos, Portugal e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



P. Teixeira and P. Videira

tion. Whereas in the 1980s and 1990s, the priority seemed to be the expansion of undergraduate education and then master programmes, but over the last 15 years, the focus has moved to doctoral education and correlated research activities. This has significantly transformed the landscape of higher education and research. In this chapter, we analyse the evolution of doctoral training in Portugal and examine the characteristics of the current population of doctoral holders in Portugal. In the first section, we present the Portuguese higher education system, highlighting the context that led to a greater emphasis on doctoral training. In the second part of the chapter, we present the main trends in doctoral training and in the current population of doctoral holders, using international survey data regularly obtained from this population in several OECD countries. We reflect on how the rapid expansion of doctoral training has shaped the changing population of doctoral holders. Finally, we conclude with some thoughts about the major implications of those recent developments and challenges faced by the system regarding doctoral education.

5.2  The Development of Mass Higher Education in Portugal The Portuguese system of higher education is fairly diversified, comprising private and public subsectors and universities and polytechnics within each of those subsystems. The oldest and largest institutions are the public universities, whilst private higher education institutions are younger and considerably smaller. As far as public universities are concerned, the oldest dates from the beginning of the twentieth century or even before. The University of Coimbra was established in the late thirteenth century, for example. The change in 1910 to a republican system of government led to a reform of the University of Coimbra and established the Universities of Lisbon and Porto. The number of public institutions only changed significantly in the 1970s, when a group of universities was created in the wake of a major higher education reform with the purpose of widening access to higher education. Four new universities were then established, all but one located outside the two major urban areas of the country. By the late 1970s, two university institutes were established in the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores, and in the mid-1980s, a distance learning university, Universidade Aberta, was created. In Portugal, there are currently 14 public universities and one university college with a status similar to that of a university (ISCTE). Table 5.1 presents some characteristics of the public universities included in our study. During the 1970s, and following broader international trends (Teichler 1988), the Portuguese system diversified its structure to include nonuniversity higher education, thus leading to a binary system. With the creation of the polytechnics, the supply of more vocationally oriented programmes was envisaged and a stronger emphasis on applied research vis-à-vis pure research. The public polytechnic network includes 15 generalist institutions; 3 polytechnic health institutes, the polytechnic schools integrated in the universities of Aveiro and of the Algarve; as well as a handful of small institutions of nursing and military training.

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Table 5.1  Portuguese public universities University Açores Algarve Aveiro UBI Coimbra Évora Lisboa* Técnica de Lisboa* Nova de Lisboa Madeira Minho Porto UTAD ISCTE-IUL Aberta (Open U.)

Foundation year 1976 1979 1973 1979/1986 1290 1973/1979 1911 1930 1973 1988 1973 1911 1979/1986 1972 1988

NUTS III Região Autónoma Açores Algarve Baixo Vouga Cova da Beira Baixo Mondego Alentejo Central Grande Lisboa Grande Lisboa Grande Lisboa Região Autónoma Madeira Cávado Grande Porto Douro Grande Lisboa N.A.

Source: Teixeira et al. (2009) Notes: (1) These two universities with * have merged in 2013, becoming the largest university in the country (2) The NUTS classification (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) is a hierarchical system for dividing up the economic territory of the EU

Another structural development of the Portuguese higher education system was the emergence of a fast-developing private sector in the mid-1980s. The private sector developed in the midst of strong political pressure towards the expansion of the system and of social demands for wider access (Teixeira and Amaral 2001). Previously, the private sector was very small both in terms of the number of institutions and of the percentage of total enrolment, consisting essentially of a few small colleges and the Catholic University, which was established in the early 1970s and has a special status. In some instances, it is treated as a public institution and in others as a private one. Currently, the private sector is composed of eight universities, ten schools of teachers’ training, nine nursing colleges, eight health colleges (two of which are integrated in universities and two in a polytechnic college), and a large number of schools, which provide courses in the arts, administration and management and technologies. Table 5.2 confirms the profound transformation of the higher education system throughout recent years and the overall pattern of rapid expansion. The system’s expansion started in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1990s, becoming a problem for governments from a financial point of view. The growth of enrolments per sector also highlights the important structural changes mentioned, with the growing diversification and privatization of the system. Until the 1980s, public universities overwhelmingly dominated the higher education system. A decade later, the nonuniversity sector was already absorbing a significant proportion of enrolments and, at present, the polytechnic public sector enrols more than one in every four students

Source: DGEEC (2016a, b)

Public universities Public polytechnics Private Total

1981 No. 64,659 12,195 7319 84,173

% 76.8 14.5 8.7 100.0

1991 No. 103,999 31,351 51,430 186,780 % 47.0 28.7 24.3 100.0

Table 5.2  Evolution of enrolments in the Portuguese higher education sector 2001 No. 176.303 108.486 111.812 396.601 % 44.5 27.3 28.2 100.0

2011 No. 193.633 120.399 89.413 403.445

% 48.0 29.8 22.2 100.0

2016 No. 191.633 106.251 58.515 356.399

% 53.8 29.8 16.4 100.0

70 P. Teixeira and P. Videira

5  A Tale of Expansion and Change: Major Trends in Doctoral Training…


Table 5.3  Evolution of enrolments and graduates in doctoral programmes in Portuguese higher education Enrolments Graduates

1999/2000 2.955 551

2002/2003 5.353 838

2005/2006 8.505 1.094

2008/2009 13.429 1.285

2011/2012 19.203 1.859

2014/2015 19.465 2.351

Source: DGEEC (2016a, b)

in the system. In the private sector, the nonuniversity enrolments represent over 50% of that sector. The data also show that after an explosive expansion, the private sector seems to be in recession relative to the public sector. In recent years, the reorganization of the system became a critical issue on the policy agenda, especially given the decreasing number of potential students for higher education and their concentration in some parts of the country. The rapid and largely unregulated expansion of higher education fostered a network of institutions and study programmes requiring better coordination and presenting some problems of overcapacity in certain regions and in certain fields. Initially this affected mainly the private sector, but it eventually spread to the overall system, particularly affecting the less prestigious institutions, those located in the more peripheral parts of the country, and those fields in which the expansion had been more unbalanced regarding actual demand. This evolution since the early twenty-first century created a very different context in which institutional competition was exacerbated, and at the system’s level, the emphasis moved from quantitative expansion to qualitative improvement. Quality and relevance of the overall higher education system (and its institutions) became the central issue and remain such today. Moreover, those dimensions were increasingly linked to a concern with the effectiveness of the higher education system in contributing to economic and social development, which has placed public and private institutions under increasing scrutiny. Policymakers and various social actors have become more interested in higher education issues but also more inquisitive regarding the economic and social relevance of higher education, notably through the value of its diplomas in the labour market (Figueiredo et al. 2013, 2015). The growing maturity of the system was also reflected in a changing enrolment structure as shown in Table 5.3. By the end of the twentieth century, doctoral students represented a fraction of enrolments, but in recent years they acquired a significant relevance, especially in the most research-intensive institutions. The pace of expansion has slowed since the beginning of the present decade and seems to have reached a certain threshold. Numerous factors may have contributed to this stabilization, but a prominent one has been the growing emphasis on quality assessment across the higher education system. This has led to various changes and to a much more demanding context regarding training programmes in such areas as qualification of staff, facilities and scientific and pedagogic coordination. We will now turn our attention to that changing context.


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5.3  Increasing Emphasis on Quality and Performance As in most Western European higher education systems, Portugal experienced the emergence of a policy model of stronger self-regulation, with the state reducing its level of control and moving to a more supervisory role. These trends were linked with access policies leading to mass higher education systems and financial constraints faced by public administration, which generally made it impossible to continue to manage the system in a centrally planned manner (see Neave 2012; Teixeira et al. 2004). The approval of the University Autonomy Law (Law 108/88) marked a new type of relationship between government and higher education institutions, making the latter more autonomous. Public universities were awarded important new administrative and financial capacities and have seen that their academic autonomy widened. In 1990, the public polytechnics have had their autonomy broadened as well. Despite the increased autonomy of public higher education institutions, the state remained an important partner in the higher education system (Teixeira et al. 2004), as illustrated by the development of quality assessment. The initial system, which focused on undergraduate degrees, was introduced in the mid-1990s (Law 38/94). That system of quality assessment put a greater emphasis on improvement and less on accountability and was essentially based on self-assessment followed by an external peer review. By the early 2000s, there were signs of increasing dissatisfaction with the inability of the system to improve the quality of educational provision and a willingness to move towards a system based more on accountability (Rosa and Sarrico 2012). In 2005, the government commissioned the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) to undertake a review of the quality assurance system and announced during the review process that the existing system would be dismantled and replaced by a new accreditation system in early 2007. Following the ENQA report (2006), the government created an accreditation agency fully independent of both the government and higher education institutions. The agency has been responsible for the evaluation and accreditation of both the institutions and their study programmes and has become a major force in the regulation of the system. Regarding doctoral education, and at a time when the first cycle of reviews is about to be completed, the agency has had a clear impact. This has been especially relevant in the private sector, normally regarded as the weakest part of the system (particularly in research). In the public sector, the percentage of nonaccredited programmes is about 3%, whereas in the private sector, it rises to about 20% of the total number of programmes submitted to review. Moreover, less than half of the programmes in the private sector were granted full accreditation, compared to two thirds of the programmes in the public sector as shown in Table 5.4. If one excludes those submitted for preliminary accreditation (new ones), the differences are even more striking. Add to this the self-selection effect on the part of the agency, since many existing programmes were not even submitted to review and were closed down by many institutions.

Source: A3ES (2016)

Sector Total PHD Preliminary accreditation Full accreditation Conditional 4Y Conditional 3Y Conditional 2Y Conditional 1Y Nonaccredited Public 633 160 408 2 16 7 15 25 Private 80 13 38 0 13 0 1 15

Table 5.4  Summary of accreditation processes of doctoral programmes (as for December 2016)

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This evolution towards greater emphasis on quality assessment was also relevant to the qualification of the academic staff and the increasing strength of the research mission, especially within public universities. In the early 1990s, many public universities still presented a small percentage of staff with a doctoral degree, but 20 years later, this had changed, in some cases, to more than 90% of the academic staff. This evolution was slower in the private sector but still very visible. At the times of rapid expansion, private institutions relied heavily on non-permanent staff (either moonlighting from day jobs in companies or in public HEIs), but today they have been asked to establish far more stable labour relations and to develop a core of permanent and qualified staff. This growing qualification of the academic staff was also the cause and effect of parallel developments in research, notably regarding evaluation and funding. Most of the funding for the evaluation of research is awarded on a competitive basis through programmes and regular external international evaluations.

5.4  Doctoral Training in Portugal 5.4.1  Recent Trends The expansion of higher education systems in most countries has produced not only a sharp increase in tertiary level graduates but also a growing number of individuals with postgraduate degrees, among them doctorate holders. It has been widely recognized by governments, policymakers and employers how important this group of highly qualified personnel has been to both the advancement of science and research as well as in the labour market. Following international trends, the number of doctorate holders in Portugal has likewise increased dramatically in recent years and even at a higher pace than in most OECD countries. For example, in 2009 the number of new doctoral degree holders graduating from universities in OECD countries was 38% higher than in 2000 (Auriol et  al. 2013), yet in the same period, the increase in the number of new doctorates graduating in Portugal was approximately 81%. This growth rate has continued until today, although at a slightly lower pace (DGEEC 2016a, b). This growth trend in Portugal is expected to last for the foreseeable future. The number of students enrolled in doctoral programmes increased year on year until 2014, with a slight reduction in 2015 and 2016. This evolution in the number enrolled at this level might mean that this tendency has peaked, probably also influenced by the recent economic crisis and higher emigration levels, besides the growing emphasis on quality of new and existing programmes. Fuelled by the growth in the number of graduations, the number of doctorates residing in Portugal has likewise known a marked increase in recent years. In 2012, there were 24,992 doctorate holders residing in Portugal (DGEEC 2016a, b) as shown in Fig. 5.1. In just 6 years, this population had almost doubled. According to an OECD study with data from

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Fig. 5.1  Evolution of the number of doctorate holders and number of students enrolled in doctoral training in Portugal. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2006, 2009, 2012)

2009, in this year the number of new doctorates in Portugal in the active population (between 25 and 64 years old) was 2.6%, only behind Switzerland and Sweden, and considerably higher than the OECD average of 1.5%. Even though Portugal has experienced significant advances in education and training at all levels in recent decades, the country is still dealing with an overall structural deficit in education and qualifications, an inheritance from the ‘Estado Novo’ regime which ended in 1974. In spite of the considerable growth in the number of new doctorate holders in recent years, and the catching-up process that this represents for the country in comparative international terms, Portugal is still behind most OECD countries at this level. In 2012, Portugal was still one of the OECD countries with fewer doctorates per thousand inhabitants (2.4‰), at the same level as Spain or Bulgaria, and likewise in relation to its active population (4.5 doctorates per 1000 active working people), just above Turkey. As for the unemployment rate of these doctorates, which had slightly decreased between 2006 and 2009, it increased in 2012 to 2.1% which might be explained by the economic crisis affecting even this highly qualified group. Two additional important trends are related to gender and disciplinary distribution. On one hand, there was a marked increase in the number of women completing doctorates. In terms of disciplinary distribution, the new doctorates in the social sciences and in engineering and technologies account for a significant proportion of this increase (see Fig. 5.2). These tendencies will be further analyzed in the next section. On a final note, it is also important to bear in mind that most of the data presented here refer to the indicators collected in the OECD, UNESCO and Eurostat joint project ‘Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH)’, namely, in the 2012 questionnaire


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Fig. 5.2  Evolution of the number of doctorate holders in Portugal and gender distribution. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2006, 2009, 2012)

(Auriol et al. 2013). However, this study may not fully reflect some effects of the continuation of the economic crisis in Portugal (such as the contraction of investment in higher education institutions and in science and technology in general), the growth of unemployment and emigration rates even among highly qualified personnel such as doctorate holders and other related factors.

5.4.2  Exploring the Training of Doctorates in Portugal The increase in the number of new doctorates in Portugal is a relatively common tendency in disciplinary terms. However, it was particularly evident in the social sciences, which increased by 946% between 1990 and 2012, and also in engineering and technology areas, the humanities and medical sciences (see Fig. 5.3). Slightly below and with a tendency for stagnation are the exact and natural sciences, whilst the agrarian sciences is the only area where the number of new doctorates has actually decreased in this period. The number of female doctorates both in absolute terms and in relation to their male counterparts has also seen a marked increase (see Fig. 5.4). In 2008, for the first time, the number of women graduating was higher than the number of men, and this tendency has continued. In 2012, 1000 women obtained their PhD whilst only 800 men did so. In the same year, 46.7% of the total number of doctorates was awarded to women. The great majority of doctorates graduating from Portuguese universities are of Portuguese nationality, but the training of foreign students has likewise increased from an average of merely 1 per year in the 1980s to an average of 52 between 2010 and 2012.

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Fig. 5.3  Evolution of the number of new doctorate holders in Portugal by scientific area. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2012)

Fig. 5.4  Evolution of the number of new doctorate holders in Portugal by gender. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2012)

In general, the option for doing a PhD has taken place at an intermediate level in the professional career of those presently with a doctorate. The average age at completion of the PhD was 38 years in 2012, and there is no significant difference at this level throughout the last decade even though there was an increase in the average age of completion of the doctorates between the 1970s and the 1990s. One possible explanation for this is that a significant proportion of the doctoral studies in the 1970s and 1980s were done abroad where the average age at completion was comparatively lower. In the present time and in disciplinary terms, the highest average


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age at completion of the PhD was in the humanities and natural sciences (42 and 41 years old, respectively), followed by the medical sciences (38 years), agrarian sciences (37) and well below the average were the engineering and technologies, the exact sciences and the natural sciences (with an average of 35, 34 and 33  years, respectively). Compared to other OECD countries, Portugal is close to the OECD average in this respect and to some Nordic countries such as Norway and Denmark but still well above Belgium, a country with a relatively low age at completion of a doctorate, with an average age between 28 and 30 years. The fact that the completion of the doctorate is done at an intermediate phase in the professional career might also contribute to the extension of the duration needed for its conclusion. As explained below, most PhD candidates are already employed during the completion of the PhD, usually in a higher education institution (which is by far the main employer of doctorates in Portugal). The expected time for completion of the doctorate in Portugal is 36 months, but in 2012 the average duration of the doctorates was nearer 48 months, a value which has been relatively stable throughout the last decade. The majority of PhD candidates are able to support themselves during the completion of the degree because they are already employed at a higher education institution, and their salaries as teachers are their major income. The Portuguese Research Council (FCT) scholarships are also an important source of funding, particularly for candidates doing their PhD abroad. Other sources of funding include the candidates’ own savings and research projects where they might be employed as junior researchers, but unlike other countries, bank loans are almost completely absent in this phase. The FCT scholarships were an important factor in the expansion of the number of doctorate holders in Portugal. Analysing the evolution of these scholarships shows that both the amount of funding and the number of scholarships experienced continuous growth from 1994 to 2011, when there were 8,676 active scholarships which corresponded to an overall expenditure of almost 120 million euros. Since then, however, due to a policy change and lack of funding given the country’s economic crisis, there was a significant contraction of the investment in these ­scholarships. In 2013 and 2014, there was a cut of approximately 35% both in the number of active PhD scholarships and in the available funding and of more than 60% in the number of new scholarships provided compared with the previous years. In terms of the scientific areas supported by the scholarships during the period 2000 and 2014, the areas with the highest number of scholarships approved were Engineering and Technologies (23%) and the Social Sciences (21%), followed by the Natural Sciences (15%) and the Humanities (14%), the Medical and Health Sciences (12%), the Exact Sciences (11%) and lastly the Agrarian Sciences (4%). Postdoctoral scholarships have followed a similar pattern of expansion and then contraction since 2011, particularly in 2014 and 2015. The main areas supported for this level of training are the Natural Sciences, the Exact Sciences and the Engineering and Technologies which represent more than half of the scholarships in execution (54%), followed by the Humanities (14%), Medical Sciences (13%), Social Sciences (13%) and Agrarian Sciences (6%).

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5.5  Situation of Doctorate Holders 5.5.1  Brief Characterization of Doctorate Holders in Portugal A natural consequence of the rapid increase in the number of new doctorates graduating in recent years has been the lowering of the average age. In 2012, 12% of Portuguese doctorates were under 35 years, whilst the majority (65%) were in the 35–54 years old cohort, and only 23% were over 55 years old (see Fig. 5.5). The relatively low proportion of doctorate holders below 35 years is explained by the previously reported tendency of an increase in the mean age of new doctorates at the time of completion of the degree. In terms of gender distribution, men still make up the majority of doctorate holders, but women already represent almost half the population (46.7%) and the majority of new doctorates graduating from Portuguese universities. Their proportion has increased and will continue to increase both in overall terms and in the younger cohorts. The number of women doctorates is already higher than that of men among the doctorates younger than 35 years old and in the cohort of those between 35 and 44 years old, whilst the opposite is true for the doctorates older than 45 years where the overrepresentation of men is still evident. In the scientific domains, there is a clear preference for doctorates of the social sciences, sciences of the engineering and technologies and exact sciences which corresponded in 2012 to over half (58%) of the population. There seems to be a certain gender bias in this respect given that women tend to prefer the Social

Fig. 5.5  Distribution of doctorate holders in Portugal by age group and gender in 2012. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2012)


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Fig. 5.6  Distribution of doctorate holders in Portugal by scientific area and gender in 2012. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2012)

Sciences and the Exact Sciences whilst men favour the Engineering and Technologies as shown in Fig.  5.6. Other areas such as the natural sciences, humanities and ­medical sciences account, respectively, for 14%, 13% and 11% of doctorates, whilst the agrarian sciences is the least represented domain accounting for only 4% of the total number of doctorates in Portugal. As for the national origin of doctorate holders residing in Portugal, the great majority (93%) have Portuguese nationality and merely 7% are foreigners. This shows that unlike other OECD countries, Portugal is still not overly attractive for this group of very highly skilled professionals.

5.5.2  Professional Situation The majority (94%) of doctorate holders in Portugal were employed in 2012, which reflects the prevailing employment premium associated with doctoral training, whilst merely 2% of individuals with this level of training were unemployed, and 4% were considered inactive. There are, however, some generational differences in this regard. Younger doctorates, particularly under 35 years old, are clearly the most affected by unemployment representing 44% of all unemployed doctorates whilst being only 12% of the total number of doctorates. Additionally, some gender inequalities persist in this regard with women representing around 60% of unemployed doctorates even though they amount to under half (46.7%) of the total number of PhD holders. This might be related both to an enduring inequality in terms of access to the labour market and also to the fact that female doctorates are usually younger than their male counterparts and tend to have entered the labour market

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also at a later stage. In terms of the relation between employment rates and scientific areas of the doctorate holders, the domain with the comparatively less favourable situation was the Humanities but still with a 91% employment rate. By comparison with other professional groups, this overall employment rate is obviously an exceptional and very favourable situation. In spite of the high rates of employment, Portuguese doctorate holders are also frequently in temporary and precarious contractual positions. In 2012, 41% of all doctorate holders had a fixed-term or otherwise precarious contract, whilst in the rest of the population, the proportion of employed individuals in this situation was less than 20%. This contractual precariousness is particularly evident among the doctorates who have more recently finished their degrees. In fact, using data from 2009, an OECD report (Auriol et al. 2013) points to Portugal as being one of the countries where in spite of the high employment rates the prevalence of temporary contractual arrangements was higher for doctorates who had finished their degree less than 5 years ago. Given the effects of the economic crisis on both the public and private sectors, this overall contractual precariousness, and particularly for the younger generations of graduates, is bound to have increased in recent years. In terms of the scientific areas where this precariousness is more prevalent, we can see that this is a relatively distributed phenomenon with most areas depicting values around the global average of 41%, but the natural sciences is particularly striking with more than half of the doctorate holders in temporary positions, whilst in the agrarian sciences, only 28% of the doctorates have a temporary contract. In terms of the distribution of the doctorate holders by employment sector, the majority (83%) still works in the higher education sector, followed by the state (8%), non-profit private institutions (5%) and with private companies employing only 4% of doctorates as shown in Fig. 5.7. There has been a slight tendency increase in the proportion of doctorates working in private companies and non-profit organizations since 2006, but those employed account for only 2% (private) and 3% (non-­ profit) of all doctorates. This reflects the tendency of private companies to undervalue doctorate holders and the country’s inability to provide incentives for the hiring of doctoral holders outside the higher education sector. Compared with other OECD countries, Portugal has one of the highest concentrations of doctorates in higher education and one of the lowest in private companies. However, there is still a tendency to downgrade employment in the higher education sector in comparison with the other sectors. This is particularly marked in the younger generations of doctorates, who have more recently completed their degrees. Among doctorates younger than 35  years old, 73% are employed in the higher education sector, 14% work in the non-profit sector and 9% in private companies. Even if the clear majority of doctorate holders within this group are still employed in the higher education sector, these numbers already reflect a slight shift in the prevalent employment paradigm. In terms of professional careers, most of the doctorate holders residing in Portugal work in teaching positions in the higher education sector, whether in universities (53%) or polytechnic institutions (12%), 13% have a research career, and 11.3% are also working in research albeit under diverse scholarship programmes.


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Fig. 5.7  Distribution of the doctorate holders by employment sector. (Source: DGEEC – Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH) 2006, 2009, 2012)

These groups represent more than 90% of the employed doctorate holders, and the presence of PhDs in other professional groups such as teachers in basic and secondary levels of education, technicians, medical doctors and other professional groups is very small. In terms of the perceived relation between the professional activity and the scientific area of the PhD, the great majority of the doctorates (71%) see these as completely related, 26% as partially related and only 3% as unrelated.

5.5.3  P  ortuguese Doctorates’ Professional and Personal Satisfaction Levels An important factor, although sometimes neglected, in analysing the careers and overall situation of doctorate holders is their satisfaction with their own professional and personal situation and with their sense of the contribution they are making to the community. The CDH survey comprises a number of indicators relating to the satisfaction of doctorate holders, and in 2012, 81% of Portuguese doctorate holders declared themselves to be either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall situation. However, when analysing the degree of satisfaction with the individual factors comprised in the database, it is clear that the satisfaction with career and working conditions, such as salaries, social benefits, job stability or opportunities for progression, among others, is usually much lower than with their jobs in relation to the intellectual challenge, their degree of autonomy and responsibility and even the perceived contribution to society. Particularly evident is the overall level of

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dissatisfaction with the salaries and with the career progression opportunities. Fiftyone percent and 65%,,respectively, of doctorate holders declare themselves to be either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied. One explanation for this is that most doctorate holders in Portugal still work in teaching or research positions, mostly in the higher education sector or in research organizations. In these sectors job progression in recent years has been put on hold for many of these professionals due to budgetary constraints. Consideration should also be given to a degree to which the employment sector of the doctorate holders might be an important factor in differentiating their level of satisfaction with some of these issues. Doctorate holders who report themselves to be more satisfied with their salary are the ones working for private companies and for non-profit organizations – respectively, 62% and 61% of them report being satisfied or very satisfied in this regard. Those working in higher education institutions (48%) or for the state (40%) are the least satisfied with their income. In terms of job stability, the situation is somewhat different since the doctorate holders working for the state (71%) and non-­profit organizations (73%) are reporting higher degrees of satisfaction, whilst in higher education (57%) and particularly in the private business sector, only 40% of doctorate holders are satisfied with their contractual stability. The overall feeling in terms of career progression was one of dissatisfaction in the overall population, but this is not so evident for doctorates working in private companies, where more than half (63%) report some degree of satisfaction with their progression, but it is particularly striking for doctorates working in higher education (35%) or the state (25%). This is a consequence of the overall stagnation in career progressions accentuated by budgetary constraints caused by the economic crisis. Nevertheless, in the case of the higher education institutions, the slow or stagnant career progression rates, particularly for younger doctorates, were already observable even before the crisis.

5.5.4  Mobility Patterns of Portuguese Doctorate Holders The mobility of doctorate holders and researcher is one of the most important means for knowledge transfer between the public and private sectors (Edler et al. 2011), and its promotion has been encouraged by numerous policy programmes and initiatives in Europe. Compared with other OECD countries, Portuguese doctorate holders, whether in research careers or otherwise employed, have comparatively lower job mobility. The 2012 CDH survey in Portugal (Auriol et al. 2013) shows a higher percentage of doctorate holders had job mobility over the previous 10 years if they worked in private companies (18%) and non-profit organizations (16%) compared with those working for the state (10%) or in higher education (7%), where the resistance to changing professional careers seemed to be higher. Analysing the mobility patterns of the doctorate holders who reported to have changed jobs within this 10-year time frame, we see that the sectors with a higher prevalence of cross-sector mobility are the state and private companies where 82% and 77%, respectively, of


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doctorate holders have reported changing jobs. In both cases, the higher education sector is the most frequent destination for cross-sector mobility and is also the one reporting the highest levels of within-sector mobility with 73% of doctorates reporting to have changed jobs whilst remaining in the higher education sector. Even within this mobile population, the overall satisfaction with career and professional aspects such as career progression (35%), job stability (39%), social benefits (48%) or even salaries (59%) still remain quite low. Concerning international mobility patterns, between 2003 and 2012, 17% of the doctorate holders residing in Portugal experienced international mobility either coming to Portugal or spending longer than a 3-month period abroad. These mobile doctorate holders have gone to or returned primarily from the following: the United Kingdom (20%), the United States (17%) and Spain (14%). One possible explanation for this is that these countries are also the usual destinations for Portuguese doctoral candidates or doctorate holders to pursue the completion of their degrees or to spend a professional period abroad and are likely the most probable for them to return from. One of the principal reasons to have brought the doctorate holders to Portugal are ‘other professional or economic reasons’ (69%). This category comprises job search, an actual offer of a better professional position as well as the completion of postdoctoral studies. Another category is ‘academic or research motives’ which encompass opportunities for the publication of work, the development or continuation of a thesis or work in a specific area which is absent or underdeveloped in the country of origin. ‘Professional or personal motives’ were important for only 15% of doctorate holders. The mobility periods abroad are usually short-term. Of those who had an international experience between 2003 and 2012, 40% spent less than 1 year, and only 11% extended their international stay for more than 5 years. On the other hand, 14% of the doctorate holders residing in Portugal indicated their desire to leave the country in the following 2 years with, respectively, 86% and 50% reporting ‘academic or research motives’ and ‘other professional or economic reasons’ as the main mobility drivers. Even though it is very difficult to gather exact empirical data on the mobility of doctorate holders at the international level, there are some potential risks with the ‘brain drain’ from Portugal, i.e. a significant outward movement of doctorate holders which is not offset by opposite mobility flows. Among the main factors for this are the low levels of satisfaction with their professional situation in Portugal in terms of their career progression options or salaries, accentuated by the economic crisis which has caused severe budgetary constraints in higher education institutions, traditionally one of the main employers for doctorate holders. These effects might be particularly evident for the younger generations of doctorate holders, who are usually in a more precarious contractual situation and more likely to face unemployment.

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5.6  Looking Ahead: Major Issues and Challenges The training of doctoral students has undergone significant changes over the last 10–15 years in Portugal. The major factor has been the steady and rapid expansion of the number of programmes, enrolments and graduates. In the early twenty-first century, this population was still very small and represented a tiny share of the higher education system, but in recent years, these have become an important part of the higher education sector. This rapid expansion has been watched with some concern and, with the establishment of the accreditation agency, has been subjected to greater scrutiny regarding its scientific and pedagogical quality. This has significantly impacted those institutions or fields with a lower research intensity and weaker participation in international research networks. The rapid growth in the population of doctorates has also created new challenges for the expanding population. In the early stages of the expansion period, this was particularly welcomed, as it contributed to a much-needed qualification of the academic staff, fostered by expanding resources for research training and research activities; in more recent years, the expectations of new doctorates have increasingly been challenged by a more adverse employment outlook. The situation has become more complex due to a variety of converging factors. First, the higher ­education system has stagnated, and the need to recruit new professors has diminished significantly compared to the late 1990s or even the early 2000s. Secondly, higher education institutions’ needs to qualify their academic staff have also declined, although this has not evolved in a homogeneous way in all institutions or in all fields. Finally, the major funding cuts in public institutions led to constraints in their capacity to replace retiring or leaving academics with new ones. This in turn reduced the capacity of the higher education sector to absorb a significant share of the new doctorates they were training. In recent years the population of doctorate holders, especially the younger ones, has faced an increasingly difficult employment situation. Although higher education institutions are still the main employer, albeit to a lesser degree in this younger generation, the limitations in that sector have forced doctorate holders to consider other alternatives, either in country or abroad. However, these alternatives have not emerged easily. The situation has been worsened by the constraints affecting the research system, although this has often emerged as a short-term option to many of them, mainly due to enduring precarious employment arrangements (mainly supported by research assistant positions, postdoctoral grants, etc.). Regarding other employment options in the country, the low technological intensity of the business sector, dominated by very small companies and by low levels of qualification of their staff (even at the management levels), has hindered its capacity to absorb a significant share of new doctorates. Despite some improvements, there is still a long way to go before the business sector becomes a significant option for many new PhDs. The constraints affecting public expenditure have affected recruitment within that sector transversally and, with the exception of a few niche areas


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(e.g. regulatory agencies, statistical and research units), the public sector is not an option for many new doctoral graduates. This employment outlook has led many to consider other options abroad, with rising concerns about the levels of brain drain, especially for a country that has traditionally had low levels of tertiary qualification. This debate, which has often surfaced in political and media contexts, has highlighted two major policy options regarding the training of PhDs. On one hand, what might be called a conservative or cautious approach, in which the training of doctoral candidates, should parallel supply and demand. An oversupply has been blamed for creating a glut of PhDs in the labour market, leading to precarious labour relations and a waste of resources. On the other hand, others have a more voluntarist or proactive approach and consider that the training of new PhDs should stimulate economic and social change. The difficulties are part of a transition to a more knowledge-based society and economy. The former prevailed in the period 2011–2014, whereas the latter was more visible in the period prior to 2011 and in the current government (since late 2015). The coming years will be critical in assessing the extent to which each perspective gains more support despite the growing dissatisfaction identified in the surveys of doctorates in Portugal. If the first view prevails, higher education institutions will be under significant pressure to sustain their existing programmes, and the system is likely to reduce its current training capacity. If the second prevails, then the capacity of less traditional employment options will increase which will affect the training of new cohorts, as the system will increasingly be providing highly qualified labour not only to the higher education and research sectors but also to a variety of economic and social contexts. What happens in the labour market for PhDs will also shape the patterns of doctoral training in the coming decades. The system is clearly at a crossroads, and the coming years will present important challenges to doctoral training in Portugal.

References A3ES  – Agência de Avaliação e Acreditação do Ensino Superior. (2016). Available at acreditacao-de-ciclos-de-estudos Auriol, L., Misu, M., & Freeman, R. A. (2013). Careers of doctorate holders: analysis of labour market and mobility indicators. OECD Science, Technology and Industry working papers, 2013/04. OECD Publishing. DGEEC. (2009). Inquérito aos Doutorados O Perfil dos Doutorados 2006. Lisbon: Portugal: GPEARI. DGEEC. (2012). Inquérito aos Doutorados 2009. Lisbon: Portugal: Directorate General for Statistics in Education and Science. DGEEC – Direcção Geral de Estatísticas de Educação e Ciência. (2016a). Careers of Doctorate Holders (CDH), 2006, 2009 and 2012. Available at DGEEC – Direcção Geral de Estatísticas de Educação e Ciência. (2016b). Available at http://www.

5  A Tale of Expansion and Change: Major Trends in Doctoral Training…


Edler, J., Fier, H., & Grimpe, C. (2011). International scientist mobility and the locus of knowledge and technology transfer. Research Policy, 40(6), 791–805. Figueiredo, H., Teixeira, P., & Rubery, J.  (2013). Unequal futures? Mass higher education and graduates’ relative earnings in Portugal: 1995–2009. Applied Economics Letters, 20(10), 991–997. Figueiredo, H., Rocha, V., Biscaia, R., & Teixeira, P. (2015). Should we start worrying? Mass higher education, skill demand and the increasingly complex landscape of young graduates¿ employment. Studies in Higher Education, 38, 1401–1420. Neave, G. (2012). The evaluative state, institutional autonomy and re-engineering higher education in Western Europe: The prince and his pleasure (issues in higher education). London: Palgrave MacMillan. Reis, J. (1993). O Atraso Económico Português 1850–1930. Lisboa: INCM. Rosa, M. J., & Sarrico, C. S. (2012). Quality, evaluation and accreditation: From steering, through compliance, on to enhancement and innovation? In A.  Amaral & G.  Neave (Eds.), Higher education in Portugal 1974–2009, a nation, a generation (pp. 249–264). Dordrecht: Springer. Teichler, U. (1988). Changing patterns of the higher education system: The experience of three decades. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Teixeira, P., & Amaral, A. (2001, October). Private higher education and diversity: An exploratory survey, (with Alberto Amaral). Higher Education Quarterly, 55(4), 359–395. Teixeira, P., Amaral, A., Dill, D., & Jongbloed, B. (Eds.). (2004). Markets in higher education. Amsterdam: Kluwer. Teixeira, P., Madalena, F., Amado, D., Sá, C., & Amaral, A. (2009). A regional mismatch? Student applications and institutional responses in the Portuguese public higher education system. In K. Mohrman, J. Shi, S. E. Feinblatt, & K. W. Chow (Eds.), Public universities and regional development (pp. 59–80). Chengdu: Sichuan University Press.

Part II

Doctoral Education in Anglo-American Systems

Chapter 6

US Doctoral Study to Early Career William K. Cummings and Olga Bain

6.1  Introduction The US systematic graduate education was a creation of the late nineteenth century. Initially the details of what might constitute graduate education were left to individual universities, but circa 1900 some standardization emerged, one notable feature being the emphasis on course work. From the turn of the twentieth century, there has been a continuous expansion of doctoral programs and of enrollees in these programs with some dramatic ups and downs. The early 1970s is sometimes thought of as the golden age for graduate education in the United States. The total number of US doctoral students and graduates is very high when compared to other countries. We might say that, over the past 30 years or since the golden age, there have been many shifts in graduate education and the academic labor market. More students are in S&E fields; the time to complete has decreased; individual debt is down; the proportion of who are female, minorities, and foreign born is all up; the likelihood of getting a job commitment is down; the likelihood that the job commitment will be in academia is down; and the likelihood that the job commitment will be secure is down (Bowen and Rudenstine 1992a, b; Bradburn 1988; Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service 2010; Ehrenberg and Mavros 1995; Goldberger et al. 1995; National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine 2015; Securing the Next Generation of Scholars and Professionals, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy 1995; Universities Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the Fourteenth Annual Conference 1911; Walters 1965).

W. K. Cummings (*) · O. Bain George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

US graduate education is widely admired. The core model is the research-­ oriented Ph.D. leading to a publishable dissertation and a job in academia. The model involves at least 2 years of post-baccalaureate course work including research seminars where students present their own research and benefit from sharp critiques by fellow students, a comprehensive exam, an additional period of doctoral research, defense of a doctoral thesis, and often another period of postdoctoral research. Graduate students and postdocs also strive to present at annual meetings of academic societies. It is frequently asserted that the American model of graduate education fosters high-quality research that, among other outcomes, stimulates economically viable innovations especially in the knowledge and high-technology manufacturing industries (NSB 2014, O-3). In recent years components of this model have been extensively adopted internationally – one example being the Bologna Process reforms in Western Europe. Yet just as foreign systems are expressing increased interest in the US model, some US academic leaders are raising major questions about the structure and efficacy of US graduate education (Nerad and Evans 2014). • There is disagreement on what constitutes a doctorate, coming primarily from some of the professional fields. Need the doctorate be research-based? Should it be geared to taking up a job in the industry or government instead of an academic job? • Is the quality of instruction satisfactory, or are some professors and assistants negligent? And are new ways for providing doctoral education, notably the online programs, equivalent to the traditional approaches? • Some observers assert that the job market for doctorates is deteriorating.

6.2  Background The first US institutions of higher education were founded in the eighteenth century, long before the American Revolution. These initial institutions were private and sought their charters from the King of England. Following the successful war for independence, a second layer of public institutions was founded, and by the middle of the nineteenth century, there were more IHE in the United States than in all of continental Europe (Boorstin 1958). Today in the United States, there are over 4700  IHE.  Some are gigantic providing programs for a wide range of subjects, while most are small and highly specialized. All treasure their independence from outside bodies including state and national regulators. Systematic graduate education was a creation of the late nineteenth century (Geiger 1993). At that time there was not much graduate education going on in the United States. Academically oriented Americans went overseas for advanced study, especially to Germany. On their return, many sought employment in universities, and they debated ways to strengthen higher education. One outcome was the launching of the research university (Clark, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago) as a site both for basic research and for systematic graduate education.

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Initially the details of what might constitute graduate education were left to individual universities, but circa 1900 some standardization emerged thanks to the leaders of several of the most respected US universities who formed the Association of American Universities as a vehicle for the bottom-up reform of academic standards (Woodbridge 1911). The main principles articulated by the AAU included (a) the breakdown of graduate experience into courses that earned credits; (b) the recognition of two types of graduate degrees, one leading to a research doctorate and the other leading to a professional degree (e.g., the M.D.); (c) consensus that a masters degree should have a minimum of 36 credit hours and a doctorate should have a minimum of 72 credit hours; and (d) the establishment of university-supported accreditation bodies to insure that the programs of individual universities conformed to common standards.

6.2.1  The Golden Age and Beyond In the United States, the term doctorate can refer to any of the three different concepts: all doctorates whether research-based or not, research-based doctorates, and research-based doctorates in the science and engineering fields. The three different specifications of the doctorate universe serve different rationales. The respective totals for new doctorates in 2013 were approximately 72,000 for all doctorates, 53,000 for research-based doctorates, and 47,000 for doctorates in science and engineering. From the turn of the twentieth century, there has been a continuous expansion of doctoral programs and of enrollees in these programs with some dramatic ups and downs (Berelsen 1960). The early 1970s is sometimes thought of as the golden age for graduate education in the United States as it is “remembered” that most doctoral students could obtain funds to support their research, most new doctorates were able to find a job, and most of these jobs were in the academy. Figure 6.1 reports the number of research-based doctorates over time. This number has increased at an annual rate of 4% that is greater than the annual rate of increase of first-degree holders (3%) and the total US population (1.9%). One notable slowdown was the late 1970s following the golden age; again there was an acceleration in the late 1990s as the US economy slowed down.

6.2.2  Changing Rationales for Graduate Education Initially US graduate education focused on training faculty for the rapidly expanding higher education system – and thus was focused on the established academic disciplines. However, from the early days, there was some attention to applied fields such as agriculture and engineering (due to the Morrill Land-Grant Acts) and to medicine. Also many US universities were open to the inclusion of new fields such


W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

Fig. 6.1  Doctorate awarded by US colleges and universities: 1958–2013

as sociology, human development, and others – long before these fields gained academic recognition in Europe. An important early rationale for graduate education was the claim that it promoted economic growth. Later as the United States approached participation in the WWII, some spokespeople asserted that the university and university-based research strengthened national defense (Bush 1952). This stress on the utilitarian benefits of graduate education and research tended to favor the sciences and engineering. Over the past two decades, US higher education has witnessed an increasing emphasis on the information and life sciences; thus the knowledge society has emerged as a more comprehensive rationale for graduate education (NSB 2014). Distinct from the S&E fields are those which stress leadership (e.g., in business administration, academic administration, and K-12 school administration), the humanities, and the social sciences. With these shifts in rationale, there have been shifts in the academic balance of graduate education. Fields that are perceived as strengthening the economy have been favored, while fields that are perceived as having little economic impact (e.g., the humanities) have been de-emphasized. In 1973 59% of the doctorates granted were in S&E fields; by way of contrast, in 2013, 73% of the doctorates were in S&E fields. It is ironic that the United States recognizes the arguments for the multiple roles of academic research and graduate education in strengthening the knowledge society, but the fiscal support for some disciplines, especially in the humanities, has been eroding (Schuster 1995). It is noteworthy that the fields that are neglected have tended to manifest a more critical orientation to current social trends.

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6.3  Some Recent Trends Since the early 1980s, there have been dramatic changes in US higher education and research (Cummings and Finkelstein 2012): perhaps the most fundamental is the societal shift to the knowledge society with pressure on institutions of higher education (IHE) to respond (accompanied by increasing instances of political interventions to prod university responses). Another prominent theme has been to urge IHE to become more self-sufficient. Behind this theme are the increasing demands on national and state governments to cover the rising costs for health, infrastructure, and national security. At the same time, policy makers have come to stress the private benefits of higher education over the public benefits. As higher education is increasingly perceived as a private good, then private resources are expected to cover the costs. Similarly there has been a decline in the federal share of research funding. New directions have been undertaken by university leaders to improve the revenues of their institutions (e.g., expanding enrollments, expanding the number of nonacademic positions, applied research incubators designed by the administrative class). Similarly new directions have been crafted by academics to enhance the revenues of their institutions (e.g., new courses and programs, often of an interdisciplinary nature, new research themes, and pressure on individual academics to find new sources of support for their research).

6.3.1  Differences by Institutional “Rank” and Academic Field While graduate education includes both the masters and doctorate, our focus here is on the doctoral level of graduate education – as that is the level that is both most admired and most troubled. Whereas the United States has over 4700 IHE, there is a steep hierarchy in terms of resources, prestige, and academic offerings. No more than 300 of the 4700 IHE provide doctoral level graduate education. And of these top 300 institutions, only one-third offer doctoral programs in a wide range of subjects; the more typical pattern is for an institution to be selective, with doctoral programs in academic areas of exceptional strength.1 Individuals who obtain entry to an elite graduate degree program are more likely to receive financial support, more likely to complete their doctoral studies, and are more likely to get an attractive job upon graduation.

1  The 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education identifies 108 institutions with very high research activity, 99 with high research activity, and 90 doctoral/research universities (National Science Board 2014, pp. 2–8).


W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

Table 6.1  Graduate education and employment experience by field Social Education Humanities sciences % of all doctorates in 16/9 11/11 16/16 1993/2013 71/65 60/55 65/78 % with job commitment 1993/2013 % find jobs in 45/55 85/82 50/60 academia 1993/2013 % with debt over 32 28 32 $30,000 in 2013 16/12 11/10 9/8 Median years to complete degree 1993/2013 9/11 13/15 17/21 Intl. students as % of all doctorates 1993/2013

Physical sciences 17/17

Life sciences 18/24

Engineering 14/16
















Percentages do total to 100% as the figures for others are not included

Table 6.1 presents several indicators from the annual Survey of Doctorate Recipients by major field. The humanities and physical sciences can be thought of as traditional disciplines, the life sciences as an emerging field, and engineering as a field that over the past two decades went through a major transformation to keep up with the knowledge society shift. Just as there are differences by institutional rank in terms of level of support and likelihood of finishing quickly, so are there differences by academic field. Students in the sciences tend to fare well, whereas those in education are less likely to receive financial support and tend to take a longer time to complete their studies. Clearly the doctoral experience by field varies considerably.

6.4  What Attracts Doctoral Students? The first row of Table 6.1 reports on the relative popularity by academic field of the doctorate degree. In 1993 16% of all doctorates awarded were in education, but by 2013 education’s share had decreased to 9%. In contrast, life science’s share in 1993 was 18% and by 2013 had increased to 24%. Despite the steady growth in the number of doctorates conferred by US universities, some observers express concern that domestic interest in the doctorate is waning. These observers have identified a number of factors that seem to influence student interest.

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Only a fraction of US youth have sufficient academic achievements to qualify them for graduate education, especially at the Ph.D. level. Every third year since the year 2000, OECD has conducted surveys of the intellectual competence (in math, science, and reading) of 15-year-olds in approximately 65 countries. Several of the countries (notably Finland, Canada, South Korea) have shown improvement in their PISA scores. The performance of US youth on the PISA surveys has been below the mean, and despite vigorous efforts to promote educational reforms, the United States has evidenced no notable improvement. Arguably US IHE are currently accepting as many US students as they can and are unable to expand further. Conversely students seek to join programs at prestigious universities or else elect to not pursue graduate education. Thus even though the number of degree-granting IHE has increased, most students tend to restrict their choice for place of study to one of the top institutions. The competition to join programs at the top universities intensifies, whereas it languishes at lesser institutions. In today’s high-speed information era, young people are accustomed to achieve quick results in whatever they pursue. Thus students prefer programs that can be finished in a reasonable period of time. Graduate study and especially the pursuit of a Ph.D. require a long-time commitment. But programs vary in this regard – with some programs introducing measures to speed up the process, whereas other programs are not responsive. Overall it is noteworthy that the average number of years to complete doctoral programs has decreased over the past two decades.2 Students also express a concern for the projected costs of a graduate program. The average cost for graduate education has increased at a rate that exceeds inflation. But again there is considerable variation in costs. And the data in Table 6.1 suggests that the average debt burden of program graduates in the United States has decreased over the past 20 years. Perhaps the most important factor is that students seek a program that opens up good job prospects. This is the murkiest area. In most fields, it would appear that the percentage of graduate students finding academic jobs is down. Also the proportion obtaining any job is down. For those obtaining a job in academia, an increasing percent finds contract jobs rather tenure-track positions. Additionally it appears that the average annual pay for those with non-university jobs is greater than for those obtaining university jobs.

6.5  The Content of Graduate Education Masters programs tend to take 36 credit hours (and in some fields a thesis or comprehensive exam is also expected). Doctorate programs tend to have a minimum of 72  h (36 of which go to a masters degree) and a thesis. However, responding to 2  The facts reported in this section are drawn from the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates conducted by the US Government since 1993; data on student debt was not collected until 2001.


W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

student pressure for lowering the costs of graduate education, there appears to have been modest slippage in the number of required hours for both degrees. An extreme example is Harvard University that offers several 24 credit masters degrees. The traditional graduate education model involves the completion of courses at a pace that fits the student’s other obligations, with many of the courses being offered in midday. But in recent years, an increasing proportion of classes are offered at times that coincide with a student’s work schedule. Thus courses may be offered in the evening or on weekends. Also in some fields – especially the professional fields – there is an increasing reliance on the executive cohort model. In the executive cohort model, a fixed number of students are admitted at the same time and are expected to move forward through the specified course work as a cohort. Typically students of a particular cohort mainly take courses required by their program with the exception of one or two electives that the cohort members select from a set of optional courses offered by the program. The cohort model has the advantage that students can plan their study schedules 2 or more years ahead of time; but it has the disadvantage that students are under considerable pressure to move forward with their cohort, regardless of what obstacles they encounter in their work and family routines. In view of the likelihood that a substantial proportion of doctoral students will end up with jobs outside academia, an emerging question is the appropriateness of the old content (which is primarily focused on training students to conduct basic research) for these new opportunities. For example, does the classical curriculum place an excess emphasis on research methods or theory courses?

6.6  Research Topic In the classical model of graduate education, masters level students were expected to complete a minor research project such as a review of the literature on some issue, and doctoral level students were expected to complete a major project on their own. Over time in most fields, these requirements have been relaxed. For example, in nearly all fields, masters students are not expected to complete a research project other than one or more papers assigned in their course work. In contrast, the majority of doctoral students are still expected to complete at least one research project as a part of their program. An interesting recent trend is for many of these research projects to be interdisciplinary in terms of content. A related trend is for research teams composed of students with complementary interests to collaborate in these interdisciplinary projects (e.g., some students may prepare the theoretical section of a paper, some may complete the laboratory work, and yet others will write up the sections on findings and the discussion of implications). Based on this collaboration, several students (and their lead professors) may publish co-authored reports. Two or more of these reports may be recognized as fulfilling the research requirement, in place of the traditional doctoral dissertation.

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6.7  C  hanges in the Sources of Support for Graduate Education Arguably the total amount of funds available to support doctoral studies has been relatively stable over the past three decades, but the nature of that support has shifted. In earlier times there was relatively more unencumbered support, whereas in more recent times the main source is teaching and research assistantships – where the student has certain duties. The percent with these sources is up. Individual payments are down (from 27% in 1993 to 15% in 2013). Corporate payments are up, and foreign support is up (though only in selected fields) (NSB 2014). When most academic awards had no strings attached, graduate students happily accepted the support. But when work obligations came to be attached to these awards, graduate students at some institutions began to press for clearer contracts and higher benefits, benefits more in line with those in the professional labor markets – and they looked to unions such as the Teamsters to advance their concerns. University administrators tended to oppose these initiatives, but the unionizing efforts appear to be gaining ground. The level of average individual debt of graduate students is modest and has been pretty stable over time – but there are big differences by field (e.g., very high in education). These disparities by field are a potential source of envy and tension among students.

6.8  Employment (Including Postdocs) Graduates of doctoral programs seek jobs, and compared to those with lesser degrees, their employment rate is higher, and their average salaries are higher (Council 2012). However, in recent years the proportion securing a job commitment of any kind (e.g., in or out of academia and postdoc as well as a normal job) is down – reportedly the lowest it has been since appropriate data were collected. While a declining proportion of US doctoral graduates are finding jobs inside academia, it is noteworthy that the share that is in academia (circa 40% in 2013) is much higher than in Western Europe and Asia. The proportion employed by the private sector is up, that by the government is up, and that by the education sector is down. In most fields, an academic job is most prized, but the proportion of doctoral graduates employed in the academe is way down. Concerning the available academic jobs, an increasing proportion in recent years has been contingent appointments (Schuster and Finkelstein 2006).


W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

6.9  The “Myth” of S&E Supremacy It is frequently asserted that the educational and employment opportunities for doctorates available in recent times are not as favorable as they were in the golden age. But this belief deserves careful review. At the time of the golden age, the opportunities for most of the S&E fields were very promising, while those for the humanities and the physical or hard sciences were only so-so. Arguably the opportunities for the latter fields have not changed that much, whereas the opportunities in many S& E fields have declined. As the latter fields are politically well connected, their statements of concern have received much attention. The National Science Board (2014) reports that the percentage of doctorates securing employment is at the lowest level of the past three decades. As illustrated in Table 6.1, the number of years to complete a degree was lowest in the sciences – and that has remained so. Student debt is lowest in the sciences and engineering. In recent years the life sciences appear to have had the best job opportunities – but the differences are not great. Doctorates in the traditional fields are most likely to get a job in academia – whereas less than 20% of engineers get a job there.

6.10  Some Issues Surrounding Graduate Education 6.10.1  Temporary Visa Holders Overall there are more places for training doctoral students than there are interested students of US citizenship. Thus from the early 1970s, foreigners began to fill the gap (Table  6.1). After completing a doctoral program, many have tried to stay  – especially those in the S&E fields. This tendency has increased in recent years.

6.10.2  Gender and Graduate Education At the policy level, there is a concern that graduate education institutions and the job market are sending negative signals to women. Many capable women lack interest in pursuing post-baccalaureate studies, particularly in the S&E fields. Hence a number of programs have been created to attract women to graduate education. These efforts have been somewhat successful – currently the number of women participating in graduate education is greater than the number of men. However, women may not be getting the best jobs.

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6.10.3  Minorities and Graduate Education Most first-degree minority students are not attracted to doctoral studies. Asian-­ Americans are the main exception. However, the total number of minority students completing doctoral studies has increased over the past three decades.

6.11  Conclusions Has the golden age passed and is the US doctoral experience in decline? There is no simple answer  – it depends on what part of the system and what part of the US experience is being compared. The total number of US doctoral students and graduates is very high when compared to other countries. The study conditions for doctoral students seem to be improving – a greater proportion of those who begin doctoral studies complete their programs, and they, on average, take fewer years to complete than before. These improvements are encouraging, but they may reflect a lowering of standards rather than any improvement in the capabilities of students. From an international perspective, the US system of graduate education has much to admire. It is perhaps the largest system of graduation education offering opportunities for graduate education to several hundred thousand students and currently enabling approximately 60,000 students annually to earn a doctorate. Its system of course work enables students to complete their studies in a relatively efficient manner except for the dissertation, and even that final requirement is completed more rapidly than in most other systems. While the coursework may stifle the creativity of US graduate students, it enables the outside observer to know what a US graduate student knows. Historically the US graduate school has offered all of its courses in the traditional lecture and seminar formats. However, in recent years to accommodate the needs of working students, a minority of courses are now offered online and/or through the cohort format. The adoption of these new ways of offering courses is enabling students to complete their coursework at a faster clip. Employment prospects for recent degree recipients are said to be gloomy  – though data suggest it is more up and down. Fewer graduates of doctoral programs have job commitments at the time they graduate. Also compared to earlier times, a smaller fraction gets academic posts. For example, in engineering currently less than one out of five gets an academic post. And many who enter academia or indus-


W. K. Cummings and O. Bain

try fail to get secure employment. There are differences by field, gender, minority status, and temporary visa. We might say that, over the past 30 years or since the golden age, there have been many shifts in graduate education and the academic labor market (more are in S&E fields, the time to complete has decreased, individual debt is down, the proportion who are female, minorities, and foreign born is all up, the likelihood of getting a job commitment is down, the likelihood that job commitments will be in academia is down, and the likelihood that the job commitment will be secure is down). Young doctorates have largely adjusted to these changes. But many in the older generation have not yet accepted these changes – hence, despite many positive trends, we find a plethora of critical reports about graduate education and work in the emerging knowledge society. While the US higher education system has over 4700 IHE, only a small fraction of these institutions endeavor to offer graduate-level opportunities. Most of the faculty in these top institutions have or have had an active program of research and thus are able to expose students to the research process, be it either applied or basic in nature. This concentration of graduate education in a minority of institutions enables a reasonable level of quality control. From a disciplinary perspective, there are sharp contrasts in what is expected of professors as well as students. Students in the natural sciences seek to complete several pieces of highly focused basic research for their final research requirement. Students in the applied sciences tend to work in laboratories and to publish collaborative reports of their research, “co-authored” by several team members. In contrast those in the humanities seek to complete book-length dissertations. Thus from the insider’s perspective, US graduate education offers a diversity of experiences. Is it possible that there are “multiple cultures” steering the recent changes in the realities and myths surrounding American graduate education? One dimension of perspective is between the humanities and the sciences. A second dimension is between the junior faculty and the senior faculty.

References Berelsen, B. (1960). Graduate education in the U.S. New York: McGraw-Hill. Boorstin, D. J. (1958). The Americans: The colonial experience. New York: Random House. Bowen, W. G., & Rudenstine, N. C. (1992a). In pursuit of the Ph.D. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bowen, W. G., & Rudenstine, N. L. (1992b). Scale of graduate program. In Pursuit of the PhD (pp. 142–162). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bradburn, N. (1988, Spring). The ranking of universities in the United States and its effects on their achievement. Minerva, 26(1), 91–100. Bush, V. (1952). Science: The endless frontier. National. Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service. (2010). The path forward: The future of graduate education in the United States, Report from the Commission on the Future of Graduate Education in the United States. Princeton: Educational Testing Service.

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Council of Graduate Schools and Educational Testing Service. (2012). Pathways through graduate school and into careers. Report from the Commission on Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers. Princeton: Educational Testing Service. Cummings, W.  K., & Finkelstein, M.  J. (2012). Scholars in the changing American Academy. New York: Springer. Ehrenberg, R. G., & Mavros, P. G. (1995, Summer). Do doctoral students’ financial support patterns affect their times-to-degree and completion probabilities? Journal of Human Resources, 30(3), 581–609. Geiger, R. (1993). Research, graduate education, and the ecology of American universities: An interpretive history. In S.  Rothblatt & B.  Wittrock (Eds.), The European and American University since 1800 (pp. 234–259). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldberger, M.  L., et  al. (Eds.). (1995). Research-doctorate programs in the United States: Continuity and change (pp. 1–7). Washington, DC: National Academy Press 16–29, and 58–61. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Optimizing the nation’s investment in academic research. Washington, DC: NAP. National Science Board. (2014). Science and engineering indicators. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Nerad, M., & Evans, B. (Eds.). (2014). Globalization and its impacts on the quality of the Ph.D. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Schuster, J. (1995). Speculating about the labor market for academic humanists: Once more into the breach, Profession 95 (pp. 51–61). New York: MLA. Schuster, J., & Finkelstein, M. (2006). The American faculty: The restructuring of academic work and careers. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press. Securing the Next Generation of Scholars and Professionals, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. (1995). Reshaping the graduate education of scientists and engineers (pp. 1–9). Washington, DC: National Academy Press 19–45, 47–64. Universities Journal of Proceedings and Addresses of the Fourteenth Annual Conference. (1911). University of Pennsylvania. November 7 and 8. 1912. Published by the association (pp. 19–23). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Walters, E. (1965). Graduate education today. Washington, DC: American Council on Education. Woodbridge, F. J. E. (1911). The present status of the degree of doctor of philosophy in American universities. In The Association of American Universities Journal of proceedings and addresses of the fourteenth annual conference, University of Pennsylvania. November 7 and 8. 1912. Published by the Association (pp.  19–23). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. www.nsf. gov/statistics/doctorates

Chapter 7

Growth and Diversification of Doctoral Education in the United Kingdom Barbara M. Kehm, Richard P. J. Freeman, and William Locke

7.1  Introduction: Reforms of Doctoral Education In recent years, the need to reform doctoral education and training has been high on the policy agenda in many countries around the world. The goal to increase the production of doctoral degrees is closely related to ambitions of gaining a competitive advantage in the global knowledge economy. Accordingly, national governments in Europe but also the European Commission have encouraged universities to increase the number of doctoral degrees awarded, recruit the best talent internationally for research training and structure this phase of qualification in such a way that doctoral degree holders have the necessary competencies and skills to work in nonacademic as well as academic labour markets. This has led to a diversification of types of doctoral degrees and models of training. At the same time, quality issues in doctoral education and training are moving into the foreground of debates in order not to compromise the status of the degree. In this chapter, we will first present some statistical overviews about the growth in numbers also looking at the gender balance and at the growing proportion of international doctoral students in the United Kingdom. Second, we will discuss the drive for greater transparency and accountability by monitoring supervision, completion rates and skills development. Third, we will offer some observations concerning the changed policy arenas but also the changing contexts for doctoral training and supervision. Fourth, we will look at the diversification of types and models of doctoral training describing a number of different pathways to the doctorB. M. Kehm (*) School of Education, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK e-mail: [email protected] R. P. J. Freeman · W. Locke UCL Institute of Education, University College London, London, UK e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



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ate. Fifth, we focus on the increased attention to the student experience and student satisfaction as well as on the shift away from the thesis as a final product towards a greater concern with the development of the student. In the last part of the chapter before the conclusion, we will focus on the evolution of the notion of the “early career researcher”.

7.2  Statistical Overview There are 126 doctoral degree-granting institutions in the United Kingdom (99 in England), all of which also award taught degrees (bachelor’s and master’s) and almost all of which are universities. There are no research-only institutions that award doctorates. There are a total of 164 higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK public HE sector. In the last 50 years or so, there has been a dramatic rise in the demand for postgraduate study overall (including taught master’s programmes) in the United Kingdom (Table 7.1). Some of this is due to increasing interest from outside the United Kingdom and, in particular, the recruitment of students from outside the European Union (EU). Since 1981, there has been no cap on the tuition fees that UK HEIs have been able to charge non-EU students. Also during this period, the numbers of part-time postgraduates grew to exceed those studying full-time around the turn of the century but have since been overtaken by the latter. Nearly 20% of those currently studying at postgraduate level are registered for research degrees, and an increasing proportion of these are full-time (74% in 2014/2015, Table  7.2). The proportion of female doctoral students has also been steadily rising, from 45% in 2005/2006 to 47% in 2014/2015. In 2014/2015, nearly 23,000 doctorates were awarded in the United Kingdom, with two thirds (66%) being in science, medicine, engineering, technology and mathematics, 20% in social sciences and 14% in humanities and the arts (Table 7.3). Fifty-six percent of all those obtaining a doctorate in 2014/2015 were from the United Kingdom, 14% from another EU country and 30% from outside the EU (Table 7.4). Eighty-two percent had been full-time doctoral students and 18% part-­ time. UK doctoral students were more likely to have studied part-time than those from outside the United Kingdom, and of those from the United Kingdom, females were more likely to study part-time than males, whereas males were more likely to study full-time. Table 7.1  Growth in numbers of all postgraduate students by mode of study, 1961–2015 Date 1961 1994 1999/2000 2014/2015

Source Robbins (1963) Harris (1996) HESA (2000) HESA (2016)

Full-time 19,400 128,300 151,330 305,445

Part-time 6300 187,100 257,290 281,985

Total 25,700 315,400 408,620 587,439

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Table 7.2  Postgraduate research students 2010/2011–2014/2015 Full-time Part-time Female Male UK Other EU Non-EU All PGRb

2010/2011 74,790 29,070 48,345 55,510 60,840a 13,405a 29,010a 103,860

2011/2012 78,975 30,090 50,865 58,195 64,165a 13,880a 30,270a 109,065

2012/2013 79,680 29,445 51,130 57,985 63,710a 13,775a 30,940a 109,125

2013/2014 81,940 29,555 52,355 59,105 64,110 14,500 32,880 111,490

2014/2015 83,720 29,190 53,485 59,390 64,375 14,870 33,655 112,910

Data from HESA (2012, 2013, 2014) which do not match with totals given in HESA (2016) Totals include those for whom sex, mode of study and domicile were not known



Table 7.3 Doctorates obtained by subject of study, 2014/2015

Subject of study Number Medicine and dentistry 2260 Subjects allied to medicine 1340 Biological sciences 3395 Veterinary sciences 65 Agriculture and related subjects 200 Physical sciences 2845 Mathematical sciences 665 Computer sciences 910 Engineering and technology 2970 Architecture, building and planning 380 Social studies 1930 Law 430 Business and administrative studies 1150 215 Mass communications and documentation Languages 1215 Historical and philosophical studies 1310 Creative arts and design 645 Education 850 Total – all subjects 22,775

Proportion (%) 10 6 15 0.3 0.9 12 3 4 13 2 8 2 5 0.9 5 6 3 4 100.1a

Total percentage is not 100 due to rounding up and down (HESA 2016)


7.3  The Drive for Greater Transparency and Accountability The first UK PhD was awarded – by the University of Oxford – in 1919 (in typically idiosyncratic style, it was termed a DPhil, a usage that endures still). Within 5 years, there were 774 PhDs awarded and double that number in the following 5  years across more than a dozen universities (Simpson 1983). The two main waves of


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Table 7.4  Doctorates obtained by sex, domicile and mode of study, 2014/2015 Full-time UK Other EU Non-EU Total full-time Part-time UK Other EU Non-EU Total part-time




4695 1250 2600 8545

5110 1375 3700 10,185

9805 2625 6300 18,755

1605 215 225 2045

1440 225 295 1960

3050 440 520 4025

* Notes: Totals include those for whom sex, mode of study and domicile were not known (HESA 2016)

university expansion – the introduction of so-called “red brick” universities in the 1960s and the conversion of polytechnics to universities in 1992  – had minimal impact on the form of the PhD.  The PhD thesis could be seen as an “apprentice piece” produced by an apprentice to a master (who was able to produce a “masterpiece”) who supervised the process with little institutional input. However, in the early twenty-first century, as part of the new labour government’s focus on a skills agenda, the PhD began to change. The focus on the development of skills as part of PhD study was driven by Sir Gareth Robert’s SET for success: The Supply of People with Science, Engineering and Mathematics Skills (Roberts 2002). Roberts famously stated that “The product that the PhD researcher creates is not the thesis – vital though that is to their subject area through the creation of original knowledge – no, the product of their study is the development of themselves”. In addition, in 2001 the Joint Skills Statement was published by the UK Research Councils which set out seven areas that doctoral research students they funded would be expected to develop during their research training. To support this, the UK government provided approximately £20 million a year in ring-fenced funding (“Roberts Money”) to Research Councils UK (RCUK), universities and other research councilfunded institutions. The sums provided to each institution depended on the number of research council-funded students and research staff. Some institutions received over £1 million per year and some just a few hundred pounds (Hodge 2010). The funding was made available from 2004 to 2011 to support the career development and transferable skills training of researchers. Research council-­funded students are now expected to undertake the equivalent of 2 weeks of skills training per year, and most institutions require all their doctoral students to do the same. To support the necessary institutional changes, in 2002 RCUK funded CRAC (The Career Development Organisation) to create the UK GRAD Programme to support the academic sector to embed personal and professional skills development into research degree programmes (together with a similar body for those supporting research staff – UK HERD – Higher Education Research Development) alongside

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eight regional hubs. In addition to developing resources, UK GRAD supported residential “GRADschools” where students could meet other doctoral researchers from a range of disciplines and develop their professional and personal effectiveness and engage in career planning for academic and nonacademic careers. In 2008, UK GRAD and UK HERD were merged into a new organisation, Vitae (www.vitae., with financial support from RCUK. Since 2014, Vitae has been funded by universities and research institutions, both UK and international. In 2010, all the skills and attributes of the Joint Skills Statement were incorporated within the Researcher Development Statement (RDS) that sets out the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of effective and highly skilled researchers appropriate for a wide range of careers – making explicit the continuity expected between doctoral training and subsequent career development. The RDS has been implemented as the Vitae Researcher Development Framework ( with four top-level domains (A, knowledge and intellectual abilities; B, personal effectiveness; C, research governance and organisation; D, engagement, influence and impact) and 12 sub-domains (A1. knowledge base; A2. cognitive abilities; A3. creativity; B1. personal qualities; B2. self-management; B3. professional and career development; C1. professional conduct; C2. research management; C3. finance, funding and resources; D1. working with others; D2. communication and dissemination; D3. engagement and impact and 63 descriptors). The necessary involvement of others beyond the supervisor has led to what Chris Park calls an end to the “secret garden” of supervision (Park 2006). Instead the student is now seen as having networks of support, including librarians, career advisors and an emerging profession of “researcher developers” who were initially largely funded by Roberts Money but are now part of the established staff of most universities that have research students and/or research staff. The extra funding to support PhD students was accompanied by formal monitoring of progression and completion of doctoral degrees with the first official report finding that almost 7 years after registration, 71% of full-time students and 37% of part-time students had gained an MPhil, PhD or both (HEFCE 2005). The Higher Education Act 2004 that raised undergraduate fees also led to the creation of an independent body to deal with student complaints, which became the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA). The OIA deals with complaints from all students and notes that “As in previous years, … postgraduate students are disproportionately likely to complain”, accounting for 8% of the 1850 complaints submitted in 2015 (OIA 2015).

7.4  Changing Contexts and Policy Arenas Increasingly the production of new knowledge, often a task and an aspiration of doctoral candidates, is no longer regarded as a purely academic affair but as a strategic resource in the emerging knowledge societies. With this shift, doctoral education and training have become an object of institutional management, of national


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policy as well as support or funding programmes and of supranational incentives, regulations and measures for better integration into the existing knowledge and innovation systems. Furthermore, an increasingly international competition for best talent has begun (Kehm 2006: 67). At the same time, public criticism of doctoral education and training has become louder: too long, too many drop-outs, too specialised, questionable quality of supervision and lack of competences for nonacademic labour markets. The continental European answer to such criticism was “structured doctoral education”, i.e. the integration of this qualification phase into programmes, centres, schools or colleges, etc. and the addition of systematic curricular provision to offer theoretical, methodological and labour market-related competences to the research work on the dissertation. In the United Kingdom, the seven research councils have introduced programmes for managing their funding of doctoral study, including “Doctoral Training Centres” (DTCs)/“Centres for Doctoral Training” (CDT) and “Doctoral Training Partnerships” (DTPs). In contrast to conventional individualised supervision, each DTC/DTP is hosted by a UK university (or increasingly a consortium of universities and sometimes other partners such as museums or related industries), which delivers doctoral training programmes to a large number of PhD students divided into cohorts. The programmes can include linked master’s and PhD (1 + 3 years of full-time study), a combination where PhD study begins alongside master’s training (but not assessment (4 years of fulltime study)), PhD study alone (3 years of full-time study) and other models where specialised training is required, e.g. learning a language. The student’s registration fees are paid, the student receives a tax-free stipend with supplements for those studying in areas identified as strategic priorities and the student is able to apply for funding for conference attendance, overseas study, public engagement activities, etc. Each DTC/DTP focuses on a specific area of research and also provides transferable skills training. This development has currently three observable consequences: first, the dominant master-apprentice model is beginning to be phased out; second, the focus on a point in the framework of a rite of passage (i.e. defence and award of title) with an emphasis on the product “dissertation” is shifting to a focus on the process of doctoral education and training (its structures, content, quality) and on the development of the student towards becoming a researcher; third, access to doctoral education and the process of getting a doctorate are increasingly embedded in a dense layer of regulations, criteria, defined rights and obligations, procedures of evaluation and controls of success (Kehm 2006: 73). In the framework of the European Bologna Process, the phase of getting a doctoral degree has also become a much discussed topic. The reform initiators ­(ministers for higher education from 27, later 46, European countries) initially conceptualised doctoral education as a third cycle of studies in the framework of which seminars had to be taken and credit points earned. However, this conceptualisation as a third cycle of studies met with resistance from a number of European countries. Such a concept was only valid in those European countries in which doctoral candidates were traditionally regarded as students and had to pay fees for supervision and sem-

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inars (as in the United Kingdom) or in countries in which graduate studies follow a bachelor’s degree. Such a concept did not fit at all in those European countries (the Nordic countries and Germany among them) in which eligibility for doctoral education is only granted after a master’s degree and in which doctoral education and training take place predominantly in the framework of employment contracts as research assistants or junior academics and is understood as a first phase of an academic or research career (e.g. in Sweden). However, in the meantime, the structuring of doctoral degrees has found many supporters. Despite the fact that the organisational forms as well as the terminology (e.g. graduate college, graduate centre, doctoral training centre, doctoral programme) continue to proliferate, it is hoped in principle that structuring the doctoral phase will solve a number of problems (Kehm 2006). Also in the context of the European Bologna Process, new issues have been raised. First among these is the better preparation of doctoral candidates for nonacademic labour markets because a growing proportion of doctoral degree holders will not remain within a higher education institution or an extra-university research institute. A second issue is that academic staff are increasingly made responsible for the success of the doctoral candidates they supervise. In some European countries (e.g. in Spain), regulations have been introduced which define who can act as a supervisor (no longer every academic) and what kinds of formal qualifications and further criteria must be obtained and fulfilled in order to have the right to supervise doctoral candidates (e.g. some kind of further professional qualification in supervision or a minimum number of research projects and publications). This trend has an impact on the degree of selectivity in terms of the access and admission of doctoral candidates. Thirdly, there are issues pertaining to the meaning of “critical mass” in the framework of ongoing discussions about efficiency and effectiveness. This means that at quite a number of European universities, criteria are established to determine (a) how many academics a university should have in a given field or discipline in order to offer optimal conditions for doctoral candidates and (b) how many doctoral candidates given doctoral programme, doctoral school or doctoral college should have ideally (or minimum and maximum numbers). These numbers can differ from subject to subject, but we can observe concentration processes with consequences for smaller subjects and for a further institutional differentiation into research universities with the right to award doctoral degrees and teaching universities without this right (Kehm 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007). As mentioned before, doctoral education and training are no longer an exclusively academic affair but have become an object of institutional management as well as national and supranational policy-making. The inclusion in 2003 of doctoral education as a third level or cycle of a tiered structure of studies and degrees in the framework of the Bologna Process was, among other things, a consequence of the European Council’s and Parliament’s strategy in the year 2000 to create a common European Research Area (Lisbon Summit 2000). This strategy was supposed to develop Europe into the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world in


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order to be globally competitive. To achieve this, the number of doctoral degree holders was to be increased, and doctoral candidates were supposed to become better prepared for nonacademic labour markets. The descriptors for the doctoral level of the European Qualifications Framework clearly reflect this. Focusing on the national policy field, in most European higher education systems, we can observe an increasing number of initiatives and support programmes to establish a structure for doctoral education and training. The number of doctoral degrees awarded has become an indicator included in performance-based funding and budgeting in intra-institutional budget allocations. National policy, by and large, is in favour of increasing even further the number of doctoral degree holders because it is believed that a large number of people with high qualifications provide a competitive advantage for the economy on a global scale. The institutional policy field has also changed with regard to the indicator “doctoral degrees”. Almost all universities encourage their academic staff as well as faculties and departments to increase the number of doctoral degrees awarded and to reduce the “time to degree”. The number of doctoral degrees awarded is an important indicator when measuring research output as in the Research Excellence Framework, in the context of establishing a profile and reputation as a research-­ intensive institution, and in the framework of the general competition for reputation and funds. But there is a further intra-institutional dimension. Within universities, competition has also become stronger, and departments, research groups or individual academics who have been particularly successful in terms of doctoral education and training can negotiate for extra funds or other material advantages (e.g. additional human resources or better infrastructure). Traditionally a high number of successful doctoral students have contributed to the individual reputation of a given academic within their disciplinary community. This continues to be the case; however, it is reinforced by the contribution this makes to the reputation of the institution. In the United Kingdom, a special emphasis is placed on attracting full tuition fee-paying international doctoral students from outside the EU in order to generate institutional income. In the United Kingdom, the Doctoral Training Centres (DTCs) were initially designed to support interdisciplinary scientific research to solve global issues such as the ageing population and energy security. The model was subsequently adopted by the social sciences and humanities, and in the former, all of the research council (Economic and Social Research Council) funding for doctoral studentships has been allocated to the 21 accredited social science DTCs. In 2016, these were replaced by 14 larger Doctoral Training Partnerships with wider membership to include “pockets of excellence” at non-research-intensive universities. Through these means, the research councils seek to provide a steer to doctoral training, raise quality and stimulate innovation. The DTCs/DTPs are monitored and evaluated by the research councils, and this has informed the development of national postgraduate training strategies.

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7.5  Diversification of Types and Models of Doctoral Degrees If we look at the changes from a European perspective, we can see that the models of doctoral education and training, and with them their goals and purposes, have multiplied in recent years. This has progressed furthest in the United Kingdom. Mostly, we find an increasing differentiation between a research doctorate and a professional doctorate. Further research has yielded eight different models which will be introduced here briefly (Kehm 2009).

7.5.1  The Research Doctorate For the research doctorate, the dissertation is central and expected to be an original contribution to the knowledge base of a discipline or a research domain. Regardless of whether the degree (or title) is acquired within a structured programme including coursework, or in a master-apprentice relationship, the research doctorate as a rule is an entrance ticket to the academic profession which – by being responsible for the training  – also has a gatekeeper function. Using the example of six disciplines, Golde and Walker (2006) have characterised the main purpose of doctoral education in the research doctorate as developing students to be “stewards of the discipline”. The goal of such a training is a scientific or scholarly ideal type characterised as someone “who can imaginatively generate new knowledge, critically conserve valuable and useful ideas, and responsibly transform those understandings through writing, teaching and application. A steward is someone to whom the rigour, quality, and integrity of the field can be entrusted” (Golde and Walker 2006:5). This rather normative image contrasts starkly with the image generated by Slaughter and Leslie (2000) of the successful academic as “capitalist entrepreneur” who has recognised the demands and challenges of market orientation, competition and globalisation in the emerging knowledge societies and knows how to draw advantages from these developments.

7.5.2  The Professional Doctorate A number of European countries have picked up the British trend to explicitly distinguish between a research doctorate and a professional doctorate. The professional doctorate is not awarded in all disciplines but restricted to subjects like business administration, medicine and health care, education, engineering, social work, etc., i.e. to subjects which have a relatively demarcated field of professional practice. In professional doctorates, the title usually includes an indication of the professional field (e.g. DBA for Doctor of Business Administration or EdD for Doctor of Education). Quite a number of publications have appeared in recent years on the professional doctorate (Bourner et al. 2001; Park 2005; Green and Powell


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2005; Wildy et al. 2015). To some extent this seems to be related to the fact that, in academic circles, the professional doctorate is often looked down upon as a second-­ class doctorate so that pressure for legitimation increased. The professional doctorate is defined as a programme of advanced studies which  – apart from fulfilling university criteria for the award of the degree  – is geared towards satisfying a particular demand from a professional group outside the university and towards developing research skills needed within a professional context (Bourner et al. 2001: 219). In the United Kingdom, professional doctorates are typically taken up by people who are pursuing a professional career and are employed. Therefore, professional doctorates are frequently offered as part-time programmes and usually require several years of professional experience. Tuition fees are often covered fully, or in part, by the employer. The target group often wants to gain the degree in order to be eligible for promotion in their professional field. Consequently the research work carried out for the dissertation is regarded less as a contribution to the knowledge base of a discipline but more as a contribution to the development of a professional domain. The dissertation then has a focus on the generation of new but more applied knowledge (with data collection sometimes taking place in the student’s workplace), and the topic is often generated from the respective professional practice. In some areas, e.g. in engineering, the dissertation can also have the form of a larger project or series of smaller projects, which are carried out in the framework of actual professional practice.

7.5.3  The Taught Doctorate By definition, the taught doctorate consists of a substantial proportion of coursework. Typically there will be a fixed curriculum, and learning outcomes will be graded and weighted for the final grade. As in the research doctorate, students are supposed to contribute to the generation of new knowledge, but they do this in the framework of a research project, the results of which are summarised in a project report. The report is presented in the framework of an oral examination and is graded as well. In contrast to the two-phase doctorate in the United States (coursework first, then research and writing of thesis), the coursework of the taught doctorate is spread over the whole period of degree training (predominantly offered in the United Kingdom). The oral examination and the grade of the research project report are regarded as an equivalent to a dissertation and its defence.

7.5.4  PhD by Published Work The model of the PhD by published work has existed in Germany since the nineteenth century (where it is called a “cumulative dissertation”). From there it spread to other parts of the world, mainly the United States but also to Belgium, to the

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Netherlands and to Sweden. At a second glance, the British model of the PhD by published work differs to some extent from the German model of a “cumulative dissertation”. Both models are basically characterised by combining several articles which have appeared in peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journals into a book and providing them with a coherent framework. But while this option is open for many candidates in Germany, the PhD by published work is awarded in the United Kingdom almost exclusively to employees or alumni of the university awarding the degree (Green and Powell 2005:72). This model has frequently been criticised for its lack of consistency, differences in the definition of what constitutes a publication, its threat to other forms of doctoral education and the problems of providing adequate supervision. Furthermore, in this model of the doctorate, it is predominantly the product which is evaluated and graded and not the process of getting the degree itself. Therefore, most countries that provide this opportunity have regulations in place which determine the character and the content of the dissertation and possibly also the question whether and in which form a programme of additional studies has to be taken (Green and Powell 2005: 71).

7.5.5  The Practice-Based Doctorate The practice-based doctorate is unique to the British university system, although it is also awarded in Australia. It denotes the award of a doctoral degree in the arts and in design. The practice-based doctorate increased in importance with the integration of colleges of art into the universities in the 1990s in the United Kingdom. The degree is awarded as a result of coursework undertaken when students have been familiarised with theories and research methodologies and takes the form of a presentation of a work of art or a performance as a substitute for the dissertation. The presentation or performance is accompanied by a text in which the candidate explains how he or she has arrived at the result or product by applying research methods. This is regarded as generating new knowledge through practice. Successful candidates are also expected to demonstrate how their work of art is related to other works of art in the same field (by providing a theoretical, historical, critical or visual context) and to evaluate possible effects. In the field of composition, frequently not just one work is presented but a whole portfolio. In the oral examination, the work of art is presented or performed, and the candidate demonstrates on the basis of the accompanying text that she or he has sufficient knowledge and appropriate skills to independently generate new knowledge. The practice-based doctorate is contested in the United Kingdom because – compared to all other models of the doctorate – it shows the least proximity to the traditional notion of a dissertation. However, about half of all British universities offer such a doctorate (Green and Powell 2005:100ff.).


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7.5.6  The “New Route” Doctorate The model of the “new route PhD” (also called the integrated doctorate) was developed by ten British universities as a form of brand name in 2001 with the purpose of attracting international students. Since then, it has been offered by more than 30 British universities. The programme basically consists of three (integrated) elements: a taught component in the area of research methods and subject specialisation, another taught component in the area of transferable skills and the work on a dissertation (disciplinary or interdisciplinary). Admission can be granted immediately after a student has completed a bachelor’s degree. The taught components are frequently offered in the framework of related master’s programmes and accompany the whole 4 years envisaged for obtaining the degree. For the taught components, 240 credit points are awarded. Requirements for the dissertation are of a similar level to the research doctorate. However, in comparison to the research doctorate, the taught elements are more important and also prescribed in more detail with respect to the qualifications and competences to be acquired. After having finished all the coursework, there is also the option to write a master’s thesis instead of a doctoral dissertation and complete with a master degree. In effect, the new route PhD follows the American model of an integrated postgraduate education in which the master’s level and the doctoral level are combined in terms of the coursework to be done. However, the American model clearly separates the coursework phase from the writing of a thesis which follows each other in sequence and is not integrated. This American two-phase approach results in high drop-out rates after completion of the coursework or (compared to Europe) a longer time to complete the degree (between 6 and 9 years). Despite the fact that a fast track to the doctoral degree is possible in exceptional cases in many European countries, the European University Association (EUA) has recommended that the master’s degree should constitute the minimum requirement for access into doctoral programmes or the doctoral qualification phase (see EUA-CDE website: http://

7.5.7  Two Models of the Joint Doctorate The model of the joint doctorate is characteristic of doctoral programmes jointly offered by two or more universities which may be located in the same region, the same country or in different countries. A study carried out by EUA (2005) about changes in doctoral education in Europe included a survey among member institutions. Eighteen percent of responding universities confirmed that they offer joint doctorates. Leading countries in terms of the number of joint doctoral degree programmes are Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

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In the EUA study (EUA 2005: 28ff.), the joint doctorate is characterised as follows: –– A joint curriculum for the taught components which has been developed in close cooperation among the participating institutions; the doctoral students take courses at several universities. –– An agreement signed by all participating institutions clarifying funding issues and other matters (e.g. mobility, quality assurance). Certification of a joint doctorate is regulated in various ways: from award of the degree from the university at which the candidate is enrolled to a double degree on the basis of joint supervision (i.e. co-tutelle arrangements) and a joint degree. Joint doctorates are predominantly awarded by universities (or more exactly by faculties and departments) cooperating in transnational networks. The advantages for doctoral students are that, in most cases, periods of mobility are built into the programme, they often have more than one supervisor and access to additional experts in their field who are members of the network. However, actual practice may differ from this ideal type. Joint doctorates have a higher degree of internationalisation and more opportunities for mobility, but they are often not based on a joint curriculum of the participating partner institutions. A particular variant of the joint doctorate is the “European doctorate”. The idea and an informal initiative arose at the beginning of the 1990s during a meeting of the Confederation of European Rectors’ Conferences (an organisation which has merged with the former CRE to become the EUA). The “Doctor Europaeus”, as this was originally to be titled, is still contested, although there is a consensus about promotion and improvement of European cooperation in doctoral education and the mobility of doctoral students (or candidates). Currently another initiative with similar aims is being undertaken by the European Commission, which offers funding for joint doctoral programmes emerging from partner universities of an Erasmus Mundus Programme. The difficulty in putting this idea into practice is due to the fact that within Europe there is an increasing competition for the best talent among institutions and at the national level a more competitive research policy and innovation strategy. Thus, best talent is not easily “shared”. Nevertheless, the discussion about the “Doctor Europaeus” has been revived in the context of the Lisbon Strategy to create a European Research and Innovation Area (EUA 2005), and several Italian universities are currently offering it.

7.5.8  The Industrial Doctorate The industrial doctorate is mostly awarded in engineering fields and is a more applied degree. The research work of the candidate is carried out, for example, in the research and development department of a company and is oriented towards the solution of a particular problem or issue. The research is supervised by a senior


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engineer of the company, while taught elements, theory and methodology are supervised by a university academic. Research topics frequently emerge from work undertaken by the student in that company during an internship.

7.6  The Student Experience As with undergraduate education, there has been a growing interest in the experience of doctoral students of their supervision and the environment in which they are studying. Following the National Student Survey (NSS) of final year undergraduates launched in 2005, the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES, alongside the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey or PTES) was established in 2007. The biennial survey administered by the Higher Education Academy asks research students about their experiences of: • • • • •

Supervision Resources The research community Progress and assessment Skills and professional development

It also considers students’ motivations for undertaking their studies and collects demographic information. In 2015, 53,348 students responded from 123 institutions (Turner 2015). Unlike the NSS (but more like the National Survey of Student Engagement in North America), higher education institutions opt into the survey, and the results are not published but available to participating institutions in an anonymised format as well as a summary report (e.g. Turner 2015). Institutions use the PRES results to benchmark their provision against others in the sector. Results can be broken down by discipline, gender, mode of study and home/other EU/non-EU student domiciles, with the aim of targeted improvements where they are most needed. In the United Kingdom, the results are used to inform sector bodies and policy-makers about what students can expect across the country. Currently, there is a consultation on possible changes to the PRES survey, covering the relevance for Doctoral Training Centres and professional doctorates, and whether the results should be fully published.

7.7  The Notion of “Early Career Researcher” As the achievement of a doctorate has become increasingly necessary, but no longer sufficient, for an academic career, the notion of the “early career researcher” has developed to describe that period of transition between doctoral study and an established and independent position in the profession. Many of the UK research councils have set criteria for funding schemes aimed at “early career researchers” that

7  Growth and Diversification of Doctoral Education in the United Kingdom


limit the number of years after the doctoral award that a researcher can apply, for example, usually 4 years in the case of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). However, there is a realisation that individuals take different routes in their transition to independence, so the ESRC now refers to years of “active post-doctoral experience”. In calculating that “active” experience, the ESRC makes allowance for periods where the applicant has interrupted their career for family, health or other personal reasons as well as those returning to research following a career break. One research council, the Medical Research Council, has recently removed the eligibility criteria based on years of post-doctoral experience for its Fellowships scheme and New Investigator grants. The criteria now refer to the skills and experience that applicants are required to demonstrate in applying for these funds in order to be competitive. This is likely to help those caught in a succession of fixed-term post-doctoral positions. This categorisation of “early career researcher” is also being widened to include those who have graduated into nonacademic employment and who may move into academia at some later point in their career.

7.8  Conclusions The proliferation of types and models of doctoral education and training described above is an indicator of new forms of functional differentiation in doctoral education and training resulting from an increased number of doctoral candidates and their more diverse interests and motives. Doctoral education no longer serves exclusively the reproduction of the academic profession but has also become a qualification for knowledge-intensive nonacademic sectors of the economy and for steps up the professional career ladder. However, these developments have also triggered some criticism (see overview in Park 2005: 201). The four main points of criticism can be summarised as follows: • Other models than the research doctorate tend to be regarded as second-class doctorates. The quality of the dissertation and the quality of the process of getting the degree are often ranked lower than the research doctorate. • External examiners have noted  – in particular, with respect to practice-based doctorates – a lack of intellectual depth, of cohesion, of discussing existing literature, of originality and of generalisable results of the work. In addition, they have criticised methodological weaknesses and bad presentation. • Bourner et al. (2001) criticised the new types of doctorates as often lacking clarity and coherence. • Some experts have also voiced concerns about the growing proliferation of titles and the increasing differentiation of types and models. Supporters of the growing differentiation of doctoral models have argued that it reflects the growing heterogeneity of reasons for obtaining a doctorate and these should be taken into account when shaping this phase of qualification.


B. M. Kehm et al.

In drawing this chapter to a close, we would make one further observation. In continental Europe, as well as in many other countries around the world with well-­ established and mature higher education systems, the doctorate is no longer the entrance qualification to an academic career. It is a necessary but insufficient condition, and decisions as well as selection processes have shifted into the “post-doc” phase. However, a doctoral degree nowadays tends to qualify the holder for a rather wider range of jobs as a knowledge worker in nonacademic labour markets. Certainly, doctoral candidates today are no longer exclusively trained to become “stewards of their discipline” (Golde and Walker 2006) as was the case until the end of the 1980s and in some European countries until well into the 1990s. The extended policy field for doctoral education and training has contributed to the fact that doctoral candidates today need to acquire a considerably broader set of skills and competences. Doctoral degree holders are not only in demand in the knowledge-intensive sectors of the economy but in other fields, e.g. services, public administration, media, etc., as well. Having observed this, however, two questions remain which still need further research and debate. The first is who within the universities has the knowledge and skills to convey this extended skills set? The second is whether academic careers in Europe, with their extended periods of uncertainty and even precarity, continue to remain sufficiently attractive to attract the best and the brightest.

References Bourner, T., Bowden, R., & Laing, S. (2001). Professional doctorates in England. Studies in Higher Education, 26(1), 65–83. EUA. (2005). Doctoral programmes for the European Knowledge Society. Brussels. URL: http:// Accessed 1 Nov 2005. Golde, C.  M., & Walker, G.  E. (Eds.). (2006). Envisioning the future of doctoral education. Preparing stewards of the discipline. Carnegie essays on the doctorate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Green, H., & Powell, S. (2005). Doctoral education in contemporary higher education. Maidenhead/ New York: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press. Harris, M. (1996). Review of postgraduate education. Bristol: Higher Education Funding Council for England. HEFCE. (2005). PhD research degrees: Entry and completion. Accessed 26 July 2016. HESA. (2000). Students in higher education. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. HESA. (2012). Students in higher education. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. HESA. (2013). Students in higher education. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. HESA. (2014). Students in higher education. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. HESA. (2016). Students in higher education. Cheltenham: Higher Education Statistics Agency. Hodge, A. (2010). Review of progress in implementing the recommendations of Sir Gareth Roberts, regarding employability and career development of PhD students and research staff. Accessed at: Accessed 26 July 2016.

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Kehm, B. M. (2004). Developing doctoral degrees and qualifications in Europe. Good practice and issues of concern. In J. Sadlak (Ed.), Doctoral studies and qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and prospects (pp. 279–298). Bucarest: UNESCO-CEPES. Kehm, B. M. (2005, August). Forces and forms of change. Doctoral Education in Germany within the European Framework. Paper presented at the international conference on “Forces and Forms of Change in Doctoral Education Internationally” organised by CIRGE, University of Washington. Unpublished manuscript. Kehm, B. M. (2006). Doctoral education in Europe and North America: A comparative analysis. In U. Teichler (Ed.), The formative years of scholars (pp. 67–78). London: Portland Press. Kehm, B.  M. (2007). Quo Vadis doctoral education? New European approaches in the context of global changes. European Journal of Education, 42, 307–319. https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1465-3435.2007.00308.x. Kehm, B.  M. (2009). New forms of doctoral education in the European higher education area. In B.  M. Kehm, J.  Huisman, & B.  Stensaker (Eds.), The European higher education area: Perspectives on a moving target (pp. S. 223–S. 241). Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers. Lisbon Summit. (2000). Acceded at: CONCLUSIONS_Lissabon.pdf. Accessed 17 June 2007. OIA. (2015). Annual report 2015. Accessed at: Accessed 26 July 2016. Park, C. (2005). New variant PhD: The changing nature of the doctorate in the UK. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 27(2), 189–207. Park, C. (2006). The end of the secret garden: reframing postgraduate supervision. Accessed at: Accessed 26 July 2016. Robbins, L. (1963). Higher education: Report of the committee appointed by the Prime Minister under the Chairmanship of Lord Robbins 1961–63, Cmnd. 2154. London: HMSO. Roberts, G. (2002). SET for success: The supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills – the report of sir Gareth Roberts’ review. London: HM Treasury. Simpson, R. (1983). How the PhD came to Britain. A century of struggle for postgraduate education. Guildford: Society for Research in to Higher Education. Slaughter, S. A., & Leslie, L. L. (2000). Academic capitalism: Politics, policies and the entrepreneurial university. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Turner, G. (2015). PRES 2015: The research student journey. Higher Education Academy. Accessed at: Accessed 26 July 2016. Wildy, H., Peden, S., & Chan, K. (2015). The rise of professional doctorates: Case studies of thedoctorate in education in China, Iceland and Australia. Studies in Higher Education, 40(5), 761–774.

Chapter 8

Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia Peter James Bentley and V. Lynn Meek

8.1  Introduction In policy terms, Australian higher degree research (HDR) training (PhD and, to a much lesser extent, research masters) has increased considerably in political importance over the last few years. As Australia shifts from an economy largely driven by mineral wealth and manufacturing to one based on services, ideas and knowledge, the role of research and research training has gained prominence in most debates on the economic future of the nation. This is not to belittle the social and cultural relevance of doctoral training but, at least in terms of rhetoric, currently the emphasis is on the contribution of Australian research and HDR graduates to growing the nation’s human capital for building an innovative economy and society. The current government’s 2015 National Innovation and Science Agenda, for example, encourages “our best and brightest minds to work together to find solutions to real world problems and to create jobs and growth” and states that “industry-research collaboration is a key factor to more profitable, sustainable and export-focused industries” (Australian Government 2015a). Australian governments of all political persuasions

P. J. Bentley (*) LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia Innovative Research Universites, Melbourne, Australia e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] V. L. Meek LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

appear to recognise the need for highly trained knowledge workers to fuel the development of an innovative Australian economy capable of successfully competing in a global knowledge network. While once doctoral training may have been primarily for preparing candidates for academic careers within universities, this is now more of a minor concern, at least in terms of graduate destinations. In 2011, only 37% of PhDs worked in tertiary education, with a further 14% in professional science roles (ABS 2011). Higher education remains the main sector of employment for recent HDR graduates but still only employs a minority of recent graduates in full-time employment (41% in 2014) (GCA 2015). While this proportion has been stable since at least 2009, this is partly due to a steady decline in full-time employment outcomes for HDR graduates (GCA 2016). In 2014, 76% of recent HDR graduates available for full-time employment were in full-time employment approximately 6 months after graduation, down from 86% in 2009. In 2014, 9% of recent HDR graduates were not working but seeking full-time employment 6  months after graduation, up from 4% in 2009. A further 15% were underemployed in 2014 (in part-time and seeking full-­ time employment), up from 9% in 2009. As the number of PhDs awarded has increased at a greater rate than the growth in academic employment, the PhD has become a prerequisite for an academic career beyond the teaching-only casual positions in the bottom academic ranks. There has been a good deal of speculation that, as large numbers of Australian academics are set to retire in the near future, replacement opportunities for recent PhD graduates may increase dramatically (Hugo and Morriss 2010). However, few senior academics show any concrete intentions of retiring in the near future (see Bentley 2013). A more detailed analysis of the employment opportunities is provided later in the chapter (see Sect. 1.5). Relatively few PhD graduates are unemployed, but with more than half of all PhDs not working in education or research positions, doctoral training needs to be relevant to the employment prospects and opportunities available to graduates. Due to the recognition of the contribution of doctoral training to Australia’s innovation framework and economic wellbeing, recently, there has been much discussion both within universities and government on reforming the Australian approach to HDR training to make it more relevant to the employment needs of the nation. Moreover, the attractiveness of the PhD to Australian students appears to have waned in recent years. Despite increasing demand for highly skilled research workers, “Australia’s key source of research workforce supply is showing signs of strain. Growth in domestic doctorate by research commencements has stalled since 2004 and both domestic masters by research commencements and completions have undergone a steady decline over the last decade” (DIISR 2011a: 13). Commencing domestic doctoral candidates rose from 6737 students in 2010 to a peak of 7325 candidates in 2013 and then dropped back to 7158 candidates in 2015 (an increase of about 6% on 2010). Over the same period, the number of commencing international doctoral candidates increased more or less steadily from 3,777 students in 2010 to 4,534 in 2015 (an increase of about 20 per cent) (Australian Government, 2016a). It is against this backdrop of calls for reform of the Australian approach to HDR training that this chapter is written. Following this introduction, the chapter p­ rovides

8  Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia


an overview of the Australian context and the development of its higher education system. Before turning to a more detailed analysis of the development of doctoral training in Australia, a brief description of the Australian research system is provided, leading into an account of the employment destinations of PhD graduates. The chapter concludes with a discussion of key issues and potential reforms to HDR training in Australia.

8.2  The Australian Context Australia is a constitutional democracy consisting of a federation of six states and two territories. In the Australian federal system, the powers of the Commonwealth are limited to areas deemed to be of national importance. Whereas in terms of landmass, Australia is the sixth largest country in the world – approximately the same size as continental United States – it has a population of only 24 million people. Most of the nation’s population is highly urbanised, living in large cities located along the coastline, mostly in the eastern part of the nation. With about 40% of the workforce holding a tertiary qualification, Australia has one of the most highly educated workforces in the world (Norton and Cakitaki 2016). Since 1997, Australia has been a net exporter of R&D services, while education services have been an important export commodity for a somewhat longer period of time (Meek et al. 2010). Education services are the third largest export commodity behind iron ore and coal, worth $19.7 billion in 2015 (Deloitte Access Economics 2016: 1). PhD education in Australia is part and parcel of the nation’s overall research training system. As indicated above, a diminishing proportion of research training takes place at the masters level, and in recent years the professional doctorate has developed with a supposedly somewhat alternative focus from the PhD’s emphasis on knowledge creation and the purity of research. So far, the Australian professional doctorate has been slow to attract a significant number of candidates. The “classical” PhD degree dominates in Australia and is the focus of attention in this chapter.

8.2.1  The Australian Higher Education System The Australian higher education sector consists of 39 public universities (many of which are quite large by international standards with enrolments in excess of 50,000 students), 2 small private universities, 1 specialist university (University of Divinity), 2 quite small overseas universities and 127 small, non-self-accrediting specialist higher education providers both public and private. While there are a large number of nonuniversity higher education providers, they account for only around 8% of total enrolments. The title “university” is a regulated term with research as a legally defining characteristic of an Australian university. There are over 1 million domestic students, and nearly 363,298 international students enrolled in higher education institutions in Australia. The domestic student


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Fig. 8.1  Enrolment share by level of study, 1984–2014. (Source: DET, various years in Norton and Cakitaki 2016: 21)

higher education participation rate for 17–19-year-olds is now more than 30%. Over 55% of students are female, and around 27% are studying at the postgraduate level. In 2015, of the total of 386,915 students studying at the postgraduate level (including foreign students), 57,130 students (15%) were enrolled in a doctorate by research, and 8422 students (2%) were enrolled in a masters by research. In 2014, 8118 students completed their PhDs, and 1461 masters by research students complete their degrees as well. The number of research students has increased over the years, but their share of total students has remained stable at about 5% for many decades (Fig. 8.1). Australian universities are self-accrediting institutions with a strong emphasis on internationalisation. Institutions are able to enrol as many international students as they wish (including international PhD students) and set their own tuition fees for these students. Australia has around 6.4% of the world’s total of foreign students in tertiary education and is the third largest in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom. Australia ranks first in the world in terms of the proportion of all higher education students who are foreign (OECD 2016: 1). Australian domestic students also pay tuition fees (initially called the Higher Education Contribution Scheme or HECS), the level of which is set by government. Government pays the tuition fees on behalf of the students and collects the fees through the tax system once students/graduates earn more than roughly median full-­ time earnings ($55,000  in 2016). The HECS-type student tuition schemes are mainly relevant at the undergraduate and coursework masters level. The Commonwealth government pays the tuition fees of domestic HDR students through what was initially termed HECS exemption scholarships (see Sect. 8.4.3 for more detail on HDR funding).

8  Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia


Since the early 1990s, the Australian higher education sector has experienced profound change. This change has been driven by – amongst other things, massification – the increase in student numbers that accelerated throughout the 1980s and 1990s, flattened somewhat in the 2000s and again raced ahead from 2009 with the introduction of the so-called demand-driven system. The demand-driven system (the uncapping of domestic government-supported undergraduate places) was recommended by the 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education (Bradley et  al. 2008). It began its implementation in 2009 and became fully operational from 2012. While the number of enrolments was fully uncapped from 2012, government has maintained control over financial allocations per enrolment with amounts differing according to broad fields of study. Nonetheless, due to the dramatic increase in student numbers following the uncapping of places, pressure has been placed on the federal budget, and various policy options as to how to fund the large increase in student numbers are being proposed – one so far rejected is to also allow universities to individually set fees as well as numbers for domestic undergraduate places. However, due to various political factors, this and several other higher education policies are in “limbo”, and any progress before 2017 at the earliest is unlikely. While the introduction of the demand-driven system directly impacts domestic undergraduate enrolments, the financial consequences have ramifications for the higher education system as a whole, with government proposing the introduction of tuition fees for domestic PhD candidates (who, as indicated above, so far do not pay tuition fees). In 2015 there were about 53,000 academics employed on permanent or contract conditions by Australian universities, most of whom were in teaching and research or research only positions (Australian Government, 2016b). The PhD (or equivalent) is now more or less a prerequisite for employment in Australian universities. But this was not the case until relatively recently. While in 2015 about 70% of academic staff held PhDs, with many of the others enrolled in a PhD program, less than half of all academics held a PhD degree in 1991 (Norton and Cakitaki 2016: 34). Generally, according to legal standards imposed by government, academic staff must themselves hold a PhD degree (or equivalent) in order to supervise PhD candidates (see Sect. 8.4.4 on regulation).

8.3  The Australian Research System While there is a good deal of debate about the importance of the teaching/research nexus at the undergraduate level, there is no doubt that doctoral training requires a robust research system consisting of internationally respected scientists and scholars. The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) – the national policy regulating the Australian education and training system – clearly states that “research is the defining characteristic of all Doctoral Degree qualifications. The research Doctoral Degree (typically referred to as a Doctor of Philosophy) makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge” (AQF Council 2013: 63).


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Table 8.1  Quality of Australian research publications – OECD comparisons Indicators Share of world publications Relative citation impact Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications, all disciplines Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications, natural science and engineering Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications, social science and humanities Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications attributed to international collaboration, all disciplines Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications attributed to international collaboration, natural science and engineering Share of world’s top 1% highly cited publications attributed to international collaboration, social science and humanities

Aus score % 3.71 1.33 6.90

OECD average 3.02 1.21 4.80

Aus rank (37 OECD countries) 10th 14th 7th
















Source: DIIS (2015: 127–28)

Australia has a well-developed but comparatively small science base, with much of its R&D effort concentrated in the public sector. Taking into account the size of the nation, Australia’s contribution to world science is impressive. Australia contributes about 3.7% of the world’s publications, though the nation’s population is only 24 million people. Amongst OECD countries, Australia also performs well on a number of other indicators (Table 8.1). About 18% of Australian publications are in the top 10% of journals most cited worldwide (Scopus data accessed via SciVal 2016), and “in 2014, Australian research publications were 33 per cent more likely to be cited internationally than publications in their discipline and year from other countries” (Norton and Cakitaki 2016: 71). Australian scientists actively participate in international research networks, with nearly 50% of Australian researchers co-authoring publications with one or more international colleagues (Scopus data accessed via SciVal 2016). Increasingly, in Australia as elsewhere, research and research training are being linked with innovation and economic growth. A recent government report states that “HDR graduates can make a significant contribution to Australian industries, either as highly skilled employees of the R&D workforce or entrepreneurs in their own right” (DE 2014: 7). The report goes on to argue that “research and development is an important driver of innovation and requires a highly skilled workforce that is able to carry out effective research and translate discoveries into a new product, process or service” (ibid.). An earlier government report emphasising the importance of researcher and research student collaboration between universities and business and industry claimed that such collaborations produce “new-to-the-country” and “new-­ to-­the-world” innovations (DITR 2006). In December 2015, as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian government announced the develop-

8  Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia


ment of a national engagement and impact assessment and asked the Australian Research Council “to examine how universities are translating their research into economic, social and other benefits and incentivise greater collaboration between universities, industry and other end-users of research” (ARC 2016).” Over the years, several government reports as well as academic commentators have criticised Australia’s seemingly poor performance in relation to higher education’s engagement with industry and business. Although the methodology on which university and business/industry collaborative comparisons are based is sometimes questioned, the consistently poor results for Australia with respect to innovation and higher education’s engagement with business/industry raise important policy questions. Australia’s relatively poor collaboration between higher education and business/industry is due in part to the structural nature of Australian industry where much of the large enterprises are foreign owned and conduct much of their R&D offshore (there are more than 21,000 foreign companies registered in Australia). But there is debate that all sectors, universities and business/industry, should be doing more to make Australia the clever, innovative country upon which the future wellbeing of the nation will be based. The nature of HDR training plays a key role in such debates. As one government report put it: Australia has an above the OECD average number of researchers for every thousand people in our workforce and Australia’s research workforce is publishing at a rate and quality comparable to the top OECD countries. Australia also enjoys a positive reputation globally as a world-class research destination for researchers and research students in areas of research strength. It has less demonstrated capability in the translation of research to new products and processes and in collaborations between the university and industry sectors. (DIISR 2011b: 4)

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016 despite world-class education and universities, Australia “continues to lag behind most advanced economies in innovation … With global commodity prices set to remain low for the foreseeable future, along with the slowdown in China, the country must diversify further and move up the value chain” (World Economic Forum 2016: para 18). Later in the chapter, the repositioning of doctoral training in terms of strengthening research links with business and industry will be examined in more detail (see Sect. 8.6). Despite claims that Australia needs to lift its act in terms of the contribution of research to innovation and the economy, there is evidence that Australian research has already substantially moved in this direction. For example, pure basic research – the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake  – is theoretically the basis of the Australian PhD. But spending on pure basic research as a proportion of spending on all forms of research has been in steady decline for more than 20 years, from around 40% in 1992 to 23% in 2014. In contrast, spending on applied research has steadily increased over the same period, an indicator of the utilitarian value being placed on research and research training (Fig. 8.2). Of course, spending in real terms increased over the 22-year period for all forms of university research, from about $1.7 billion in 1992 to $10.15 billion in 2014.


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Fig. 8.2  Higher education research expenditure by type of research, 1992–2014. (Source: ABS data accessed 2016b)

8.4  Overview of the Australian Research Training System The Australian approach to PhD training, similar to that in the United Kingdom, is based on what has been called the “apprenticeship model”, where students conduct a research project under the supervision of a member of academic staff, with little or no formal coursework involved. The award of the Australian PhD only requires the successful examination of the thesis, not the assessment of the student as such. The normal length of study for the doctoral degree is between 3 and 4 years, but many take longer. The thesis is examined by two or three disciplinary experts external to the university in which the candidate is enrolled. Mainly due to cost, oral examination of the thesis was abandoned some time ago. The traditional entry pathway into the PhD has been the completion of a 3-year undergraduate bachelor degree followed by a 1-year specialised honours degree, involving both coursework and a research dissertation. Although honours degree is “the most accepted route to a Research Doctorate, this is changing, with an increasing number of candidates undertaking postgraduate education or entering the workforce prior to embarking on HDR training” (ACOLA 2016: 17).

8.4.1  History Before the Second World War, the then six universities located in each state capital enrolled about 14,000 students from a population of 7 million. The emphasis was on training and credentialism for the professions and on scholarship over research. Little research took place in the universities, and Australian academics who were interested in undertaking doctoral training had to study in the United Kingdom or

8  Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia


the United States (Dobson 2012). The PhD was not introduced into Australian universities until after the Second World War. During the Second World War, there was an unprecedented injection of federal funds into the universities for manpower training and other purposes geared to the war effort. Even more importantly, there was a heightened awareness amongst politicians and the community of the social value of science and technology. Shortly after the war, the Commonwealth government created the Australian National University to further research and postgraduate study (Meek 2000). The PhD was first introduced at the University of Melbourne in 1945 and, as Forsyth (2014: 27) notes, “scholarly esteem began to move away from ‘mastery’ of disciplines towards the discovery of new knowledge”. But the PhD with its emphasis on original research was not immediately embraced by the entire academic establishment of the time. In fact, early on there was a reverse snobbery against the PhD in some quarters: “It was in the humanities that the old ways were defended the longest … the Arts Faculty at Sydney University refused to offer the ‘awful American’ PhD until the 1950s” (ibid.). Ironically, the first Australian PhD (in French literature) was awarded to a female arts candidate in 1948 at the University of Melbourne. But the PhD was initially introduced to strengthen scientific research, and 20  years later, 60% of all PhDs awarded were in the sciences. As the PhD became entrenched in other disciplines, by 2009 only around 30% of PhDs awarded were to science candidates, with the number of PhD graduates between 1948 and 2009 being 94,423 (Dobson 2012; and see Dale 1997; Evans et al. 2003). The number of PhDs awarded to female candidates did not reach parity with male candidates until 2009. After that date the annual proportion of PhDs awarded to females exceeded 50%.

8.4.2  HDR Student Profile As mentioned above, the number of research students enrolled in Australian universities as a proportion of all higher education student enrolments has remained flat at around 5% over many years. But, of course, the actual number of research students has increased substantially in line with overall increases in student enrolment (see Fig. 8.3). In 2015, there were a total of 65,552 research students, including international students. Of the total number of doctoral candidates, about one-third (19,395) were international students (Table 8.2). The proportion of international doctoral candidates is high in comparison to the OECD average of about one-quarter of students enrolled at the doctoral level being international students (OECD 2016: 1). In the context of competition for the best and brightest minds in the global knowledge economy, Australia performs better than some of its competitor nations, such as the United States, Canada and Sweden, in terms of the proportion of doctoral candidates who are international (see Fig. 8.4). Visa regulations allow international PhD graduates to work in Australia in academia


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Fig. 8.3  HDR enrolments, 1979–2014. (Source: DET, various years in Norton and Cakitaki 2016: 38) Table 8.2  HDR enrolments 2015 Domestic doctorate 37,735

Domestic research masters 7050

International doctorate 19,395

International research masters 1372

Total 65,552

Source: Australian Government 2016a

Fig. 8.4  International doctoral candidates as a proportion of all doctoral candidates. (Source: OECD 2015: 363)

8  Development and Future Directions of Higher Degree Research Training in Australia


Table 8.3  Domestic and international doctoral degree enrolments by broad field of education 2015 Field of study Natural and physical sciences Information technology Engineering and related technologies Architecture and building Agriculture and related studies Health Education Management and commerce Society and culture Creative arts Total

Domestic 7242 1048 3617 610 1260 6760 2942 2269 9919 2068 37,735

% of total 19.2 2.8 9.6 1.6 3.3 17.9 7.8 6.0 26.3 5.5 100.0

International 5000 1169 4418 236 1206 2033 869 1591 2592 281 19,395

% of total 26.7 6.0 22.7 1.2 6.2 10.4 4.5 8.2 13.3 1.5 100.0

Source: Australian Government (2016a)

or industry for a period of up to 4  years, after which more permanent residency status is necessary (DIBP 2016). While the great majority of HDR students are enrolled in universities, not an insignificant number study at other research organisations. For example, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO – the largest public research organisation outside the universities) averages around 800 PhD candidates per  annum and, in 2010, 1027 full-time equivalent candidates were supervised within Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs – a program established in 1990 to bring researchers together in the public and private sectors). The oldest Australian medical research organisation, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, hosts about 130 PhD candidates per annum (DE 2014: 46). At the undergraduate level, the majority of international students enrol in business management and commerce-related courses. However, in terms of HDR enrolments, and in accord with OECD trends (OECD 2016), the most popular courses for international students are in the science, technology and engineering fields. In fact, more international doctoral candidates are enrolled in engineering and related technologies than domestic students. Across OECD countries, the majority (59%) of doctoral students study science, engineering or agriculture (OECD 2016: 2). The most popular fields of study for Australian domestic doctoral candidates are society and culture followed by natural and physical sciences and health (see Table 8.3). In terms of age, domestic HDR candidates studying at Australian universities are relatively mature. About two-thirds of domestic doctoral candidates are 30 years of age or older, and a sizable number are 50 years of age or older. Mature-age students undertaking PhD study more for interest than career prospects has long been a feature of the Australian system. In comparison, international HDR students are considerably younger than their Australian colleagues, with nearly 50% of international doctoral candidates under the age of 30 years and 89% under the age of 40 years (see Table 8.4).


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Table 8.4  Age profile of domestic and international doctoral candidates 2015 Age group Under 30 30–39 40–49 50–59 60 and over Total

Domestic 13,062 11,030 6815 4804 2024 37,735

% of total 34.6 29.3 18.0 12.7 5.4 100.0

International 9444 7809 1790 301 51 19,395

% of total 48.7 40.3 9.2 1.5 0.3 100.0

Source: Australian Government (2016a)

8.4.3  HDR Student Funding The ways in which research training is funded in Australia are somewhat complicated. Universities do not charge domestic research masters and PhD student tuition fees. There is a mix of fee and non-fee arrangements amongst the universities with respect to domestic coursework masters. The universities are able to choose whether or not to charge fees for international students enrolled in research degrees. Government funds university research and research training through various schemes. The two main research agencies funding individual and/or group projects are the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). A component of these grants may include scholarships for PhD candidates. The research block grants (RBG) support indirect costs of research and research training. The research training component consists of the Research Training Scheme (RTS), Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) and the International Postgraduate Research Scheme (IPRS). The RTS is the largest single component of the RBG absorbing $690 million of a total of about $1.81 billion RBG allocation in 2016. In the same year, the APA program will cost about $284 million and the IPRS about $23 million (Australian Government 2016c). The RTS provides block grants on an annual basis to universities to support research undertaken by doctoral and research masters degree students. Funding under the RTS is performance driven, based on an individual university’s previous RTS payments and a performance index combining HDR student completions weighted at 50%, research income from competitive grants weighted at 40% and research publications weighed at 10%. Student completions are also weighted according to high-cost (science-based) and low-cost fields of study. Individual universities determine how the money received from the RTS will be allocated internally. It has been demonstrated that the RTS does not cover the full cost of research training, and on average universities are funding 27% of the cost of a full-time research student from other sources, such as international student fees (Deloitte Access Economics 2011). APAs and the IPRS are tax-free merit-based scholarships, funded by government but administered by individual universities and are available for 2  years for a research masters degree or 3 years for a doctoral degree, with the possibility of a 6-month extension. Scholarships are also allocated to individual universities on a

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competitive basis and allocated internally as well on a competitive basis. About 36% of domestic HDR students receive an APA, the annual stipend which has risen from $1400  in 1959 to $26,288  in 2016. Sector wide, the number of APAs has increased from 1561 in 2006 to 3497 in 2016. Over the same period, the number of IPRS scholarships remained constant at 330 annually. This is despite the fact that between 2001 and 2016, the number of international HDR candidates more than tripled, from 6249 to 20,384  in 2014 (ACOLA 2016: 3). Universities Australia (2015a, b: 30) argues that, while the number of RTS students has increased over the last decade, funding per student has declined in real terms from around $36,000 in 2003 to about $26,000 in 2014. Funding research and research training remains a hotly debated political issue in Australia. It is interesting to note that the 1999 government report Knowledge and Innovation that led to the creation of the current RTS stated that a major objective is to “ensure the relevance of research degree programmes to labour market requirements” (Kemp 1999: 18). Jobs and employment were again the preoccupation of government with their 2015 report Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements recommending a more streamlined Research Support Program effective from 2017. The RS program will incorporate new funding formulas that encourage greater university engagement with industry. This includes removing the number of publications from block grant funding formulas, as well as treating all competitive grant income equally, rather than weighing income earned from academic research funding agencies (e.g. ARC and NHMRC) greater than industry income in these formulas. APAs will be incorporated into the RS program and universities given greater discretion over the number and level of scholarships awarded.

8.4.4  Regulation Although universities are self-accrediting institutions, Australia has a national regulatory and quality agency for higher education – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). TEQSA was established by the Australian government to monitor quality and regulate university and nonuniversity higher education providers against a set of standards developed by the independent Higher Education Standards Panel (HESP). HESP is a legislative advisory body with responsibility related to the standards for delivery of Australian higher education. The section on research training of the 2015 Threshold Standards currently enforced is fairly prescriptive in terms of the policies institutions must have in place if they are to admit HDR students. Institutions must have a research management plan that includes such items as the rights and responsibilities of research students, their induction and orientation, the availability of minimum facilities and the independence of examiners. The legislation states that “students are admitted to research training only where the training can be provided in a supervisory and study environment of research activity or other creative endeavour, inquiry and scholarship, and


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the supervision and resources required for their project are available” and outlines in detail the supervisory arrangements, including: • A principal supervisor who holds a doctoral degree, or has equivalent research experience, and who is active in research and publishing in, or otherwise making original contributions to, a relevant field or discipline. • At least one associate supervisor with relevant research expertise. • The principal supervisor is a member of the staff of the higher education provider, or has a relevant adjunct appointment, or is otherwise formally contracted and accountable to the provider for supervisory duties (Australian Government 2015b). The AQF mandates the knowledge and skills applicable to each level of education, from school certificates to the PhD. At the doctoral level, graduates “will have systemic and critical understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge at the frontier of a discipline …” and “will have expert, specialised cognitive, technical and research skills in a discipline area …” (AQF Council 2013: 63).

8.5  Employment of Doctoral Graduates The employment outcomes of doctoral graduates in Australia are strong. On a variety of measures, those with doctoral degrees are gainfully employed in ways that others with lower levels of education are not. According to the 2011 Australian census, only 2% of persons with doctorates were unemployed, compared to 4% of master degree graduates, 3% of bachelor graduates and 6% of those with lower qualifications (ABS 2011). For doctoral graduates in full-time employment, 50% earned more than $2000 per week (roughly 150% average full-time earnings). This compared with 37% of master graduates, 25% of bachelor graduates and 9% of those with lower qualifications. Doctoral graduates are also almost exclusively working in highly skilled occupations, with 95% working in managerial or professional roles. This compares with 81% of master graduates, 76% of bachelor graduates and 25% of those with lower qualifications. However, these aggregate results do not imply that Australia’s research training system causes stronger employment outcomes. Doctoral graduates will generally be older, more experienced and of higher ability than others in the population. These factors would suggest already strong employment capabilities of doctoral graduates. The census also includes doctoral graduates entering Australia on skilled migration visas, which will often be contingent upon professional employment. Despite these strong overall employment outcomes, there are reasons to be concerned that more recent doctoral graduates face greater difficulty finding full-time employment in professional roles. This is particularly the case for those aspiring towards academic careers. The number of doctoral completions per year has more than doubled over the 1999–2014 period (up 120%) (Australian Government 2016a). This far exceeds the growth rate in academic employment overall (up 48% on an FTE basis) (Australian Government 2016b). Even more importantly for PhD graduates, it exceeds the growth in entry-level positions in Level A (assistant lec-

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Fig. 8.5  Growth in PhD completions, academic employment (FTE, all levels) and entry-level academic employment (FTE, Level A and B) 1999–2014. (Source: Australian Government 2016a, b)

turer/research fellow 1) and Level B (lecturer/research fellow 2), which grew by 38% over this period (on an FTE basis). The trend in PhD completions and academic employment, shown in Fig. 8.5, points towards a cumulative increase in the number of research-qualified graduates unable to secure positions in the higher education sector. As this surplus has grown, competition and university expectations have also increased. Advertised entry-level academic positions now typically require multitalented “academic super-heroes” (Pitt and Mewburn 2016). The gap between supply of PhDs and entry-level academic positions also hides the enormous growth in informal recruitment of casual teaching-only positions. Only 58% of entry-level positions included paid time for research in 2014 (on an FTE basis), down from two-thirds (67%) in 2001 (Australian Government 2016b). Not all PhD graduates aspire towards academic careers, but higher education remains the dominant employer. Each year Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) surveys domestic HDR graduates, which include PhD and research-based master graduates. Some data cannot be disaggregated for PhDs only, but they are the main group comprising more than 80% of all HDR graduates in recent years. In 2014, the most recent year for which there is data, there were 3500 PhD and 600 research master respondents and a response rate of 35% for all domestic postgraduates (including coursework masters and partial responses) (GCA 2015: 4). The postgraduate destinations survey includes questions on employment contract (full-time, part-time, casual), desired employment contract and salary. The survey is completed approximately 6 months after graduation. For HDR cohorts from 2009 to 2014, the higher education sector employed between 36% and 41% of those in full-time employment (GCA 2016). Across the same period, around one-quarter of recent HDR graduates were employed in the private sector (ranging from 25% to 27%), with the remainder divided roughly equally between government, education and


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Fig. 8.6  Employment sector of HDR graduates, if working full-time, 2009–2014 (%). (Source: GCA, various years)

other sectors. The employment sector of HDR graduates working full-time is shown in Fig. 8.6 for the period 2009–2014. As indicated in Fig. 8.6, the share of HDRs employed in higher education has remained relatively stable in recent years. This may appear counterintuitive with the earlier evidence of high growth in PhD completions relative to academic positions. However, there are at least three reasons for stability in the higher education sector. Firstly, the growth in full-time equivalent employment data understates the number of new academic positions because some academics will be promoted, while others will leave their positions. Turnover in entry-level positions is particularly relevant due to the overwhelming limited term basis of these positions (39% fixed-term and 27% casual in 2013) (Australian Government 2016b). Although universities do not publicly report turnover data, a 2013 human resource benchmarking report indicated an average 30% turnover in Level A positions and a 15% turnover in Level B (AHEIA 2013). Therefore, while many recent graduates may be employed full-time in higher education after their PhD, this employment can be temporary. Secondly, the GCA survey includes only Australian citizens and permanent residents. This excludes international graduates who comprise roughly one-third of PhD completions (Australian Government 2016a). Many of these graduates will return to their country of origin and not be directly competing with domestic graduates for full-time academic employment. Thirdly, the share of PhDs finding full-time employment has steadily declined over this period. Just over three-quarters (76%) of all PhD graduates from 2014 available for full-time employment were employed full-time 6 months after graduation, but this represents a decline from 86% in 2009 and 90% in the early 2000s (GCA 2016). In the year after graduating, around one-quarter of PhDs can now expect to be unemployed (9% in 2014) or underemployed (involuntarily in part-time employment, 15% in 2014).

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Fig. 8.7  Proportion of PhD graduates securing full-time employment, median PhD graduate salaries, and average full-time adult ordinary time earnings (all workers), 2008–2014

Nevertheless, those who attain full-time employment can expect median salaries of around $80,000 per year (GCA 2016). The median salary of PhD graduates has consistently exceeded the average full-time earnings of Australian adult workers (ABS, various years), most of whom will be more experienced than PhD graduates. The trend in median PhD graduate salaries, average full-time earnings (all workers) and the proportion of PhDs available and finding full-time employment is shown in Fig. 8.7 for the period 2008–2014. Any analysis of graduate supply, demand and employment outcomes must consider potentially large differences across disciplines. In 2014, the proportion of HDR graduates able to secure full-time employment ranged from 70% in the humanities and social sciences (HASS) and 72% in business studies, up to 83% in education and 85% in health (GCA 2016). Based on a weighted average across subdisciplines, median salaries also varied from $77,000 in science and agriculture, and $79,000 in HASS and engineering, up to $90,000 in health, $92,000 in education and $95,000  in business studies. However, these weighted averages mask some internal differentiation across subdisciplines. For example, median HDR salaries in science range from $72,000 in chemistry to $82,000 in computer science. The proportion of HDR graduates securing full-time employment in each discipline is moderately positively correlated with the graduate salary in that discipline (correlation coefficient = 0.47). This makes intuitive sense, with graduates from disciplines with greater opportunities for full-time employment able to negotiate higher graduate salaries. The number of PhD completions in each discipline is also moderately negatively correlated with graduate salary (correlation coefficient  =  −0.50) and weakly negatively correlated with full-time employment in each discipline (correlation coefficient = −0.36). In 2014, just over half of all PhD completions were in HASS (26%) and science (25%), disciplines with relatively lower HDR graduate salaries. By comparison, higher earning disciplines had fewer PhD graduates, such


P. J. Bentley and V. L. Meek

Fig. 8.8  Proportion of HDR graduates securing full-time employment (y-axis), median HDR graduate full-time salary (x-axis) and proportion of PhD completions (bubble size), by discipline, 2014. (Source: ABS, various years; GCA, various years)

as health (15%), business studies (8%) and education (6%). It is important to bear in mind that these results only indicate correlation not causation. For example, the relative employment outcomes may relate to the age or experience of HDR graduates, the typical industries of employment or whether a PhD tends to be completed alongside full-time employment. The relationship between the HDR full-time employment rate, the HDR median salary and the proportion of PhD completions is shown by discipline in the scatterplot in Fig. 8.8. The size of the bubble corresponds to the proportion of PhD completions within each discipline (also shown in parentheses). Overall, most domestic PhD graduates appear to have limited difficulty gaining well-remunerated full-time work, but there are some potential causes for concern. The recent increases in PhD unemployment and underemployment are problematic, but they are likely to be temporary for the individuals concerned. For bachelor degree graduates, unemployment and underemployment decline considerably during the first 3 years after graduation (GCA 2015). Unfortunately, no comparable survey data is collected for PhD graduates. There is also no employment data for international PhD graduates, a group which comprises 65% of the growth in Australia’s HDR completions in the past decade (Australian Government 2016a).

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8.6  Reform of the Australian Doctorate Until recently, the general expectation was that PhD graduates would pursue an academic career (Go8 2013; GCA 2011; DE 2014). As demonstrated above, the academic career option is no longer the case for many PhD graduates, and over the last decade or so, many peak higher education policy bodies, including government, have advocated that research degree training should provide generic skills to enhance graduate employability and relevance to industry. A position paper by Universities Australia, the peak body representing all Australian public universities, states that: “To develop a powerful research and innovation system that drives economic and social progress, universities will … with input from prospective employers, review how best to train PhD graduates for employment in the broader economy” (Universities Australia 2013: 4). The National Research Investment Plan proposes “measures to provide research students with the generic skills and innovation capabilities needed to be productive in a wide range of employment contexts, including business” (Australian Government 2012: 69). The Australian government’s Research Workforce Strategy supports the “development of new models for research training focussed on the professional employment needs of graduates” (DIISR 2011a: 25). Government also has argued for the mechanism to encourage universities to “develop industry-linked research training and research careers” (DIICCSRTE 2013: 7). The Group of Eight (Go8) leading Australian research universities has gone so far as to claim that “Australia is embarrassingly lagging behind other first world nations in understanding that PhD graduates, if provided with specialist training in business management, have an enormous amount to offer to industry and business, and therefore a nation’s economy” (Go8 2015: 3). The Go8 in its submission to the Review of Australia’s Research Training System recommended amongst other things the introduction of: • Industrial training doctorates • Targeted postgraduate/masters level courses which combine training in a core set of research skills with entrepreneurial and/or business training • Targeted, short course training for existing PhD graduates to equip them with the specific skills required to engage with industry as part of ongoing collaborations and knowledge transfer (ibid.: 1) The above and other calls for reform of the Australian PhD, and in accord with government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda and the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements, led to the then Minister for Education and Training to commission the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) in May 2015 to conduct a comprehensive review of HDR training in Australia. The project was conducted by an Expert Working Group consisting of Fellows from the four Learned Academies – Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, and Technology and Engineering – with expertise in research, industry and higher education. The Working Group issued its report entitled Review of Australia’s Research Training System in March 2016. The main findings of the review of interest to this chapter are summarised below:


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• Current regulatory and funding arrangements limit the development and uptake of innovative and internationally recognised entry pathways to HDR training. • Transferable skills development is not as strongly embedded in Australia’s research training system as it is in some other comparable research training systems around the world. • HDR graduates go on to a range of research and non-research careers in business, academia, government, community and not-for-profit sectors. The skills developed through HDR training need to be appropriate for graduates to succeed in careers right across the spectrum of the economy. • Industry-university collaboration would be greatly improved if there was increased engagement at the HDR level. • Australia’s research effort is considered to be of high quality by global standards, but translation of research into commercial and societal outcomes tends to be poor. • The current examination system ensures Australia’s HDR outputs are of high quality, but a statement of the skills and knowledge gained by the candidate is also needed. • The Australian research training system would benefit from greater emphasis being placed on the assessment of the candidate and the skills gained, rather than focus predominately on the assessment of the thesis (ACOLA 2016). There is nothing new in the review’s findings. They merely echo those of numerous other reports and reviews over the last decade and longer. So the question is: Why has there not been more considered action to reform research doctoral training in Australia? A partial answer is that a lot has been done at the individual university level. Many universities provide PhD candidates the opportunity to take courses in management and entrepreneurialism. Work experience in the private sector is often encouraged. But such initiatives are mainly voluntary and ad hoc. The chapter concludes with a few comments on how more fundamental change in HDR training might be achieved in Australia.

8.7  Conclusion Australia’s HDR training system is well respected internationally; nonetheless, the time may be ripe for significant reform of the Australian PhD. Various reviews have strongly advocated reform for over a decade, as have higher education peak bodies such as Universities Australia. But the recommendations of these reviews and organisations do not necessarily translate into government policy or change in behaviour at the university level. Moreover, higher education policy in Australia is presently in a state of limbo. Government recommendations, such as the introduction of fees for domestic HDR students and a 10% reduction in RTS funding, have the potential to impact dramatically on doctoral training in Australia. Whether these and related government proposals are legislated remains to be seen.

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But the more fundamental problem is the lack of a long-term vision for Australian higher education at the national level. The 2016 Review of Australia’s Research Training System itself recognised that “a coordinated, strategic national response is urgently required … owned and developed jointly by the sector, industry and government” (ACOLA 2016: x). While the importance of research and research training is being paid a good deal of lip service by politicians from both sides of the political spectrum, the rhetoric is mainly about the contribution of research to economic growth and employment. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with research and highly trained researchers contributing to economic growth. But if this becomes the main or sole objective of research and research training, we may end up killing the research goose that lays the golden eggs. It may take years for the impact to become apparent; however, the importance of blue-sky, fundamental research to innovation in the long term is well established. An argument for strong continued support for fundamental research is not an argument against the reform of doctoral training in Australia. It appears that the traditional apprenticeship approach to doctoral training may no longer be the best model for all HDR students. While not questioning the importance of the advancement of knowledge, it should be recognised that producing knowledge workers and developing human capital is the key function of all tertiary education systems. Skilled human capital is a prerequisite to innovation, but educating people is not only about equipping them with the ability to generate and apply knowledge but also to make use of knowledge generated elsewhere and equipping them with the skills to engage in continuous learning. A range of education and training programs that can best produce people who can think and find ways to improve work practices is required. Highly educated people are also needed to transform discoveries into a product or processes, which generally happens outside the university. Education of managers and policy developers is also crucial (Goedegebuure and Meek 2015). How to bring about reform? While government plays a regulatory and financial role in shaping HDR training, its power to bring about change is limited, particularly in the context of the current policy environment. The recent review advocates that “there would be value in building a national industry placement scheme of significant scale and scope through a national coordinating body” for HDR candidates (ACOLA 2016: xiv). But past experience with such centralised initiatives is not positive. Probably the best government can do is to create a policy environment and put in place incentives that encourage universities to better engage with industry and to think seriously about ways in which to approach HDR training differently. However, the present one size fits all approach will not work. There is evidence to suggest (Meek et al. 1996) that differentiated systems of tertiary education, maintained and regulated through formally articulated policy, provide more rational, effective and efficient means for production of both research and skilled human capital than unitary systems based on market-driven, laissez-­ faire approaches to institutional mission articulation as we presently have in Australia. Reform of doctoral training must be part and parcel of reform to the sector as a whole, where institutions are encouraged to develop all of their educational and research programs in accord with their specific and individual missions. The


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basic challenge for all stakeholders is to set the conditions that enhance mission differentiation, from which hopefully a variety of types of more effective doctoral training programs will emerge. Not only does there appear a need for enhanced mission differentiation amongst institutions, but there must also be internal differentiation, such that PhD programs may be able to cater to those aspiring to research careers, teaching and research careers, and non-research careers. Whether specific employment skills are included within HDR training or are introduced in parallel to such training requires careful consideration.

References Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2011). Census of population and housing 2011. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2016a). 6302.0 Average weekly earnings. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2016b). 8111.0 – Research and experimental development, higher education organisations, Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA). (2016). Review of Australia’s research training system: Final report. ACOLA: Melbourne. Australian Government. (2012). National research investment plan. Canberra: Australian Government. Australian Government. (2015a). National innovation and science agenda. Canberra: Australian Government. Australian Government. (2015b). Higher education standards framework (threshold standards) 2015. Canberra: Australian Government. F2015L01639/Html/Text#_Toc428368864 Australian Government. (2016a). Students: Selected higher education statistics. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Government. (2016b). Staff: Selected higher education statistics. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Government (2016c). Research block grants. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Australian Higher Education Industrial Association (AHEIA). (2013). Universities HR benchmarking program 2013. Melbourne: AHEIA. Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Council. (2013). Australian qualifications framework (2nd ed.). Accessed at: Australian Research Council (ARC). (2016). Public consultation opens for engagement and impact assessment. Media release. Accessed at: public-consultation-opens-engagement-and-impact-assessment Bentley, P. J. (2013). Academia’s demographic time bomb. L H Martin Institute – Insights Blog. http:// Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of Australian higher education. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Dale, A. (1997). Wrestling with a fine woman: The history of postgraduate education in Australia 1851–1993. PhD thesis submitted to the University of Adelaide. Deloitte Access Economics. (2011). Examining the full cost of research training. Canberra: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Deloitte Access Economics. (2016). The value of international education to Australia. Canberra: Australian Government.

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Department of Education & Training (DET). (2015). Review of research policy and funding arrangements. Department of Education (DE). (2014). Initiatives to enhance the professional development of research students. Canberra: Australian Government. Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP). (2016). Temporary graduate visa (subclass 485). Canberra: Australian Government. Accessed at: Visa-1/485Department of Industry, Innovation & Science (DIIS). (2015). Australian innovation system report 2015. Canberra: Office of Chief Economist/DIIS. Accessed at: au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/Publications/Documents/Australian-Innovation-System/ Australian-Innovation-System-Report-2015.pdf Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research & Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE). (2013). Assessing the wider benefits arising from university-based research: Discussion paper. Canberra: Australian Government. Department of Industry, Tourism & Resources (DITR). (2006). Collaboration and other factors influencing innovation novelty in Australian business: An econometric analysis. Canberra: DITR. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research (DIISR). (2011a). Research skills for an innovative future: A research workforce strategy to cover the decade to 2020 and beyond. Canberra: Australian Government. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research (DIISR). (2011b). Focusing Australia’s publicly funded research review: Maximising the innovation dividend, review key findings and future directions. Canberra: Australian Government. Dobson, I.  R. (2012). PhDs in Australia, from the beginning. Australian Universities’ Review, 54(1), 94–101. Evans, T., Macauley, P., Pearson, M., & Tregenza, K. (2003). A decadic review of PhDs in Australia. In NZARE/AARE 2003: Educational research, risks and dilemmas (pp.  1–15). Coldstream: NZARE/AARE. Forsyth, H. (2014). A history of the modern Australian university. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, UNSW. Goedegebuure, L., & Meek, V.  L. (2015, November 26). Some innovation in the innovation debate, please. L H Martin Institute  – Insights Blog. insights-blog/2015/11/220-some-innovation-in-the-innovation-debate-please. Graduate Careers Australia (GCA). (2011). Postgraduate destinations 2011: A report on the work and study outcomes of recent higher education postgraduates. Melbourne: GCA. Graduate Careers Australia (GCA). (2015). Beyond graduation 2014: A report of graduates’ work and study outcomes three years after course completion. Melbourne: GCA. Graduate Careers Australia (GCA). (2016). Various years. Postgraduate destinations tables and figures. Melbourne: GCA. Group of Eight (Go8). (2013). The changing PhD: Discussion paper. Canberra: Go8. Group of Eight (Go8). (2015). Submission to the Australian Council of Learned Academies review of Australia’s research training system. Accessed at: files/docs/publications/go8_rts_submission_final_template_version_0.pdf Hugo, G., & Morriss, A. (2010). Investigating the ageing academic workforce: Stocktake. Adelaide: GISCA—The National Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information Systems. Kemp, D. (1999). Knowledge and innovation: A policy statement on research and research training. Canberra: DETYA. Meek, V. L. (2000). Uses of higher education policy research, inaugural public lecture. Armidale: University of New England. Meek, V. L., Goedegebuure, L., Kivinen, O., & Rinne, R. (Eds.). (1996). The mockers and mocked: Comparative perspectives on diversity, differentiation and convergence in higher education. Oxford: Pergamon 1–239 + xiv.


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Meek, V.  L., Goedegebuure, L., & Van der Lee, J.  (2010). The Australian academic research enterprise. In D. Dill & F. van Vught (Eds.), The academic research enterprise (pp. 27–61). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Norton, A., & Cakitaki, B. (2016). Mapping Australian higher education, 2016. Melbourne: Grattan Institute. OECD. (2015). Education at a glance 2015: OECD indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing. OECD (2016, February). Education indicators in focus. Pitt, R., & Mewburn, I. (2016). Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(1), 88–101. Scopus data accessed via SciVal. (2016). Universities Australia. (2013). A smarter Australia: An agenda for Australian higher education 2013–2016. Canberra: Universities Australia. Universities Australia. (2015a). Submission to the Australian Council of Learned Academies review of Australia’s research training system. Canberra: Universities Australia. Universities Australia. (2015b). Higher education and research facts and figures. Canberra: Universities Australia. World Economic Forum. (2016). The global competitiveness report 2015–2016. Geneva/ New York/Beijing/Tokyo: World Economic Forum. global-competitiveness-report-2015-2016/country-highlights/

Chapter 9

Doctoral Education in Canada Glen A. Jones

9.1  Introduction Doctoral education has become an important issue within Canadian higher education. Enrolment in doctoral programs has expanded dramatically in the last few decades, raising important questions about the relationships between doctoral education and government policies for research, development and innovation. It has also raised important questions about the labour market outcomes associated with the doctoral degree and the role of the doctorate in the context of nonacademic career pathways and in the context of changes in academic work. The objective of this chapter is to describe and analyse the evolution of doctoral education in Canada and note a number of key, contemporary issues and challenges. I will begin by describing the emergence and evolution of doctoral education within Canada’s highly decentralized higher education policy environment. I will then turn to a discussion of current issues and concerns, before offering some concluding observations.

G. A. Jones (*) Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



G. A. Jones

9.2  T  he Emergence, Evolution and Funding of Doctoral Education 9.2.1  T  he Emergence and Evolution of Doctoral Education in Canada The Dominion of Canada was created in 1867, and the total higher education enrolment in the new country was about 1500 students. Only five institutions could boast of enrolments of over 100 students (Jones 1996). Under the new constitutional federation arrangements, responsibility for education was assigned to the provinces, but only a handful of higher education institutions received public funding, and there was little in the way of government regulation or coordination. Most universities were small, private, denominational colleges offering only undergraduate programs. There had been a long history of a Masters of Arts degree in several universities, though the degree was not highly respected; at the University of Toronto, the M.A. did not require any additional coursework following the baccalaureate, and the degree was awarded on the basis of a short thesis that could be completed in a few months. These regulations were tightened in 1903, and a 1-year residence requirement was added in 1910 (Friedland 2002). The first serious institutional discussions of graduate education at the level of the Ph.D. in Canada took place towards the end of the nineteenth century. The University of Toronto awarded the first Canadian Ph.D. in 1900 (in physics). The second university to award the doctorate was McGill in 1909 (in the natural sciences) (Williams 2005). Both institutions were heavily influenced by the ways in which the German research university model had been taken up in the United States, particularly by Johns Hopkins University, and both would later become the only non-US members of the American Association of Universities (AAU), the association of leading research universities in the United States. The expansion of doctoral education proceeded quite slowly until the post-WWII massification of higher education in Canada. A small number of universities created doctoral programs, but the majority of all Ph.Ds. were awarded by Toronto and McGill until 1945. Most Canadians travelled to the United States or the United Kingdom to pursue a doctorate during this period; only 75 doctoral degrees were awarded by Canadian universities in 1940 (Williams 2005). The expansion of higher education following the war initially focused on providing educational opportunities to veterans, but both the federal and provincial governments soon began to view higher education as a key investment to support the economic and social development of the nation. Universities would play a key role in both teaching and research, and provincial governments began to explore strategies for creating provincial systems of higher education, while the federal government increased funding transfers to the provinces and support for student financial assistance, capital construction and research (Jones 1996).

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The expansion of undergraduate education far outpaced the growth in doctoral program enrolment, and Canadian universities turned to the international labour market to address their need for academic staff. The number of doctoral graduates from Canadian universities increased dramatically, from 306  in 1960 to 1680  in 1970, when over 13,000 students were enrolled in doctoral programs across the country, but universities still needed to turn to graduates from American, UK or European universities in order to address their academic staffing needs (Williams 2005). This was in part a natural response to the short supply of doctoral graduates, but these decisions may have also been influenced by a belief that a higher quality of doctoral education could be obtained at universities in the United States. As Claude Bissell, President of the University of Toronto, noted: In our colonial heart of hearts, we believed that advanced degrees from Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and California, glowed more brightly than advanced degrees from McGill, Toronto, Alberta and British Columbia. I think that attitude is changing and we now have confidence in what we can do ourselves. (1977, p. 3)

Given that the growth in investments in higher education were to at least some extent associated with post-war nationalism and justified by the need to support the social, economic and cultural development of the nation-state, the fact that a significant number of new faculty, including those asked to teach courses in Canadian history, sociology and geography, were non-Canadian became an issue of some controversy. A “Canadianization” movement argued for strengthening and supporting research about Canada and for hiring Canadian-educated professors who would educate the next generation of Canadians on their history, politics and culture (e.g. see Mathews and Steele 1969). The mass system of higher education that had emerged in Canada by 1970 was highly decentralized. Universities were established as independent private, non-­ profit corporations, almost all of which received government funding and were considered “public” institutions in terms of their role and purpose. Higher education policy was the responsibility of the provinces, and each provincial government developed its own mechanisms for funding, regulating and coordinating institutions. Generally speaking, universities were granted considerable autonomy over academic matters, and institutional decisions related to academic programs and standards were the responsibility of university senates as part of bicameral governance arrangements (Jones et al. 2001). Given this decentralized policy environment, each Canadian university determined its own standards and requirements for academic programs, including for doctoral programs. There were institutional variations in doctoral program requirements, though there were also common elements. Most programs combined elements of the British and French models (which placed a significant emphasis on original research and a long thesis) with American programs (which emphasized substantial coursework prior to beginning a thesis). Canadian programs generally included coursework, a full-time residency requirement and a comprehensive examination that would be completed before the student began the thesis. Many programs required students to demonstrate proficiency in a second language. The thesis


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p­ rocess would be supervised by a committee (with a supervisor as chair), and the final thesis would be examined by a committee of professors with one external examiner (Williams 2005). While the Canadian university sector was highly decentralized, a relatively common university model had emerged by the early 1970s. All universities had both a research and teaching function. They shared relatively common governance structures. Most were comprehensive institutions that included some combination of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. However, while there was an expansion of graduate education at universities across the country, and an increase in the number of institutions that awarded doctoral degrees, there continued to be a concentration of doctoral education enrolment within a handful of universities that were far more research-intensive than their peers. Despite rapid expansion of doctoral programs, in 1970 53% of all doctoral degrees were awarded by only five universities (Toronto, McGill, Montreal, Alberta and British Columbia). In 1980, the same five universities were responsible for awarding 55% of all doctoral degrees (Williams 2005). The basic structure of the Ph.D. has remained relatively intact over time, though there continue to be modest variations by institution and there have been some modifications to the degree arrangements over the last few decades. A foreign language requirement, once common for doctoral programs across the spectrum of fields, was largely abandoned in the 1980s except in fields where a second language is viewed as essential to the discipline. While it continues to be assumed in most programs that students follow a pathway from undergraduate to masters and then to doctoral education, some programs at some universities have created programs designed to attract the very best undergraduate students directly into a doctoral program. These “direct entry” programs are designed to recruit the very best undergraduate students into a doctoral program that includes additional coursework and requirements designed to replace the masters. The notion of residency, a required period of full-­ time study, has softened at many institutions. Finally, there has been increasing interest in professional doctoral programs. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree emerged at some universities several decades ago as a professional doctorate for working professionals in the field of education, and the degree has received renewed attention at some universities that have introduced program requirements that are quite different from the Ph.D. There is now an interest in introducing other professional doctoral degree programs designed to address the needs of professionals in other fields. In the province of Ontario, the universities created a mechanism to review the quality of applications for new graduate programs. Concerned with the rapid expansion of graduate programs, especially with programs emerging from new universities, the umbrella organization of provincially funded universities, the Council of Ontario Universities, established the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS) in 1966. OCGS was assigned responsibility for conducting an assessment of all new graduate programs in order to ensure that program quality was maintained. The role of OCGS was later expanded to include periodic reviews of all graduate programs. The provincial government later moved to link the OCGS quality assessment

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p­ rocess to government funding. A successful review was needed in order for a new program to receive funding or for an existing program to retain funding (Jones 1991). While universities retained autonomous authority over doctoral program requirements, there is little doubt that the OCGS review process influenced these institutional decision processes, and some critics argued that these reviews discouraged certain types of program innovation (Skolnik 1989). Responsibility for quality assurance in the Ontario system has shifted under a relatively new provincial framework approved by the Council of Ontario Universities. Institutions are now responsible for conducting their own periodic reviews of all degree programs, including doctoral programs under institutional policies. A provincial Quality Council periodically audits institutional practices in order to ensure that all universities are abiding by their own policies and in order to provide advice on best practices. Quality assurance processes vary by province, but generally speaking, quality assurance for higher education in Canada has been left in the hands of the individual universities or, in the case of Ontario and Quebec, in the hands of the provincial association of universities. There are no national standards for doctoral education, and provincial governments have generally left decisions on curriculum and standards to the universities through their internal academic governance structures. Quality assurance for doctoral education is in the hands of the universities (Weinrib and Jones 2014). A national organization of university graduate schools, the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies, facilitates information-sharing, facilitates the analysis of national data on graduate studies and advocates on behalf of graduate education at the national level. The Association, created in 1962, has become an important forum for facilitating national surveys of graduate students and promoting best practices in graduate programs and doctoral supervision. Doctoral enrolment has continued to expand (see Fig. 9.1). Full-time enrolment in doctoral programs increased from 20,910 in 1992 to 48,006 in 2012, an increase of approximately 130% over the 20-year period. Part-time enrolment declined during the same period, from 4203 in 1992 to 2595 in 2012. The greatest period of growth occurred in the early years of the twenty-first century, in part because of a major funded expansion of doctoral education in the province of Ontario, though doctoral enrolment increased in most provinces during this period. In 2012, 46% of full-time doctoral students and 50% of part-time doctoral students were female, though there were major differences in the gender balance by field of study. There were major differences in the profile of enrolment growth by fields of study (using Statistics Canada’s categorization of fields). Data on full-time doctoral enrolment growth by field is presented in Table 9.1. In percentage terms, the largest increases during the 20-year period were in “visual and performing arts and communication technologies” (416.5%), “health and related fields” (348.7%) and “business, management and public administration” (223.6%). In terms of the number of full-student enrolment by field, the largest increases were in “social and behavioural sciences and law” (where enrolment increased by 6072), “architecture, engineering


G. A. Jones 60000

Full-Time Part-Time

50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0 1992











Fig. 9.1  Full-time and part-time doctoral enrolment by year: 1992–2012. (Source: Statistics Canada, derived from data presented by Looker (2015)

Table 9.1  Full-time doctoral enrolment by field of study: 1992 and 2012 1992 Field of study enrolment Visual and performing arts and 237 communications technologies Other 117 Health and related fields 1101 Business, management and public 546 administration Architecture, engineering and related 3273 technologies Social and behavioural sciences and 3792 law Mathematics, computer and 1146 information sciences Physical and life sciences and 5001 technologies 768 Agriculture, natural resources and conservation Education 1605 Humanities 3306 Personal, protective and 18 transportation services Total 20,910

2012 enrolment 1224

Change 1992–2012 987

% Change 1992–2012 416.5

525 3696 1767

408 2595 1221

348.7 235.7 223.6
















2694 4848 15

1089 1542 −3

67.9 46.6 −16.7




Source: Statistics Canada, derived from data presented by Looker (2015)

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Table 9.2  Profile of doctoral degrees awarded, Canada (2012)

Total degrees awarded, Canada Gender

Doctoral degrees awarded 6393

Percentage of total 100

Male Female

3471 2925

54.3 45.8

British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Ontario Quebec New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island Newfoundland and Labrador

777 657 90 132 2733 1773 57 108 6 63

12.2 10.3 1.4 2.1 42.7 27.7 0.9 1.7 0.1 1.0

1017 0 1170 2727 2493

15.9 0 18.3 42.7 39.1

Province of study

International enrolment Age groups

Less than 25 25–29 years 30–34 years 35 and over

Source: Derived from Looker (2015), p. 85

and related technologies” (where enrolment increased by 5610) and “physical, life sciences and technologies” (where enrolment increased by 5127). A considerable number of international students pursue doctoral programs in Canadian universities, and the share of international students increased roughly in parallel with the increase in domestic students during the period from 1992 to 2012. Of the 48,006 full-time doctoral students enrolled in 2012, 13,767 were international students (28.7%); in 1992, 5739 of the total full-time enrolment of 20,910 were international students (27.4%). The percentage of international students varies a great deal by field of study, ranging from 46.5% of students enrolled in “architecture, engineering and related technologies” to 12.8% of students enrolled in “education” (Looker 2015, p. 56). Table 9.2 provides a profile of doctoral degrees that were awarded in 2012, including the share of degrees awarded by gender, province of graduation and age group. A total of 6393 doctoral degrees were awarded, with males receiving 54.3% and females receiving 45.8% of these degrees. Approximately 43% of graduates were between the ages of 30 and 34 years. It is interesting to note that while international students represented 28.7% of total doctoral enrolment in 2012, they represent only 15.9% of graduates. The ­difference is largely explained by the fact that “international students” is a fluid


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category based on visa/citizenship status. International students who become permanent residents of Canada during their period of studies essentially change categories; they begin as international students operating under a student visa and switch to be counted as domestic students with permanent resident status. International students have become an important part of Canada’s immigration strategy (see Trilokekar et al. 2009). As already noted, Canada is a federation and higher education is the responsibility of the provincial governments. There are major differences in the size and population of each province, and there are major differences in the size of provincial higher education system in terms of numbers of institutions and enrolment. As Table 9.2 illuminates, there are also differences between provinces in terms of the number of students graduating with doctoral degrees. Some of these differences can simply be explained by differences in the size of higher education systems, but it is also important to note that the level of doctoral program activity varies considerably by institution and that there continue to be a handful of research-intensive universities that are much more heavily involved in doctoral education than other institutions. Almost 70% of doctoral degrees were awarded by universities located in the provinces of Ontario (43%) and Quebec (27%) in 2012, a percentage that exceeds the share of undergraduate enrolment in these provinces. It is also important to note that there are differences in the share of international students enrolling in doctoral programs by province. For example, Ontario has the lowest percentage of full-time international students in doctoral programs (21% of total full-time enrolment) compared to the Canadian average (29%). Newfoundland and Labrador (with only one university, Memorial University) has the highest percentage (45%) (Looker 2015).

9.2.2  R  esearch Funding and Graduate Student Financial Support While there was some jostling of responsibility for higher education between the federal government and the provinces in the post-war period, by the mid-1960s, it was clear that the provinces would play the central role in regulating, coordinating and directly funding higher education. The federal government would play a major role in higher education by providing funding for higher education through unconditional transfers to the provinces, and more direct involvement in a number of related policy areas, such as student financial assistance (though a national student loan program administered by the provinces), bilingualism, culture and, most important to this discussion, research (Jones 1996). Federal government investment in research can be traced back to the creation of the National Research Council in 1918. With quite modest funding, the Council quickly determined that supporting the development of human resources for research through scholarships to support graduate studies in strategic areas would

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be an important priority. The country’s first national funding council, the Canada Council for the Arts, was created in 1957 with a mandate to provide direct support for the arts (such as music, fiction, visual arts, etc.) and for research in the social sciences and humanities, but also to build national research capacity through scholarships to support graduate studies. The Medical Research Council of Canada was created in 1960. By 1977, most federal government funding for university research was directed through three broad discipline-related research councils, the Medical Research Council of Canada (which would evolve into the interdisciplinary Canadian Institutes of Health Research in 2000), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Jones and Weinrib 2011). The three federal research councils play an important role in funding and supporting doctoral education in at least three different ways. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is that all three councils operate competitive doctoral scholarship programs that support excellent doctoral students. These are high-prestige scholarships that support Canadian students pursuing doctoral programs at Canadian universities. The second is that all three councils operate competitive research funding mechanisms where decisions to support investigator-initiated research projects are made on the basis of peer review. These research grants are a major source of doctoral student funding, and grant applicants are now asked to describe the role of graduate student training in the proposed project within the research proposal process. The third is that research projects supported by the funding councils provide doctoral students with research experience. Graduate students, especially doctoral students, are frequently employed (or receive funding) to work on faculty research projects. In some cases a component of the project becomes the student’s thesis research, while in others the project provides students with additional research experience. The professor, as principal investigator, may involve doctoral students at all stages of the research project, from developing the proposal, through data collection and experimentation, to analysis and publication. In addition to open competitions for instructor-initiated projects, each of the three councils has a history of focusing at least some funding on research areas designated as being of strategic importance. These research areas have varied by council and evolved over time, and some observers have argued that strategic funding priorities have served to steer university research activities (Fisher et al. 2006). Given the central role that council grants play in funding doctoral education, especially in some fields, one might conclude that strategic funding priorities have also served to steer areas of emphasis within doctoral education. In addition to funding, the three research councils have also had a significant influence on research ethics in Canada, and this influence has extended to doctoral education. While Canadian universities have long had institutional policies on research ethics, especially on ethics related to the collection of data on human subjects, it was the emergence in 1998 of “tri-council” policies and guidelines concerning ethical practices that dramatically reinforced the importance of ethical practices and provided national standards for research ethics. All institutions that receive funding from the granting councils must adhere to these national guidelines


G. A. Jones

(Canadian Institutes of Health Research 2014), and all university research projects involving human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the university’s Research Ethics Board (REB). For doctoral students who are pursuing thesis research that involves human subjects, the ethical protocol review process follows the development of a research proposal. After the proposal has been approved by the thesis committee, the student, under the guidance of the thesis supervisor, completes a detail research ethics protocol that is reviewed by the university’s REB. The process requires the student to complete and submit a detailed form, specific information on the procedures that will be used to collect and/or analyse data, including data collection instruments or interview procedures and questions and other relevant materials related to the research process. The ethics review process is taken extremely seriously, and students are not allowed to begin collecting data until the project has been approved by the REB. The process is time-consuming for both the study and supervisor. It will often take at least 1 or 2 months for a doctoral student to obtain ethics approval after the materials have been submitted to the REB, and in cases involving complex research methods or studies that involve a high level of risk, the process can take much longer and involve responding to questions and very detailed concerns articulated by the board. Understanding and addressing the ethics of research involving human subjects has become an explicit component of the doctoral program. While the federal government is the largest single sponsor of university research, the provincial governments also play an important (and increasing) role in funding research. The Government of Quebec has devoted considerable attention to funding research, in part in order to support research that contributes to Quebec’s distinctive role within the Canadian federation, but also to support projects that might eventually lead to a successful application to the federal granting councils, essentially attempting to maximize success in obtaining federal funding for research being conducted at Quebec universities. In 2001 Quebec was operating three granting councils that roughly paralleled the federal government’s council structure. In 2011 the provincial government merged the three councils to form the single Fonds de Recherche du Quebec. Other provinces have also developed funding mechanisms and policies to support university research (Sa 2010). While some of these mechanisms have been in place for quite some time, the growth in federal support for research in the early years of the twenty-first century has effectively leveraged increasing provincial interest in this policy area, and led to funding mechanisms designed to leverage federal government funding, or contribute to the capacity of provincial universities to successfully compete for research funding. All of these funding mechanisms have implications for doctoral education since these projects usually employ or fund doctoral students. Some provincial governments also provide direct support for graduate student scholarships. For example, the province of Ontario created the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program, with the majority of scholarships going towards doctoral students. The program originally involved direct scholarships to students based on a

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provincial competition but has now been decentralized and is administered, and partly funded, by individual universities according to provincial guidelines. In addition to scholarships and research grant funding, doctoral students are frequently employed as teaching assistants to support undergraduate teaching. These positions frequently involve supporting the teaching process by leading seminars or laboratory sessions, marking course assignments or other duties in support of the professor who has responsibility for the course. Senior doctoral students may be employed to teach junior undergraduate courses. At an increasing number of Canadian universities, teaching assistant and sessional teaching positions are unionized positions, and the conditions of employment are determined through collective bargaining (Field et al. 2014). In addition to supporting doctoral students directly through scholarships, and indirectly through funding for university research, both federal and provincial government governments operate needs-based student financial support mechanisms that are available to graduate students, including doctoral students. However, in many fields the current trend is for doctoral students to receive multi-year guaranteed funding from the university as a condition of admission. These arrangements vary a great deal by field and university, but the basic notion is that the university will guarantee a minimum level of funding, often provided in some combination of scholarships, and employment income through teaching assistantships or research assistantships. Some students may have income levels that far exceed the minimum.

9.3  Current Issues in Doctoral Education in Canada 9.3.1  Supply and Demand Questions of supply and demand have become the subject of considerable attention both within government policy and in terms of public debate (for example, see Desjardins, 2012). Doctoral education has become linked with the policy discussions of research, economic development and innovation (Jones and Gopaul 2012). The rationale for expanding doctoral enrolment has frequently involved two major arguments: the teaching needs associated with expanding undergraduate enrolment combined with future retirements will create an increased demand for new university professors; and the knowledge economy will require increasing numbers of highly educated human resources (Maldonado et al. 2013). In this context, analysts noted that Canada produced fewer masters and doctoral graduates per capita, especially in science and engineering fields than the United States or other peer nations, and it has therefore been suggested that there should be an expansion of graduate education in order to ensure that highly educated human resources are in place to support economic development and innovation (Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity 2004). The most dramatic response to these arguments took place in the province of Ontario. Provincial policies supported a major expansion of higher


G. A. Jones

education in the early years of the twenty-first century, including, beginning in 2004, a major expansion of graduate education and specific targets for doctoral education. While the most dramatic increases took place in Ontario, there have been similar trends in other provinces, and, as noted above, total enrolment in doctoral studies across Canada increased by approximately 130% between 1992 and 2012. Given the increasing supply of doctoral graduates, questions have emerged on the demand side of the equation. The argument that there is an oversupply of doctoral graduates is largely linked to the changing nature of academic work and the increasing vertical fragmentation of the academic profession (Jones 2013). The growth in undergraduate enrolment has far outpaced the growth in full-time, tenure-­ stream faculty positions, and many universities have addressed their teaching needs by increasing their use of part-time contract faculty. According to this argument, the oversupply of doctoral graduates has made it relatively easy for universities to address both its increased needs for teaching and its financial challenges by employing an increasing number of academic workers who fulfil many of the same teaching functions as tenure-stream faculty, but with very different conditions of employment, including much lower levels of remuneration, fewer employment benefits and little job security. Studies of contract, sessional faculty reveal that a significant number of these individuals aspire to full-time, tenure-stream positions and are frustrated at the lack of opportunities to transition from precarious employment to secure, permanent positions (Field and Jones 2016). Given this situation, the critique of the expansion of doctoral education takes three basic forms. The first is that the “oversupply” of doctoral graduates has created the conditions for the expansion of this academic underclass of precarious university teachers. The second is that there should be a much more direct relationship between the supply of doctoral graduates and the demand for tenure-stream faculty positions; the fact that some doctoral graduates are unable to find full-time employment in academic positions provides evidence, it is argued, of poor academic labour-­ market planning. Universities should be more transparent about the job opportunities available to doctoral graduates before individuals begin doctoral programs. Third, given the reality of the academic job market, greater emphasis should be placed on preparing doctoral students for nonacademic career pathways. The latter argument has provided the foundation for the increasing interest and growth in co-curricular professional development programs for graduate students, an issue that will be discussed in greater detail below. The discussion of supply and demand is complicated by the reality that the labour market is not limited to national boundaries, and this may be particularly true of the academic labour market in Canada. As already noted, it is not uncommon for international students in doctoral programs to remain in Canada; in fact Canada’s international education strategy links international student recruitment with Canada’s need for highly educated immigrants (El Masri et al. 2015). In addition, individuals with Ph.D.s obtained from other countries also immigrate to Canada; according to some data sources, the majority of individuals with doctoral degrees were not born in Canada (Jones and Gopaul 2012). The academic labour market is frequently viewed as international and Canadian research universities will search for the best

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candidate for an advertised academic position; at the University of Toronto, for example, approximately half of new tenure-stream hires do not hold Canadian citizenship at the time of appointment (Barbaric and Jones 2017). Perhaps more than other provinces, government funding policies in the province of Ontario were explicitly designed to encourage the expansion of graduate enrolment. The 2005 Ontario budget announced funding for an additional 14,000 graduate student spaces (including masters and doctoral students), and an additional 6000 spaces were announced in the 2011 budget (Jonker 2016). Given this emphasis in policy, Ontario has also been the province where the question of whether the supply of doctoral graduates is too high or too low has received the most attention, and a number of recent studies have both reviewed the literature on doctoral graduate outcomes and analysed data on the employment experience of Canadian or Ontario doctoral graduates. For example, a recent study by Edge and Munro (2015) examined data from Canada’s National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada. This was not a study of the employment of Canadian doctoral graduates, but rather an analysis of the employment of individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 who hold a doctorate (regardless of where the degree was obtained). This study found that nearly 40% of individuals holding a doctorate are employed in the postsecondary (university and college) sector, with approximately 19% employed as a full-time university professor. The remaining 60% were employed in natural and applied sciences (17%), health (11%), education, social services and government (11%) or an “other” sector (21%). The study also confirmed findings from several previous studies that doctoral graduate report high employment rates and the highest median earnings compared to those with lower levels of education. In short, employment outcomes for individuals with a doctoral degree are positive. Another recent study by Jonkers (2016) supported by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario focused on the employment outcomes of graduates of Ontario universities. The study focused on the 2310 graduates who earned a doctoral degree from an Ontario university in 2009 and then used web searches and other strategies to obtain information on employment in 2015. While the Edge and Munro study (2015) focused on individuals with a doctorate in Canada, the Jonkers study focused on individuals graduating with a doctorate from an Ontario university in a single year and obtained data on employment both in and outside Canada (where data were available). According to the Jonkers’ study (2016), approximately 29% of graduates were employed as a university professor, and another 21% were employed in some other position within an academic institution (researcher, college instructor, etc.). Approximately 35% were employed in nonacademic careers (in a wide range of sectors), while data could not be obtained on 15% of graduates. Of the 2310 graduates, roughly half were employed in Ontario in 2009, and an additional 17% were employed in other Canadian provinces (i.e. two-thirds of graduates were employed somewhere in Canada). Approximately 17% of graduates were employed outside of Canada.


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Of the 673 graduates who were employed as professors in 2015, 11% were employed at a “world-class” university, that is, a university ranked in the top 50 by one of the major international rankings, and most of these graduates were employed by major Canadian research universities (63%; Toronto, McGill and University of British Columbia). Approximately 17% of professors employed by top universities are working at institutions in the United States, and 20% are at universities in other countries. Almost 60% of these professors graduated from the University of Toronto, and the vast majority graduated from one of Ontario’s research-intensive universities (Jonkers 2016). These findings appear to reaffirm the hierarchical nature of doctoral education and the academic job; most doctoral students are enrolled at leading research universities, and graduates from major research universities are more likely to find academic positions at other leading research universities (Jones and Gopaul 2012). The overall findings of studies of the employment outcomes of doctoral graduates in Canada are fairly positive. Levels of employment and median income are higher for doctoral graduates than for individuals with lower levels of income. Approximately 40% are employed in the postsecondary sector with 60% employed in other sectors of the economy. Of those receiving doctoral degrees from Ontario universities in 2009, 29% were employed as a university professor, and 21% were employed in some other position within the postsecondary sector by 2015.

9.3.2  P  rofessional Development for Nonacademic Career Pathways As noted above, many doctoral graduates, in fact the majority in many fields of study, are employed outside the academy. This reality has raised important questions about whether universities are appropriately preparing doctoral students for nonacademic careers or whether their educational experiences are still focused primarily on acquiring the research skills and knowledge associated with traditional academic career pathways. In the context of increasing enrolments in doctoral programs, the question of how to support the professional development of students heading towards nonacademic careers has been receiving additional attention. In her review of key reports and documents in this area, Rose notes (2012) that many of the key agencies and organizations associated with graduate studies in Canada have issued statements and recommendations on the professional development of doctoral students. These include statement issues by the three granting councils, and reports from the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies, and the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies. The key conclusions emerging from these documents are that there are important professional skills that should be developed by doctoral students in addition to traditional academic research skills and that uni-

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versities have a responsibility to assist students in acquiring these skills given the increasing number of graduates who will be moving into careers outside academe. The central assumption underscoring these reports is that doctoral programs are currently designed to provide students with core skills in research training, but that more emphasis should be placed on other professional skills areas to complement or supplement these core skills. The list of professional skills varies by report but generally includes communication skills, interpersonal skills, teaching skills, research management and knowledge mobilization. A survey conducted by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (2011) collected information on the range of topics being addressed in professional skills workshops available to graduate students at Ontario universities and identified 21 skill areas, including academic integrity, public speaking, teaching, teamwork, time management and intercultural communication. This interest in furthering the professional development of graduate students has led most Canadian universities to develop co-curricular educational programming designed to address these needs. These initiatives are frequently led by the university graduate school but often in partnership with other university services or administrative units. For example, the university’s centre for the support of teaching may provide specialized workshops or courses for graduate students on teaching skills and competencies. Rose (2012) notes that many large research-intensive universities have developed an array of professional development programs offered by central offices, usually the graduate school, that are promoted across the institution, often supplementing workshops and professional development programming offered at the local academic unit (department or faculty) level. These educational activities operate in parallel with, but are not formally part of, the requirements for doctoral education. They are supplemental, voluntary activities, sometimes leading to a certificate of completion or other basic form of recognition designed to assist students in demonstrating professional skill acquisition to potential employers. The recognition that there are important professional skill gaps has also raised questions about whether doctoral programs should be revised to include a greater emphasis on nonacademic career pathways. The general critique is that supervising professors are primarily interested in training the next generation of academics and that little emphasis is given to providing students with the background knowledge and skills needed to pursue other career trajectories. While there is little evidence of large-scale reform to Ph.D. degree programs, there is an increasing awareness in some fields of the advantages of providing students with opportunities to interact with industry and obtain a broader sense of career possibilities. As already noted, there is also an increased interest in professional graduate programs, especially in the Doctor of Education and other programs linked to professional fields, with the notion that the overall degree program design and major research requirement can be more closely linked to the needs of those who may already hold senior positions in the profession.


G. A. Jones

9.3.3  Attrition and Time to Completion A third contemporary issue in doctoral education is the recurring questions of time to completion and attrition in doctoral education. While this topic has received considerable attention as part of broader discussions of doctoral education, there has been surprisingly little national research or current data collected on these issues. Based on now-dated figures, it has been estimated that almost half of all students who begin a doctoral degree do not complete the degree, and for those who do, average times to completion, which vary a great deal by field of study, are frequently 5–6 years (Maldonado et al. 2013). These problems have raised serious questions concerning the appropriateness of degree requirements, student funding and supervision. While institutions and programs have tried to address these problems through program reforms and guaranteed funding, there is clearly a need for more systematic analysis of data on attrition and time to completion. There has been surprisingly little research on doctoral education in Canada.

9.4  Conclusions This paper has provided an overview of doctoral education in Canada. The Canadian model of doctoral education can be viewed as a variation on the model found in the United States. Canadian universities offer doctoral programs in specific fields of study, and these programs include a coursework requirement (which is generally less that the amount of coursework required by American universities and can be quite minimal in some fields of study), a comprehensive requirement demonstrating knowledge of the field, the development of a research proposal and appropriate ethical approvals and the completion of a thesis under the supervision of a thesis committee composed of university professors and successfully examined by a committee that includes an external examiner. Students work closely with a supervisor, often collaborating on research projects or publications. Doctoral students pay tuition, though at many universities, there is an expectation that doctoral students will receive funding from scholarships and university employment income that will cover tuition and basic living costs. The Canadian approach to doctoral education is highly decentralized, with each individual university assuming responsibility for determining the specific requirements of degree programs and, for the most part, monitoring and assessing the quality of these programs. There has been substantive growth in both the number of doctoral programs and overall doctoral enrolment over the last two decades, in large part in response to an increasing emphasis on research, development and innovation based on the assumption that there will be an increasing need for highly education human resources in almost all sectors of the economy. Approximately 40% of individuals with doctoral degrees are employed in the postsecondary sector, and 60% are employed in other sectors of the economy.

9  Doctoral Education in Canada


The expansion of doctoral education in Canada has raised serious issues related to labour market outcomes. The increasing employment of university teachers on short-term contracts, often paid on a per-course basis, has raised important questions about the changing nature of academic careers and whether those aspiring to tenure-stream positions are appropriately informed about the realities of the academic labour market. Empirical studies of labour market outcomes, however, paint a fairly positive picture of the doctoral degree in Canada. Employment and salary levels are higher than other levels of education. An increasing number of doctoral graduates are employed in nonacademic careers, though many doctoral students continue to find full-time academic positions working at universities in Canada or in universities in other countries.

References Barbaric, D., & Jones, G.  A. (2017). International faculty in Canada: Recruitment and transition processes. In M. Yudkevich, P. G. Altbach, & L. E. Rumbley (Eds.), International faculty in higher education: Comparative perspectives on recruitment, integration and impact (pp. 51–75). New York: Routledge. Bissell, C. (1977). The recovery of a Canadian tradition in higher education. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 7(2), 1–10. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (2014). Tri-council policy statement: Ethical conduct for research involving humans. Ottawa: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Desjardins, L. (2012). Profile and labour market outcomes of doctoral graduates from Ontario universities. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. Edge, J., & Munro, D. (2015). Inside and outside the academy: Valuing and preparing PhDs for careers. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada. El Masri, A., Choubak, M., & Litchmore, R. (2015). The global competition for international students as future immigrants: The role of Ontario universities in translating government policy into institutional practice. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Field, C.  C., & Jones, G.  A. (2016). A survey of sessional faculty in Ontario publicly-funded universities. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education, OISE-University of Toronto. Field, C. C., Jones, G. A., Karram Stephenson, G., & Khoyetsyan, A. (2014). The “Other” university teachers: Non-full-time instructors at Ontario Universities. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Fisher, D., Rubenson, K., Bernatchez, J., Clift, R., Jones, G., Lee, J., MacIvor, M., Meredith, J., Shanahan, T., & Trottier, C. (2006). Canadian federal policy and post-secondary education. Vancouver: Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training, University of British Columbia. Friedland, M.  L. (2002). The University of Toronto: A history. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity. (2004). Reinventing innovation and commercialization policy in Ontario. Toronto: The Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity, University of Toronto.


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Jones, G. A. (1991). Modest modifications and structural stability: Higher education in Ontario. Higher Education, 21(4), 573–587. Jones, G. A. (1996). Governments, governance, and Canadian universities. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. XI, pp.  337–371). New  York: Agathon Press. Jones, G. A. (2013). The horizontal and vertical fragmentation of academic work and the challenge for academic governance and leadership. Asia Pacific Education Review, 14(1), 75–83. Jones, G. A., & Gopaul, B. (2012). Doctoral education and the global university: Student mobility, hierarchy and Canadian government policy. In A. Nelson & I. Wei (Eds.), The global university: Past, present and future perspectives (pp. 189–209). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Jones, G. A., & Weinrib, J. (2011). Globalization and higher education in Canada. In R. King, S. Marginson, & R. Naidoo (Eds.), Handbook on globalization and higher education (pp. 222– 240). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Jones, G. A., Shanahan, T., & Goyan, P. (2001). University governance in Canadian higher education. Tertiary Education and Management, 7(2), 135–148. Jonker, L. (2016). Ontario’s PhD Graduates from 2009: Where are they now? Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Looker, E. D. (2015). Canadian Association for Graduate Studies 41st statistical report. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Graduate Studies. Maldonado, V., Wiggers, R., & Arnold, C. (2013). So you want to earn a PhD? The attraction, realities, and outcomes of pursuing a doctorate. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. Mathews, R., & Steele, J. (1969). The struggle for Canadian universities. Toronto: New Press. Ontario Council on Graduate Studies Task Force on Professional Skills. (2011). Draft report. Toronto: Ontario Council on Graduate Studies. Rose, M. (2012). Graduate student professional development: A survey with recommendations. Report prepared for the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies in conjunction with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Graduate Studies. Sá, C. (2010). Canadian provinces and public policies for university research. Higher Education Policy, 23(3), 335–357. Skolnik, M. L. (1989). How academic program review can foster intellectual conformity and stifle diversity of thought and method in the university. Journal of Higher Education, 60(6), 619–643. Trilokekar, R.  D., Jones, G.  A., & Shubert, A. (Eds.). (2009). Canada’s universities go global. Toronto: James Lorimer and Company. Weinrib, J., & Jones, G. A. (2014). Largely a matter of degrees: Quality assurance and Canadian universities. Policy and Society, 33(3), 225–236. Williams, G. (2005). Doctoral education in Canada: 1900–2005. Ottawa: Canadian Association for Graduate Studies.

Part III

Doctoral Education in East Asian Systems

Chapter 10

Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges Akira Arimoto

10.1  Introduction It was very difficult for Japan to institutionalize doctoral education as well as a graduate school system during the Meiji Restoration when the country started to establish a modern higher education system by importing advanced models from western countries. During this process, Japan focused on borrowing from the German higher education model with its significant focus on research and regarded at the time as the most advanced system in the world. Although the German model was widely used as benchmark by various countries, some like the USA successfully established their own system by creating “graduate schools” in the latter half of the nineteenth century, while Japan was not successful in promoting its own system. This chapter approaches the institutionalization of doctoral education in Japan from an international comparative perspective, focusing on the USA and Japan. It also discusses the current issues related to doctoral education in Japan. The German model was the prevailing one in the prewar period, while the US model emerged as dominant in the postwar period. In the latter half in the nineteenth century, the USA paid a great deal of attention to the German model and imported their research-driven teaching approach which in turn led to establishing the first graduate school in the world—Johns Hopkins University in 1876. In addition, the USA tried to initiate a department system instead of a chair system which was imported by Japan in 1893 (Terasaki 1973; Amano 2009). Japan also introduced an elective system, based on a model of research orientation, to its traditional liberal arts education dating back to the medieval universities.

A. Arimoto (*) Research Institute for Higher Education, Hyogo University, Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



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Japan imported the US model in the postwar period and reformed the graduate school on the basis of the US model of doctoral education. However, teaching reforms were not successfully implemented because the German model had considerable influence in Japanese universities dating back to the prewar period. There were some disciplinary differences in adopting the US model of doctoral education. For example, gakubu (faculties) in the disciplines of engineering, medicine, and agriculture were more successful at introducing the US model of katei hakase (doctoral degree based on coursework). On the other hand, the disciplines of humanities, social science, and arts promoted the traditional approach known as ronbun hakase (doctoral degree based on a dissertation). Japan imported ippan kyoiku (general education) instead of kyoyo kyoiku (liberal arts education) from the USA, but it changed considerably after 1991 when the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) instituted a series of educational reforms. As will be discussed, the institutionalization of doctoral education in Japan has been occurring for more than a century, based on the German and US models. In this sense, it can be said that Japan’s doctoral education has not developed independently but has always been connected to the German and US models. The Japanese higher education model can be defined as a “combination” of various foreign models, as Clark (1983) has pointed out.

10.2  Institutionalization of Doctoral Education 10.2.1  International Comparison of Institutionalization Graduate school was institutionalized in Japan for the first time at Tokyo University in 1880, only 4 years after the first graduate school had been established in the USA in 1876. At Tokyo University, there were two units: the undergraduate course unit (kenkyuka) for teaching orientation and the graduate course unit (daigakuin) with a research orientation. The former was based on the French model, and the latter was based on the American model (Terasaki 1975). Doctoral education was institutionalized as an organizational form (graduate course or graduate school), but it took a long time to reach its present stage of functioning. For example, graduate school did not have core components such as budget, facilities and equipment, curriculum, teaching organization, coursework and schooling, etc. Instead, the graduate course unit was seen as “attached” to the dominant undergraduate unit (Ichikawa 1995). In this sense, it is not surprising that graduate education was regarded as “a stepping stone” for the students during their job seeking after their undergraduate study.

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges


10.3  T  rend Toward the Institutionalization of Doctoral Education in Japan 10.3.1  German Influence on Doctoral Education A doctoral degree was necessary for recruitment as a professor in European countries like Germany in the latter half of the nineteenth century when the first graduate school was established in Japan. Germany was a center of learning at that time, attracting international students from many countries throughout the world including the USA and Japan. They returned to their own countries after completing their study, not only with the German doctoral degree but also with an understanding of the German orientation to research. For example, American students who studied in Germany returned to the USA and established the first graduate school in the world at Johns Hopkins University (1876) (Oleson 1979). Although a graduate school already existed at Yale University in 1860, it was the newly established graduate school at Johns Hopkins that proved to be a turning point in the higher education history both in the USA and in the rest of the world. In the late nineteenth century, academics were required to obtain doctoral degrees to begin their academic careers and especially for promotion to professorship. For example, the graduates holding a Ph.D. issued by Johns Hopkins in addition to the graduates holding Ph.D. issued by German universities were recruited and promoted to positions of professorship in the USA. During the earlier period, honorary doctoral degrees were also awarded in order to meet the increased demand for professoriate positions, since there were few actual Ph.D. holders in the job market. Soon after, however, an earned doctoral degree became a “union card” for starting their professorship. As Table  10.1 shows, in Japan, more than half the professorships in Teikoku Daigaku (Imperial University) established in 1886 were held by doctoral degree holders. According to Ikuo Amano (2013), among all academic staff (137), there were 78 full professors and 42 assistant professors. Among the full professors, the number of hakase (the doctoral degree holders) was 63 (80.8%), and foreign degree holders were 28 (44.4%) among the 63 doctoral degree holders. Among 137 doctoral degrees obtained during 1887–1898 in Japan, 132 (95%) were offered by nomination (suisen hakase) by daigaku hyogikai (the board of trustee), and only 7 (5%) were the actual graduates from the graduate school (Amano 2013).

10.3.2  Formalism of Doctoral Degree Although doctoral degrees were granted, we are not sure about the quality of these degrees because the majorities were granted through nomination by the hyogikai. In other words, doctoral degrees were granted by “nomination” rather than individual application and the decisions of thesis committees. This means that social meaning


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Table 10.1  Composition of academics by discipline at Teikoku Daigaku (1891) Law 4 10 (5) Bachelor 1

Foreign teachers Professor Doctor

Others Total 11 Asst. prof. Bachelor 1 Others Total Total

1 16 (5)

Medicine 2 18 (2) 2 (2) 20 8

8 30 (4)

Engineering 3 14 (6) 2 (1) 1 17 9 (2) 1 10 30 (9)

Letter 3 5 (2) 1 4 10

13 (3)

Science 1 12 (10)

12 4 (1) 1 5 18 (11)

Agriculture 4 4 (3) 3 (1) 1 8 17 1 18 30 (4)

Total 17 63 (28) 9 (4) 6 78 39 (3) 3 42 137 (36)

Source: Teikoku Daigaku Ichiran, 1891 (Meiji 24 Nendo) Source: Amano (2013) Note: ( )Number of academics who got Ph.D. and other degrees in the foreign universities

of a doctoral degree in Japan differs from those from Western universities. The formalism is probably related to the characteristics of Teikoku Daigaku in a sense that it was established solely for the training of the senior intellectual bureaucrats and not for the training of academics as pointed out by Shigeru Nakayama in his book Birth of Teikoku Daigaku (Nakayama 1977). In this context, Teikoku Daigaku was not working well in the doctoral training of students compared to the USA, even though the Japanese graduate school was designed to be a purely academic research institution. The number of graduate students at Teikoku Daigaku increased to 875 in 1909, at which time in the USA, the number of graduate students was the highest at Columbia University (797), followed by Chicago (441), Harvard (423), California (414), and Pennsylvania (407) (Ushiogi 1991). It is therefore true to say that Teikoku Daigaku was the largest graduate school in the world at that time. However, the number of graduate students decreased to 412 in 1910 and was down to 186 in 1914. The reason for such a drastic decrease was mostly due to the increase in tuition fees after 1891, whereas prior to that Japanese graduate education was free. The number of doctoral grantees was only 70 (5%) of 1283 all degree grantees. Many graduate students did not enroll in graduate school to become researchers or academics but to become bureaucrats or diplomats.

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges


10.4  Current Doctoral Education Systems 10.4.1  I nstitutionalization of Doctoral Education in the Postwar Period The School Education Law of 1947 established for the first time in Japanese higher education that graduate school would be an institution for both research and teaching simultaneously. However, pre- and postwar types of graduate schools had coexisted for a while in Japan after postwar periods although a new system was established. The old style graduate school was positioned outside the education systems in the postwar period, and this type maintained a high degree of research and training. The old type represents the idea that graduate school is a pure academic research institution just like Teikoku Daigaku. Compared with the first type, the new type of graduate school was institutionalized within the new educational system in postwar Japan. The new type of graduate school is based on the US style of graduate education such as full-time schooling, the required credits necessary for graduation, the school curriculum, the coursework and schooling, etc. During the US occupation period, the Civil Information and Education Section (CI & E) introduced educational reforms, and Daigaku Kijun Kyokai (Japan University Accreditation Association, JUAA) supported and promoted this. The graduate school based on the US model was institutionalized after initial difficulties with the strong support of Daigaku Kijun Kyokai in the institutionalization process (Ito 1995). The graduate school establishment standard was introduced in 1950 when four private universities (Doshisha University, Ritsumeikan University, Kwansei Gakuin University, and Kansai University) established new graduate schools. Since then, other national and local universities have established graduate schools, including 12 national and 4 local institutions in 1953, when the new system of higher education sent out its first graduates. The new system could offer doctoral degrees as well as others such as master degrees. At the master’s level, a student is required to stay at least a year in full-time study and also to take more than 30 credit hours in formal classes. The master program enrollees are also required to complete a thesis as part of their degree. At the doctoral level, a student is required to stay more than 3 years in full-time study and to take more than 50 credit hours in classes. The students are required to complete a dissertation. The minimum number of years required in graduate school is 2 years in the master’s course and 5 years (3 additional years after master degree) in the doctoral course. At the doctoral level, there are two tracks—one is 3 years after a masters; the other is 5 years of integrated masters’ and doctoral courses. In reality, however, the new graduate schools were established without the core components such as their own teaching unit, the administration office, the facilities and equipment, and the budget and finance similar to the old graduate schools during the prewar period. This formalism has led to a lot of discrepancies between the system and the realities. In reality, the old type of graduate school established before


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the war remained, although the US type of graduate school system was adopted after the war. The School Education Law was revised in 2003, and Senmonshoku Daigakuin (professional graduate school) was established for the purpose of training of high-­ degree professionals.

10.5  Doctoral Student Enrollment and Graduates 10.5.1  Number of Doctoral Students The number of doctoral course students has continued to increase in the postwar period. The number of students increased up to 10.1 times in 45 years from 7429 in 1960 to 74,907 in 2005. However, in the period 2010–2014, the number has drastically decreased from 74,432 in 2010 to 73,704 in 2014 (see Table 10.2). The pattern of constant increase followed by a sudden decrease from 1960 to 2014 is seen in the disciplines of humanities, social science, engineering, and medicine and dentistry. The rate of decrease is likely to be slightly larger in the fields of humanities and social science than in engineering and medicine and dentistry. As of 2014, the share of doctoral course students by discipline is as follows: medicine and dentistry (28%), engineering (18%), social science (9%), humanities (8%), science (7%), and agriculture (5%) (see Fig. 10.1). The share of professional course students by discipline is social science (77%), education (10%), others (9%), and followed by engineering (2%) (see Fig. 10.2). The structure of doctoral courses and professional school courses is different, because in the professional school, social science is the highest. In the doctoral course, the share of medicine and dentistry is the highest among all the fields, followed by engineering, although in the master’s course the share of engineering is the highest, followed by medicine and dentistry. This can be explained by the fact that the students who specialize of engineering are apt to enter the business world immediately after their master’s degree without enrolling in a doctoral program, while the students in medicine and dentistry tend to enroll in a doctoral course because a doctoral degree is needed to become a medical doctor. The number of doctoral students increased 1.8 times from 8505  in 1991 to 15,418  in 2014. Among the eight disciplines of education, health and medicine, agriculture, engineering, science, social science, humanities, and others, students enrolled in health and engineering increased the most rapidly: health increased 1.9 times from 3206 in 1991 to 6089 in 2014, while engineering increased 1.6 times from 1715 to 2738 (MEXT 2014). As of 2014, male students account for 67% and females 33% (MEXT 2014). The percentage of males is higher in almost all fields including engineering, medicine and dentistry, and science, but females are higher in fields such as humanities, home economics, and arts (MEXT 2014). As of 2015, the enrollment number (and share)

Humanities 1016 1281 1876 2465 2860 3227 3594 4675 6871 7662 7057 6713 6456 6248 6149

Source: MEXT (2014)

1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Total 7429 11,683 13,243 14,904 18,211 21,541 28,354 43,774 62,481 74,907 74,432 74,779 74,316 73,917 73,704

Social science 894 1086 1727 2198 2430 2437 2654 3727 6195 7553 7024 6908 6693 6503 6438

Science 900 1245 2263 2355 2589 2472 3067 5033 6410 6460 5120 5255 5178 5171 5237

Engineering 391 1282 2356 2522 2358 2403 4315 9030 11,818 13,927 13,822 13,944 13,741 13,503 13,297

Agriculture 339 424 839 1008 1095 1096 1742 3249 4204 4318 3900 3890 3798 3718 3638

Table 10.2  Transformation of doctoral course students by field (1960–2014) Medicine and dentistry 3598 5932 3445 3428 5738 8561 11,147 14,304 18,236 20,158 20,289 20,582 20,437 20,504 20,427 Others 111 169 324 367 453 501 647 1007 1815 3740 4750 4926 5616 6221 6820

Home economics – – – 27 33 57 73 151 215 383 354 324 287 243 218

Education and teacher training 171 247 392 507 548 603 668 930 1537 1851 2138 2201 2267 2246 2259

Arts 9 17 21 27 71 76 123 177 347 692 759 709 696 689 682

Others – – – – 36 108 324 1491 4833 8163 9219 9327 9147 8871 8539

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges 173


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30 25 20 15 10 5 0


Social science 10.1




Home Economics 0.5
















































































Engineering Agriculture Medicine & Dentistry 18.6 5.8 26.9



Fig. 10.1  Share of student composition by discipline: Graduate school doctoral degree course (2005–2015). (Source: MEXT 2015) 120 100 80

60 40 20 0 Humanities

Social science


Engineering Agricurture.

Medicine & Home Pharmacy Education Denstry Economics



















































Fig. 10.2 Share of student composition by discipline: Professional school degree course (2005–2015)

of doctoral course students who also have a full-time job is 5872 (38.4%). The percentage of the international students is 2290 (15.0%). As for Senmonshoku Daigakuin (professional graduate school), full-time students number 3306 (48.9%) and international students number 522 (7.7%). In this sector, the number of adult students is higher, and the number of international students is lower (MEXT 2015).

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges


Fig. 10.3  Number of doctoral degree (1971–2011). (Source: MEXT 2011)

10.5.2  Number of Doctoral Degree Grantees As Fig. 10.3 shows, the total number of doctoral degree grantees has increased over the 35 years from 1971 to 2006. However, in the past 10 years, the number decreased 10.9% from 17,860 in 2006 to 15,911 in 2015. The rate of increase and decrease was almost the same for all academic fields. As of 2011, the share of the doctoral degree grantees by discipline is medicine (39%), engineering (23%), humanities and social science (13%), science (9%), Gakujutsu (8%), agriculture (7%), and home economics (1%) (MEXT 2015). As mentioned above, it is clear that the rate of decline has become apparent in all disciplines, and this trend may not reverse any time soon. The rapid decline of doctoral degrees awarded has a warning sign for Japanese academic society because doctoral degree grantees are considered to be one of the most important indicators not only in training researchers but also in forecasting research productivity in the future. A series of factors explain the declining trend. First, the collapse of economic growth negatively impacts the number studying for a doctoral degree. Average annual income decreased almost 1.30 million yen from 6.64 million yen in 1994 to 5.28 million yen in 2014 within 20 years (Kousei Rodosho 2015). This is one of the most important factors behind the decrease of students’ access to the bachelor degree, master’s degree, and even doctoral degrees. The national government’s public expenditure for higher education has been the lowest among the OECD countries for many years, and so it is natural to suppose that parents must continue to pay high tuition fees regardless of their decreasing annual incomes. As far as undergraduate education is concerned, the enrollment of the 18-year-­ old cohort in universities and colleges has reached 56% before beginning to decline. This trend is considered to be caused by the decreasing average annual incomes in addition to the decreasing trend of the 18-year-old population from 2.05 million in 1990 to 1.18 million in 2014 (MEXT 2015). Second, the decreasing rate of job placement is also related to the trend. We will discuss this matter in a later section.


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Third, scholarship (gakumon) itself has perhaps become less attractive to students of the current generation. The factors of the economy and job placement are related to the external pressures outside academia. On the other hand, the scholarship is related to the academic work such as research and teaching which are caused by the pressures derived from inside academia. With this lack of attractiveness, the number enrolling in doctoral programs will likely continue to remain low. The low attractiveness of scholarship might be explained by two points. First is that young students do not see value in scholarship. In this context, it is interesting to note that Japanese education is now heavily involved in active learning (or, study) from the kindergartens to the universities and colleges (CCE 2012). If this kind of paradigm conversion is successful, it might be possible for many more students to appreciate the value of scholarship. The second is that academia itself is not as attractive to students as it once was. A lot of students who lack the motivation to engage in scholarship are enrolled in colleges and universities in the massification and universalization stages of higher education development. The faculty’s teaching ability is a key to enhancing students’ learning. A series of reforms with a focus on the transformation of teaching from the traditional approach to a more modern one are critical in encouraging students’ active learning and study. As a result of teaching reforms throughout educational system, a lot of students may have renewed interest in scholarship and are expected to enroll in graduate courses including the masters and doctorate. As a result, graduate schools, especially doctoral courses, may accept the most brilliant students who are ready to study by themselves and have less need for academics’ teaching. The Humboldtian model of the research-teaching-study nexus is thought to be working most usefully in the doctoral course by the effects of this kind of process (Von Humboldt 1910). However, the model might not be applicable in the massified higher education.

10.5.3  Declining Trend of the Job Placement Rate The number of doctoral students who gain employment has increased during the postwar periods from 2740 in 1968 to 16,801 in 2007, although it decreased after 2008 (MEXT 2011, 2014, 2015) reflecting the trend of decreasing numbers of doctoral degree grantees as previously described. This may have resulted from the decreasing job opportunities for doctoral degree holders. Currently the availability of job in Japan is insufficient to provide for all doctoral graduates. The traditional doctoral course students used to take academic jobs reaching a peak of 37.0% in 1991, decreasing to 23.3% in 2014. On the other hand, posts such as the researchers and engineers increased from 22.3% in 1991 to 41.3% in 2014 (Table 10.3). It is not surprising that students are hesitant to enroll in doctoral programs because they fear for the return on their investment in graduate education. It is not

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges


Table 10.3  Trend of employment by occupation in doctoral course graduates Occupation Researcher and engineer (professional except teaching and medical areas) Doctor in medicine, dentistry, veterinary, pharmacist, and other medical worker Teachers except academics Academics Others (transportation, communication, production, security business, etc.) Service workers Sales and clerical workers Managerial occupation

1991 912 (22.3%)

2014 4358 (41.3%)

1404 (34.1%) 2598 (24.6%) 130 (3.2%) 321 (3.0%) 1520 (37.0%) 2463 (23.3%) 76 (1.8%) 265 (2.5%) 18 (0.4%) 28 (0.7%) 18 (0.4%)

26 (0.2%) 373 (3.5%) 159 (1.5%)

Source: MEXT (2014)

helped by the fact that many come from families with low incomes, and there is a lack of financial aid including scholarships. According to a national survey (NISTEP 1999), masters students think economics and employment factors are critical to their decision about doctoral study. In the survey, master students’ major concerns are financial support, employment prospects, improvement in salary and promotion for doctoral graduates, more opportunities to gain an academic post, better conditions for younger researchers with a reform of the contract system, improvements in the research environment, learning skills useful in the business world, etc. (NISTEP 1999). These factors are summarized in three major areas: financial supports for doctoral students, job placement for doctoral degree holders, and better working environments for doctoral degree holders.

10.6  Contemporary Issues in Doctoral Education 10.6.1  Declining Symptom of Academic Productivity It is clear that the research productivity of Japanese academics is declining in terms of average paper production, according to an international comparison among the main countries including the USA, China, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan (Table 10.4). Japan was ranked second in the world from 1999 to 2001; however, their rank was overtaken by China, Germany, and the UK within 3 years (2009– 2011), and the rank for Japan dropped to fifth. Paper production was competitively higher in other countries, especially in China, compared to that in Japan, even though Japan’s paper production increased constantly from 2000 to 2013. The declining ranks are found across all academic fields according to the NSF (National Science Foundation) data, showing a decline


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Table 10.4  Paper production by country Country 1999–2001(average) USA Japan UK Germany France Italy Canada China Russia Spain 2009–2011(average) USA China Germany UK Japan France Italy Canada Spain India




240,912 73,844 70,411 57,484 49,395 32,738 32,101 30,125 27,210 23,149

31 9.5 9.1 8.7 6.4 4.2 4.1 3.9 3.5 3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

308,745 138,457 86,321 84,978 76,149 63,160 52,100 50,798 43,773 43,144

26.8 12 7.5 7.4 6.6 5.5 4.5 4.4 3.8 3.7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Source: Saka and Kuwahara (2012, p. ii)

in Japan from second to the third ranking in the 13 years from 2000 to 2013, with the rate of decline even more apparent since 2005 (NSF 2014). The reason for declining competitiveness of Japanese researchers during recent years has been explained in terms of declining academic productivity at the national universities (Saka and Kuwahara 2012; Arimoto 2015). This is perhaps related directly to individual problem of the academics who are involved in publishing articles. At the same time, however, it is related firmly to the graduate programs especially in regard to scientific socialization processes that are offered to the students during the doctoral training process. The current situation of doctoral training is facing several challenges as follows: the declining doctoral degree grantees, the decreasing job placement numbers, students’ gloomy views about scholarship, and the dysfunction of the research-­ teaching-­ study nexus. These problems suggest the academic productivity of Japanese academics will remain troubled will into the future.

10  Doctoral Education in Japan: Historical Development and Challenges


10.6.2  Decrease in Number of Nobel Prize Winners Japanese Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences such as medicine and physiology, physics, and chemistry numbered 21 scientists in 2015. As far as the scientists awarded in the twenty-first century are concerned, Japan is ranked the second after the USA. The most important condition behind Japan’s success in producing Nobel Prize laureates were laureates’ individual abilities, as well as excellent research environments in their universities, especially the graduate schools, which provided these laureates with a distinguished teaching and research process. Harriet Zuckerman points out that the Nobel laureates were born in the research network of the former Nobel laureates (Zuckerman 1977). Considering these past conditions that contributed to the excellence of Japanese academics, we fear the present situation of graduate schools may not be able to produce future laureates. In an interview with a professor at one of the former imperial universities (Teikoku Daigaku), the professor highlighted four problems facing the current Japanese research environments (Arimoto 2016): • The declining of Uneihikofukin (management expense grant) in the national university in the amount of 140,000 million yen since 2004 when it was introduced into the national university sector; a substantial rise in labor costs for the academic staff because of reduction of the number of academic staff due to budget cut. • The increase of what is required of academic staff due to a series of academic staff reduction; the decrease of posts for younger academics, especially those under 35 years old; the unstable positions for the younger academics due to a contract system which was introduced in 1997. • The difficulty of study abroad by the younger academics given their unstable positions. Without addressing these problems, Japan is not likely to continue to produce Nobel laureates.

10.7  Concluding Remarks Historically, the doctoral education program in Japan was institutionalized at Teikoku Daigaku in 1886 by importing its model from the USA, in which the German model of research had a great deal of impact on Japanese academia. During the postwar period, the US model was imported as part of a formal higher education system, although its focus on coursework, schooling, and katei hakase was not easily institutionalized into the doctoral degree for many years, especially in the disciplines of humanities and social science due to the deeply embedded German model of higher education in these fields. In this paper, we have pointed out some important facts related to the history of doctoral education in Japan. First, doctoral training as well as graduate school was institutionalized in the university sector of Teikoku Daigaku in the nineteenth


A. Arimoto

c­ entury which is relatively early compared to other countries. Nevertheless, development during the prewar period was limited due to the belief that training highlevel bureaucrats was considered to be more important than training academic researchers. Second, doctoral education was introduced on the basis of the US model in the pre- and the postwar period. However, it took a long time for Japanese graduate schools to institutionalize the core components of graduate school such as coursework and credit systems, budget, and teaching organization. Third, despite its weak system, the number of doctoral students increased for almost 40 years in the postwar period, but it has been declining in the last 10 years mostly due to the economic stagnation of the country. The decrease in doctoral enrollments portends negatively for the future social and scientific development of the country through its decreasing research and teaching productivity on the international stage. Fourth, these phenomena may suggest that it is fairly difficult to produce scholars who have a very high competency in the global knowledge market, especially in relation to nurturing potential future Nobel laureates.

References Amano, I. (2009). Birth of University (in Japanese). Chuko Shinsho. Tokyo: Chuou Koronsha Publishing Co. Amano, Ikuo (2013). The age of Higher Education (in Japanese), 1st ed. Tokyo: Chuo Koronsha Publishing Co. Arimoto, A. (2015, August). Declining symptom of academic productivity in the Japanese research-university sector. Higher Education, 70, 1–22. Arimoto, A. (2016, March). National survey on education management: Interview survey report (in Japanese). Kurashiki Sakuyo University. CCE (Central Council of Education). (2012). The way of university education for the sake of constructing new future vision (in Japanese). Final Report. Clark, B. R. (1983). The higher education system: Academic organization in cross-national perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ichikawa, S. (1995). Japanese structure of graduate school (in Japanese). In S.  Ichikawa & K.  Kitamura (Eds.), Modern graduate school education (pp.  276–288). Tokyo: Tamagawa University Press. Ito, A. (1995). History of Japanese graduate school (in Japanese). In S. Ichikawa & K. Kitamura (Eds.), Modern graduate school education (pp. 16–38). Tokyo: Tamagawa University Press. Kousei Rodosho (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare). (2015, July). Basic survey on people’s lives (in Japanese). MEXT. (2011). Education basic statistics (in Japanese). MEXT. (2014). Education basic statistics (in Japanese). MEXT. (2015). Education basic statistics (in Japanese). Nakayama, S. (1977). The rise of Imperial University (in Japanese). Tokyo: Chuou Koronsha Publishing Co. NISTEP (National Institute of Science and Technology Policy). (1999, March). Survey on the master course students’ consciousness of career decision (in Japanese). Survey material 165. NSF (National Science Foundation). (2014). Science and engineering indicators 2014.

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Oleson, A., & Voss, J. (Eds.). (1979). The organization of knowledge in modern America, 1860– 1920. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Saka, A. & Kuwahara, T. (2012). Benchmarking scientific research 2012: Bibliometric analysis on dynamic alteration of research activity in the world and Japan (in Japanese). Research Unit for Science and Technology Analysis and Indicators, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP). Tokyo: MEXT. Terasaki, M. (1973). Historical research prorogue of chair system: Japanese case (in Japanese). Daigaku Rnshu 6. Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University. Terasaki, M. (1975). Materials on graduate school and degree system (in Japanese). Daigaku Kenkyu Note 19. Hiroshima: RIHE, Hiroshima University. Ushiogi, M. (1991). New trend of graduate school (in Japanese) (pp. 5–13), IDE, No. 329. Von Humboldt, W. (1910). On the spirit and the organizational framework of intellectual institutions in Berlin (trans: Shils, E.), Minerva 8 (1970): 242–250. Zuckerman, H. (1977). Scientific elite: Nobel laureates in the United States. New York: The Free Press.

Chapter 11

Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent Research Hub Heejin Lim and Jung Cheol Shin

11.1  Introduction South Korean (hereafter, Korea or Korean) higher education has experienced rapid growth in doctoral education since the late 1990s due to the growth of the undergraduate population and the emergence of knowledge economy in the 1990s and 2000s. With that growth, Korea’s doctoral degree holder per 1000 populations has grown 210% during last 15 years between 2000 and 2015. Based on such statistics, doctoral education in Korean universities may seem to be well established in terms of quantitiative growth. However, Korea is one of the countries sending the greatest number of students to study abroad (Shin et al. 2014). In addition, over 40% of their academics at 4-year higher education institutions earned their doctoral degree from abroad (Shin et al. 2016). This implies that doctoral education at Korean universities is still relatively underdeveloped compared with well-established doctoral education  systems in countries such as the USA, Germany, and Japan despite Korea’s rapid growth of doctoral education in the last two decades. These contradictory facts might be quite similar in other East Asian higher education systems such as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Before the 1990s, Korean universities used to focus on teaching undergraduates and trained their doctoral students through study abroad which was the core channel for importing cutting-edge knowledge from advanced countries. The dual approach—training doctoral students and importing knowledge from abroad and training their undergraduate students—were working well before the knowledge economy emerged in the 1990s. The ‘research’ function of universities in Korea started to increase significantly since mid 1990s and the government induced Korean universities to produce local knowledge as a basis of its social and industrial develH. Lim (*) · J. C. Shin Department of Education, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



H. Lim and J. C. Shin

opment and also to train researchers using the localized knowledge (Shin and Lee 2015). Consequently, Korean academics’ research performance has rapidly developed with the upgraded doctoral training programs which enable academics to work together with their doctoral students. In their international comparative study, Teichler et al. (2013) reported that Korean academics have the highest level of productivity along with their colleagues in Japan and the Netherlands. However, the transformation from “knowledge import” to “knowledge production” takes longer than the policymakers’ wishes in reality. Well-established doctoral education systems are possible only when the academic society has a mature academic culture within it, not simply by the inputting funding or by the increasing the number of doctoral students. It may be possible for smaller higher education systems such as in Singapore or Hong Kong to import the whole systems by attracting talented academics from abroad, but this is impossible for the midsize higher education systems such as in Korea or Taiwan. Hong Kong and Singapore were very successful in enhancing their global reputation and ranking status through importing western doctoral training systems. In particular, both countries successfully recruited talented foreign scholars through high salaries. However, this type of initiative might not have much success in Korea because of barriers such as a closed academic culture for foreign scholars to teach in a Korean university (Kim 2016) as well as issues related to Korean language. This chapter will broaden our understanding of doctoral training offered in Korean universities by examining its historical development and describe the current status by focusing on the growth of doctoral training under the government initiatives. In addition, this chapter provides in-depth information on current doctoral education based on students’ survey data. Finally, it discusses some challenges that Korean doctoral education programs should overcome if they are to be competitive in the knowledge economy.

11.2  Development of Doctoral Education 11.2.1  Historical Background The first graduate school in Korea was opened in October 1946 when Seoul National University was established under American military trusteeship. Prior to that, the only ‘university’ on the Korean peninsula was Kyungsung Imperial University which was established in 1924 under the Japanese colonial government. The Kyungsung Imperial University was modeled on the Tokyo Imperial University, where the notion of university was largely adopted from German-based Humboldt model (e.g., Kim 2007; Shin 2015). The imperial Japanese government used higher education as a tool to reproduce its colonial power through fostering elite bureaucrats. Access for higher education was extremely limited, especially for local Korean people where only 0.3% of the entire population was eligible for receiving

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 185

higher education (Chung 2002). There were a few doctoral programs offered at Kyungsung Imperial University (but no master degree programs). The purpose of the doctoral program was not to nurture future scholars nor to practice cutting-edge research (Chung 2002). Instead, the Kyungsung Imperial University’s main objective was to develop highly intellectual bureaucrats and put little emphasis on training academics (Lee 1989). After its independence from Japan, the Korean education system rapidly transformed itself to more of an American model, with aid from the US government. The basic education system transformed to 6-3-3-4 system, and the existing three-­ semester-­based academic calendar has changed to a two-semester-based system following the American model (Umakoshi 1995). Seoul National University was established in October 1946 by merging the former Kyungsung Imperial University and various professional colleges (e.g., Kyungsung Medical School). The newly organized modern university comprised nine colleges and one general graduate school modeled on the typical US university (Kim 2008), a dual system of undergraduate and graduate education, departmental systems in academic administration, coursework-based education, and the credit hour system. Master degree courses were the main focus of the graduate school during the early years, and the doctoral program was established almost a decade later in 1957. The US influence on Korean higher education was more significant during the mid-1950–1960s, due to the US government aid program. One of the first and largest aid contracts was made by the US Foreign Operations Administration between the University of Minnesota and the Seoul National University, in which the objective was to “upgrade the faculty members’ competence to those of high ranking universities in the world” (Lee 1989) especially in specific discipline fields such as engineering, agriculture, and medicine (Kim 2010a, b). As a result, 218 faculty members in Seoul National University as well as 8 civil servants from the central government were sent to the University of Minnesota to receive advanced academic training. The duration of training varied from 6 months to 4 years depending on the level of training they acquired (Kim 2010a, b). By 1969, 50% of the faculty members in Seoul National University has been trained in the USA, and on their return they exercised significant influence on the introduction of new teaching and research methods found in the US higher education system (Kim 2010a, b). Consequently, the US influence on Korean higher education system and its academic culture has been dominant since then.

11.2.2  Structural Change of Doctoral Education Although much of the university governance and curriculum was restructured to match the US model during the postwar period, the doctoral training system was not completely transformed until 1975 when the degree system reforms took place. Up to that point, Korean doctoral programs were largely based on the German model with its emphasis on a dissertation and individual supervision between


H. Lim and J. C. Shin

Table 11.1  Path to earn doctoral degree in S. Korea First degree (Bachelor degree) Duration 4 years Contents Coursework (1.5 years of liberal arts + 2.5 years of foundations in each discipline)

Master degree 2 years Coursework Comprehensive exam Thesis

Doctoral degree 4 years Coursework Comprehensive exam Research proposal (prospectus) Dissertation

advisor and student. Students were able to earn a doctoral degree once they completed their dissertation and passed two foreign language examinations. To become a so-called dissertation doctor took a considerable time, and access to doctoral education was very limited under the existing system. In February 1975, the existing “dissertation-­based” program was replaced by a “coursework-based” approach in line with the US model. The new system required a minimum of 3 years’ enrollment in a doctoral program and to acquire more than 60 credits. In addition, students were able to submit their dissertation once they passed two foreign language exams as well as a comprehensive exam upon completion of their coursework. This reform was influenced by US-trained faculty who had returned to Korean universities (Umakoshi 1995). The current structure of doctoral education in Korea still largely resembles the US model, which consists of formal coursework and usually lasts for approximately 2 years. After completing coursework and passing a comprehensive examination, students present a research proposal (or “prospectus” in the US higher education context). Once the research proposal is approved, students are allowed to write their dissertation under the supervision of their advisor and advisory group. Most universities require students to have a certain level of English language proficiency (e.g., TOEFL) as a prerequisite for admission and graduation. In the late 1990s, the Korean government introduced a “Master-Ph.D. integrated” course to increase the effectiveness of doctoral education and to reduce time to complete the degree. A major objective of the new system was to attract more students to study in domestic doctoral programs, especially in science and engineering (Lee et al. 2013). In reality, there are considerable differences in terms of levels of adaptation of integrated degree programs between soft and hard disciplines. In the case of Seoul National University, only 3% of doctoral students are enrolled in an integrated course in the humanities and social science field, whereas 77% of students in the science and engineering (S&E) field are enrolled in a Master-Ph.D. program (Source: Daehakalimi 2016). Table 11.1 summarizes the general path followed to earn a doctoral degree in Korea.

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11.3  Growth of Doctoral Education 11.3.1  Increase in Student Number For a long period, the importance of graduate education was not recognized and had little visibility among Korean policymakers because most of the policy focus was on undergraduate education. By the late 1970s, the proportion of graduate students in total higher education population was still only 3.7% (6,122 master students and only 518 doctoral students) (Source: KEDI education statistics). With the exception of medicine, it was common for students to study abroad, mostly in the USA, to earn doctoral degrees. The availability of resources and the quality of domestic doctoral education were perceived as very limited. According to a government commission report published in the late 1970s, the government was addressing various problems related to domestic graduate education including the lack of education ideology, research, teaching, and talented students (Umakoshi 1995). Graduate education, including doctoral education began to expand rapidly in the 1980s. This was a result of the universal access to undergraduate education followed by an expansion of student enrollment in master degree programs. The ‘1975 reform’ of the doctoral degree system resulted in increased student enrollment since access to doctoral programs had been eased when the coursework-based system was introduced. With the rise of the knowledge-based society in the 1990s, the Korean government started to invest more heavily on expanding graduate education to promote research productivity of its universities. This expansion coincided with the economic crisis in Korea at the end of 1990s, which resulted in many undergraduate students enrolling in graduate education to enhance their job opportunities. The number of graduate students has increased almost 50-fold during the last 45 years (6,640 in 1970 and 333,478 in 2015). Such rapid expansion has made Korea a country with one of the largest population of graduate students. According to the report published in 2003 by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, there were 5.3 graduate students per 1000 population which is much higher than other advanced countries including the USA (3.8 graduate students per 1000 persons), France (2.5 persons), and Japan (1.6 persons) (Ban et  al. 2003). As Kim (2007) pointed out, it appears not only that higher education at the undergraduate level has become universal but that even graduate education is now becoming standard in Korea. As of 2015, it was reported that 13,037 persons earned their doctoral degree in Korean universities. The total national enrollment quota for graduate schools has been consistently increasing, whereas entrance quotas for undergraduate programs are decreasing with the population decline. It is noteworthy that the number of female doctoral degree holders has increased significantly during the last few decades especially in the field of arts and humanities and social science. In 2000, female doctoral degree holders numbered 1,264 but by 2015 the number had increased to 4326. This is a 3.4-fold increase in 15 years. On the other hand, the increase among male doctoral degree holders is less dramatic, going from 4889 in


H. Lim and J. C. Shin

Fig. 11.1  Increase in number of master and Ph.D. degree holders (1980–2015) (Source: KEDI (2015)

2000 to 7,199 in 2015 which is a 1.5-fold increase. The dramatic increase in female doctoral degree holders can be explained by the following factors. First, access for higher education for females has been continuously increasing since the late 1980s, and it naturally led to more access for graduate education for females. Second, although there still remains gender discrimination in the labor market, the barriers facing highly educated females wanting to enter professional job markets have been reduced which in turn has led to the increased social economic status of females in Korean society (Fig. 11.1).

11.4  G  overnment Initiatives to Establish Competitive Graduate Education 11.4.1  B  rain Korea 21 Project and Global Ph.D. Fellowship Program The Korean government’s most proactive approach to build world-class graduate education was the introduction of the Brain Korea 21(hereafter “BK21”) project in 1999. This long-term project is the biggest financial support program for higher education committed by the Korean government in its history. The major objective of the project is to increase the research competency of Korean universities and to establish Korea’s graduate education as the world-class. The project is designed to increase the research productivity of faculty members and their graduate students. It also offers various forms of financial support that can revitalize research activities by covering travel costs for attending international conference and costs related to article submission, etc. Also, the project offers a stipend to graduate students (e.g., US$600 for master students, US$1,000 for doctoral students per month) to provide a better study environment. BK21 project also allows universities to hire postdoctoral researchers, and consequently the number of domestic postdoctoral positions has increased significantly. Many studies have concluded that the research

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 189 Table 11.2  Government initiatives to build world-class graduate education

Duration Total budget(US$) Number of project team

Brain Korea 21 First stage Second stage 1999–2005 2006–2012 1.4 billion 2 billion 247 244

Third stage 2013–2019 3.1 billion 251

World-class university 2008–2013 825 million 79

Note: US$1 = KRW1000

productivity of faculty members and graduate students has increased significantly especially in S&E disciplines (e.g., Kim 2016) since the project was introduced. However, the BK21 project has also received criticism for creating a “research priority” culture in the Korean higher education system. On the other hand, the “World Class University project” (hereafter “WCU project”) is also one of the major policy initiatives introduced by the Korean government along with the Brain Korea 21 project. The WCU project was also designed to increase research competency of Korean universities through inviting globally renowned scholars to the country. The WCU project has three categories which include opening a new course and department, inviting individual foreign faculty members, and inviting world-class foreign faculty members (e.g., Nobel Prize laurates). Through inviting renowned faculty members, the project aimed to provide various learning and research opportunities for Korean graduate students (Kim et al. 2014) to enhance their learning experience (Table 11.2). Another major policy aimed to improving doctoral training in Korea is the “Global Ph.D. Fellowship” program which was introduced in 2011. Administered by the National Research Foundation, the project offers competitive financial support (US$30,000 per year) to selected Ph.D. students each year for up to 3–5 years depending on the type of their degree program (up to 3  years for general Ph.D. program and 5 years for Master-Ph.D. integrated program). Fellowship recipients are required to fulfill certain criteria to retain their financial support (e.g., to publish a certain number of articles in international journals). Among the total number of students who have received financial support, approximately 80% of the students are in the field of science and engineering. Universities like Seoul National University, KAIST, and Sungkyunkwan University had the largest share of recipients. The long-term objective of the Global Ph.D. Fellowship program is to retain high-quality students in domestic institutions and to nurture future Nobel Prize laureates from the Korean academic community (Ministry of Education 2013).


H. Lim and J. C. Shin

11.4.2  M  ilitary Service Exemption Policy for S&E Graduate Students For decades, the Korean government has been practicing science and technology-­ oriented policy for its economic development. To attract and retain more highly skilled labor in the S&E field, the government introduced its “military service exemption” incentive for doctoral students enrolled in S&E fields since 1973. Korea is one of the few countries where male citizens are required to undertake military service. All male citizens over 19 years old need to attend the service for between 21 and 24 months depending on the type of service. The exemption policy has been the major pull factor for students in S&E fields to remain in domestic institutions to earn their doctoral degree. The government recently announced its plan to abolish the exemption incentive by 2023 due to the rapid decline in the birthrate, which creates a lack of military human resources. According to the survey conducted by Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in June 2012, approximately 80% of graduate students in major research universities responded that they would choose to study abroad to earn their doctoral degree or find employment instead of completing their current degree program if the military service exemption policy was abolished. Such conflicted interest between the Ministry of National Defense and academia is expected to lead to a shortage of talented students to domestic institutions.

11.4.3  Government Evaluation on Graduate Education In 2014, the Ministry of Education announced its plan to conduct “graduate school evaluation” starting in 2016. Korean higher education, especially undergraduate programs, are currently going through intensive state-driven reforms because of the rapid decline of the student population. As a result, the government is encouraging universities to reduce their student quota through linking evaluation with financial subsidies. The government also intended to evaluate graduate schools under four categories which include research competency (e.g., faculty and graduate student research performance), university-industry linkage (e.g., employment rate of graduate students, technology transfer income), educational environment (e.g., number of students per faculty), and administration competence (e.g., ratio of students receiving scholarship) to assess the competitiveness and accountability of graduate programs (Ministry of Education 2016). However, in 2017, the government withdrew its plan due to severe opposition from universities. 

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 191

Fig. 11.2  Change in number of doctoral degree holders by disciplinary fields. (Source: KEDI Statistics/Disciplines included in STEM field (engineering, natural science, medicine, and pharmacy), disciplines included in non-STEM field (arts and humanities, social science, and education))

11.5  Current Trend of Doctoral Training 11.5.1  N  umber of Doctoral Degree Holders by Disciplinary Field As of 2015, the percentage of doctoral degree holders in non-STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics)  fields was 37.6%, and those who earned their degree in STEM fields accounted for 62.4%. The reason behind higher enrollment in STEM fields may be related to the fact that the Korean government has been promoting STEM-oriented policy for graduate education in order to nurture a more highly skilled labor force in the science and engineering fields, and there are relatively better job opportunities for graduates in STEM field compared to soft disciplines. The gap between STEM and non-STEM fields has been consistent as shown in the graph below (Fig. 11.2).

11.5.2  D  octoral Degree Grantees by Institutional Characteristics As Table 11.3 shows, among 7,901 students who received their Ph.D. degrees from 47 universities in 2010, almost 70% were trained in 21 research-focused universities. Also, the share of engineering graduates differs significantly by university mission groups. For instance, Seoul National University, a leading research university, granted 40.2% of its doctoral degrees in engineering field (1,159 students), but the proportion of engineering Ph.Ds. is much smaller in universities that belong to “other university” group (26.3%). On the other hand, the proportion of students who received doctoral degrees in humanities and social sciences is the largest in institutions categorized as “other university” group. Such differences may result from the


H. Lim and J. C. Shin

Table 11.3  Ph.D. degrees granted by institutional mission types Types of mission Research univ. (7) Research active univ. (14) Other univ. (26)

Humanities and social Medical Natural sciences Total Engineering science sciences 2,885 (100%) 1,159 (40.2%) 531 (18.4%) 531 (18.4%) 529 (18.34%)

Arts and physical science 135 (4.7%)

2,551 (100%) 753 (29.5%)

844 (33.1%) 377 (14.8%) 451 (17.7%)

126 (4.9%)

2,465 (100%) 647 (26.3%)

459 (18.6%) 380 (15.4%) 816 (33.1%)

163 (6.6%)

Source: KEDI Education Statistics Note: The mission type is based on Shin (2009)’s classification on 47 Korean universities. Since the number of Ph.D. grantees is calculated based on 47 universities only, it may be different from the total number of Ph.D. degree grantees that also include those from universities that are not included in the above mission type classification

fact that these less prestigious universities lack both the human resources and facilities needed to train students in S&E field. Moreover, they may be more dependent on the income generated from students who are enrolled in humanities and social science fields.

11.5.3  Key Characteristics of Recent Ph.D. Recipients The Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET) has been conducting a national survey of new domestic Ph.D. graduates in Korea since 2011. Of 13,037 Ph.D. recipients in 2015, 9,259 responded to the survey. The 2015 data show the proportion of male and female students to be 64% and 36%, respectively. The largest share of the total graduates were from engineering (29.2%), and fine arts and physical sciences had the least number (6%). Approximately 50.6% were between 30 and 40 years old, with 28.1% of graduates aged over 40. Key findings include the “aging” phenomenon of recent Ph.D. recipients. The average age when awarded a doctoral degree was 40.1 years old. The arts and humanities had the oldest average age for obtaining the degree (46 years old) and natural science the youngest (36.4 years old). This may be related to the increase in part-time students, especially in the arts and humanities. Recent Ph.D. recipients published an average of 2.33 articles in domestic peer-­ reviewed journals and 2.78 articles in international peer-reviewed journals. Education was the field with the highest publication rate in domestic journals (2.82 articles), and natural science recipients had the highest rate of publications in international peer-reviewed journals (4.54 articles). Such difference may be because most research-oriented universities in Korea require a certain number of publications in highly regarded international journals, especially in the field of natural science and engineering, as a prerequisite for graduation.

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 193

Fig. 11.3  Ph.D. students’ self-perceived competency Natural Sciences

The average time to gain the degree varied across disciplines. The overall average time was 5.1 years. Arts and humanities had the longest time to degree (6.4 years) and medicine the shortest (4.1 years).

11.6  Quality of Doctoral Education Programs 11.6.1  Competency Development of Doctoral Students The current job market for Ph.D. recipients is becoming more diversified and the availability of traditional academic positions in universities increasingly limited. Globally, doctoral education is criticized for not providing effective training to meet the demands of the job market, especially in relation to “transferable skills” required in all professional settings (e.g., problem solving, communication, teamwork, etc.). In this section, the survey data from students’ self-reported competency development at a leading research university in Korea is discussed. The sample was 515 students enrolled in four major disciplinary fields including humanities, social science, engineering, and natural science. The survey included questions related to students’ perception of their competency development during their doctoral training. Students were asked how their doctoral training had contributed to competency development in seven academic and general skill categories (namely, research methodology, critical thinking skills, understanding scholarly context such as norm and culture of enrolled disciplines, establishing a network, project management skills, teaching, and teamwork). Respondents rated their competency on a Likert scale, with 7 the highest. As Fig. 11.3 shows, doctoral students in the arts and humanities fields generally reported lower competence. However, there are a few categories where arts and humanities students reported higher scores. These are “critical thinking skills” and


H. Lim and J. C. Shin

Fig. 11.4  Doctoral student’s satisfaction Natural Sciences

“understanding scholarly context.” This may be because the main training method in humanities subjects includes writing tasks requiring critical thinking skills. On the other hand, humanities students reported a much lower score on “network,” “project management,” and “teamwork skills” compared to students in hard disciplines. This may reflect differences in learning and research styles in soft and hard disciplines. In the soft disciplines, students learn in a more independent environment and have less chance to collaborate with their advisor and colleagues. Finally, it is significant that students in all disciplines reported a low level of competence in “teaching,” which may be problematic over the long term once these students become faculty members.

11.6.2  Student Satisfaction on Doctoral Education In the same survey, students were asked to evaluate their satisfaction with their doctoral education  in three categories: peer interaction, curriculum, and institutional support. Student satisfaction was the highest for peer interaction. It was the lowest in relation to curriculum with a clear difference between soft and hard disciplines. Students in humanities and social sciences reported relatively higher satisfaction for curriculum, since their source of learning comes mostly from lectures and seminars. One of the reasons for this finding could be that faculty members in soft disciplines put more weight on teaching compared to engineering and natural sciences (Jung 2011) (Fig. 11.4).

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 195

11.7  Job Market 11.7.1  D  octoral Students’ Perception and Plans for Their Career With the increased supply of doctoral degrees in Korea, it has become increasingly competitive to secure employment for new graduates. Gaining a placement as a university faculty member is extremely difficult because more universities now hire contract-based academics in order to maximize managerial  efficiency. The future academic job market in Korea is viewed pessimistically because of the rapid decline in the student population and the constant reduction in college enrollment. These in turn will directly affect the faculty job market. According to recent report by KRIVET which is based on doctoral degree survey data from 2015, 76.6% of the respondents indicated that they had found employment immediately after graduation. However, only 60.2% of them had a full-time permanent job position which suggests that many positions were part time or temporary (e.g., lecturer), especially in the field of arts and humanities. Of those employed, 45.1% were receiving a salary over US$50,000, while 15.3% reported their salary was less than US$20,000 when they are employed at a part-time positions. The annual salary of US$20,000 is far less than the average income of a 4-year college graduate in Korea (Song et al. 2015). Such an unstable job market may influence doctoral students’ experiences in graduate school. This section briefly considers how Korean doctoral students perceive the job market and how their perceptions vary by discipline. A survey question asked students about their career after graduation in relation to three issues which are (1) the availability of a diverse career choice, (2) satisfaction with salary, and (3) confidence in finding a job. Students in engineering were the most optimistic (4.1 on a 7-point scale), whereas humanities students held the most pessimistic view (2.2). The biggest difference among the question items were in relation to the availability of diverse career choice and their satisfaction with expected salary. Like many other countries, the employment options for Ph.D. recipients in the arts and humanities field are limited. Compared with other disciplines, the number of government research institutes or placements for humanities graduates in private industry is relatively scarce. Most of the humanities degree holders are likely to acquire a job as a part-time lecturer in university or, in the worst case, postpone their graduation until a suitable job comes available. The availability of a diverse career choice influences the plans of doctoral students to be an academic as their ultimate career goal. Approximately 77% of arts and humanities students are hoping to become a faculty member. On the other hand, this proportion is significantly smaller for students in engineering and natural sciences (approximately 35% in both fields) since they have more career choices. The Korean government has been promoting various policies to promote a university-industry linkage, to widen the career options for students in the hard disciplines. A substantial number of doctoral students, especially in engineering in major research universities, are receiving financial support from major


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firms such as Samsung and POSCO, and their job placement after graduation is therefore secure.

11.7.2  D  octoral Students’ Plan to Pursue Postdoctoral Position After Graduation One of the notable recent trends in Ph.D. training is that more students opt to pursue postdoctoral studies after graduation, especially in STEM disciplines. The survey data show that 65.3% of all doctoral students plan to seek a postdoctoral position after finishing their degrees. Students in the natural sciences had the greatest inclination to seek a postdoctoral position (76.3%), and the lowest was in engineering (52.6%). Such differences even within the STEM disciplines show that engineering graduates have greater career options. Natural sciences students do not find a doctoral degree competitive enough, and so acquiring postdoctoral experience is mandatory to achieve their career goals. Among those who plan to pursue a postdoctoral position in natural sciences, approximately 82% hope to go abroad, mainly to the USA and Europe believing that foreign postdoctoral experience will enhance their research competence and foreign language proficiency. Additionally, many students indicate their desire to have a career in a foreign country by first obtaining an overseas postdoctoral position. These students expect that having postdoctoral experience abroad will complement their domestic degree and increase their competitiveness in the Korean job market once they return given the strong preference for domestic over foreign degree holders (Shin et al. 2014).

11.7.3  Longer Path Toward Academia The academic job market is not only becoming increasingly competitive, but also the average age to enter academia as a faculty member is rising. According to the data, the average age to be appointed assistant professor has been increasing since 2012. In 2010, the average age of a newly appointed faculty member across all disciplines was 39.4 years old, but by 2014 the figure had jumped up to 43.6 years old (Faculty News 2014). There are also disciplinary differences. The oldest average age to become a faculty member is in the arts and humanities field (46.9 years old) with the youngest being in medicine (39.4 years old). The phenomenon of the increasing age of junior faculty member can be explained with the following factors. First, the most obvious reason is that the supply of Ph.D. graduates outnumbers the demand in the academic job market, and to pursue postdoctoral experience is becoming institutionalized, which in turn influences junior academics’ delayed entry into the job market. It may also be a product of the universities’ recent trend to recruit more non-tenure track

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 197 Table 11.4  Average age to become a faculty member

Discipline Arts and humanities Social science Engineering Natural science Education Medicine

Average age (national average, 2014) 46.9 46.1 43.1 42.8 44.2 39.4

Source: Faculty News (Kyosu shinmum 2014) html?idxno=28786

faculty members. Most non-tenure track faculty worked as a full-time lecturer prior to their appointment. Universities may prefer to hire those who have more experience in teaching and research compared to the younger Ph.D. recipients who only recently obtained their degree (Faculty News 2014) (Table 11.4).

11.8  Challenges for Doctoral Education in Korea 11.8.1  Underestimated Domestic Doctoral Degree Holders One of the critical challenges facing doctoral education in Korea is linked to the ongoing issues regarding limited academic job options for domestic degree holders. Korean higher education has developed through close relationships with foreign higher education systems, especially the USA. Since the 1960s many Korean students have studied abroad, and the percentage of Korean professors who have earned their degree from foreign countries accounts for approximately 40%, according to CAP survey data (Shin 2015). Such percentage is significantly larger in prestigious universities. It was reported that more than 80% of the faculty members in arts and humanities in three major research universities (Seoul National, Yonsei, and Korea) are foreign degree holders (Daily University News 2010). For this reason, many students choose to study abroad to earn their doctoral degrees, especially in the USA. It is not surprising that Seoul National University was ranked second only to the University of California, Berkeley, in producing the most undergraduate students who later earned doctorates from American universities between 1999 and 2003 (Gravois 2005). Although the research performance and competence of Korean universities are rising in international ranking tables, the preference for foreign degree holders remains. Shin et al. (2014) questioned whether the research productivity of foreign degree holders is actually greater than that of domestic degree holders. According to the results of their study, the research productivity of foreign degree holders is not


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necessarily superior to that of domestic-trained faculty members despite the commonly held view that it is. Such dependence on foreign degree holders, especially in research-oriented universities, is creating academic dependency in Korean higher education system. One of the biggest problems in Korean academia is that almost all theoretical frameworks including research methodology and research norms are copied from foreign countries, which makes it difficult to develop local knowledge. In addition, the imported knowledge may not fit in the context of Korean society, which means that the social contribution of knowledge from Korean universities may be relatively weak, particularly in the humanities and social science fields (Shin 2015). In this sense, it will be critical to first form a strong basis for local knowledge in Korean academe which may make it more attractive for students to remain in domestic institutions for their doctoral training.

11.8.2  Limited Specialization for Doctoral Programs Another key challenge related to doctoral education in Korea is the limited range of courses offered in doctoral programs. Most Korean graduate schools, even Seoul National University, have their curriculum structure based on master degree programs which lack advanced courses specifically designed to meet the needs of doctoral students. It was found that one of the factors that influences master students to undertake doctoral study abroad is the lack of differentiation between the master degree and doctoral degree curriculum (Lim et al. 2016). One of the key characteristics of Korean academe is related to lack of “specialization” of faculty members’ research areas. Western university departments and faculty are usually much larger than in Korea, and this allows for faculty specialization in specific research topic areas. However, in Korea, individual faculty members usually cover more than one research area because of the small size of departments. For this reason, many students feel that it is difficult to find a faculty member who has advanced knowledge in their interested research areas, and so they choose to study abroad with an advisor or in a program that specifically matches their research interest.

11.8.3  U  nderdeveloped Academic Culture (Seniority-Based Culture) One of the characteristics of academic culture in Korean higher education is its “hierarchy” among faculty members and students. Korea has a long tradition of Confucian culture with its emphasis on seniority among individuals, and the role of teacher is very important. Kim (2007) points out that one of the key supporting forces behind creating a world-class university in Korea is the tradition of a strong

11  Doctoral Education in South Korea: On the Way Toward Becoming an Independent… 199

and committed relationship between mentor and students in graduate programs. However, the Confucian-based learning culture also has various problems, especially in places like graduate school where the influence of an advisor extends over the student’s total learning experience from admission to job placement. The human rights of graduate students has arisen as an important social issue in Korea where many graduate students experience difficulty especially with their advisor relationship. There is evidence that many students in graduate school experience verbal and physical abuse, exploitation by faculty, sexual harassment, authorship issues, etc. As a result, organizations like Graduate Student Councils are being established, especially in research-oriented universities in order to protect graduate students. Korean undergraduate education is being transformed with a consumer-based orientation because of universal access to higher education resulting in universities now competing with one another to attract students. Although student numbers are expanding in graduate programs, much of the graduate education culture still retains elements of a master-apprenticeship approach as well as the traditional Confucius culture. Such a rigid relationship between faculty members and students also affects students’ learning experience and outcomes. Korean students are known for their passive attitude to learning where they find it difficult to challenge the teachers’ authority or opinions. In doctoral training, this passive attitude can have an even more negative impact since it will interfere with their critical thinking which is necessary when becoming an independent researcher. In this sense, although Korean doctoral training resembles the US style in terms of external structure, the inner culture still reflects traditional values which shape the unique characteristics of Korean graduate school education (Shin 2012). Various institutional and individual efforts are essential to produce a more flexible and horizontal culture for doctoral training in Korea and so improve students’ experiences and learning outcomes.

11.8.4  Unemployment of Doctoral Degree Holders The number of doctoral degree holders has been increasing since the mid-1990s, and there are over 13,000 new Ph.Ds. entering job markets each year. As a result, there is an increased supply of doctoral degree holders which in turn leads to unemployment. As mentioned earlier, the unemployment rate for new Ph.D. degree holders was approximately 30% in 2015, and the figure is even higher for specific disciplinary fields such as arts and humanities. There are now over 1.13 million master and doctoral degree holders in the current labor market, resulting in an overeducated labor force (Kim and Ryoo 2014). The lack of available jobs for highly educated individuals results in many choosing to target a job lower than their qualification to secure employment. As a result there are more than 180,000 doctoral degree holders working in office jobs and approximately 20,000 working in the service industry in positions that do not require a Ph.D. qualification (Yonhap News 2015). With its Confucian tradition, Korean society has traditionally valued and


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respected those with high academic qualifications, and until the 1980s acquiring a doctoral degree was sufficient to secure employment in a university or government research institute. However, in current Korean society, the return on investment in graduate education has declined significantly, and many talented students choose to enroll to professional schools (e.g., medicine) instead of pursuing further scholarship in academia.

11.9  Conclusion Doctoral training in Korea was rapidly developed in enrollments, students’ competencies, and their research outputs. However, the Korean doctoral education system is suffering from three major problems. First, the Korean doctoral education “system” carries the legacy of two major systems—the German and the US systems. Formally, Korean doctoral education is similar to the US system with the adoption of a coursework-based doctoral curriculum since 1974. However, the real mechanism is similar to that of the old Japanese system, which emphasizes a close relationship between professor and doctoral student. Doctoral students are expected to satisfy both the requirements common to the US system (coursework, qualifying exam, prospectus, and dissertation defense) as well as the traditional German systems (apprenticeship with their professors). This duality places too heavy a load on doctoral students, and many of them choose an easy way out, namely, to study abroad under one or other system but not both. Second, the Korean doctoral education system shares the same problems as the advanced systems on the one hand and developing systems on the other hand. As in the advanced systems, the number of doctoral degree holders is greater than the optimal number, and their employment options are less than satisfactory. This is often observed in advanced doctoral systems. On the other hand, Korea suffers from an underdeveloped academic environment. Mutual trust and professional judgment are core in establishing a meritocracy for an advanced doctoral education system, but it is a challenge to a developing system. The doctoral education system in Korea is caught in the middle between an advanced system and a developing system although it is relatively well established compared to other developing systems. Third, Korean doctoral students are forced to acquire both global and local knowledge. On the one hand, a doctoral education  system should be drawing on globally cutting-edge knowledge so that students are exposed to the most up-to-date academic research. On the other hand, the knowledge that doctoral students learn should be relevant to local needs, so that they can apply it within their workplace. Unfortunately, the Korean doctoral students do not always study the cutting-edge knowledge nor locally embedded knowledge. Instead, what they learn tends to lag behind that of the advanced systems. In addition, the knowledge is not locally embedded. In this scenario, doctoral students are caught between the demands of global competitiveness and local demands.

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We therefore conclude that despite both government and universities’ efforts to build world-class doctoral education system, the Korean doctoral education system is still not well founded. The major hindrance factors are not all about limited funding, instead they are about culture and traditions in Korean academe that cannot be changed quickly but require enormous effort in the longer term. Our hope is that the younger generation of academics will be more flexible and open-minded and bring more of an international perspective than the previous generation.

References Ban, S. J., et al. (2003). A study on graduate education quality improvement in knowledge based society. Ministry of Education and Human resource (Policy report). (in Korean). Chung, S. (2002). Research on Kyungsung Imperial University. Seoul: Mooneumsa (in Korean). Daehakalimi. (2016). Higher education in Korea. Gravois, J. (2005). Number of doctorates edges up slightly. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 51(18), A34. Jung, J. S. (2011). Analysis of academic scholarship by career stage among Korean academics. Doctoral dissertation. Seoul National University. KEDI. (2015). Education statistics service. Kim, K. S. (2007). Great leap forward to excellence in research at Seoul National University. Asia Pacific Education Review, 8(1), 1–11. Kim, K. S. (2008). Korean higher education development. Seoul: Kyoyook book (in Korean). Kim, M. J. (2010a). The overseas training program for faculty member under U.S educational ad in the 1950s. Comparative Education, 20(2), 169–195 (in Korean). Kim, J. Y. (2010b). Daily embodiment of the global hegemony of American universities- Korean graduate students’ learning experiences in the US University. Economy and Society, 85, 237– 264 (in Korean). Kim, S.  K. (2016). Western faculty ‘flight risk’ at a Korean university and the complexities of internationalisation in Asian higher education. Comparative Education, 52(1), 78–90. Kim, A., & Ryoo, A.K. (2014). Estimating the occupational demand for university and college graduates. KRIVET report. (in Korean). Kim, S., Lee, P., & Chang, D. (2014). An analysis on the research outcomes of World Class University project comparing with BK21 project in Korea. The Journal of Economics and Finance of Education, 23(3), 61–88 (in Korean). Lee, S. (1989). The emergence of modern university in Korea. Higher Education, 18, 87–116. Lee, H. (1991). Development of contemporary Korean higher education system. Korean Higher Education, 50, 49–53 (in Korean). Lee, J., et al. (2013). A study on the condition of graduate education operation and improvement strategy. Korea Educational Development Institution (KEDI) Report (in Korean). Lim, H. J., Park, H., Kim, S., & Kim, K. (2016). A study on master students’ graduate school experience in Korean Research University. Asia Journal of Education, 17(3), 379–408 (in Korean). Ministry of Education. (2013). Announcement of Global Fellowship Program recipients. Press release. (in Korean). Ministry of Education. (2016). Ministry of education annual task plans. Press release. (in Korean). Shin, J. C. (2012). Higher education development in Korea: Western university ideas, Confucian tradition, and economic development. Higher Education, 64(1), 59–72. Shin, J. C. (2015). Higher education development in Korea: Accomplishments and challenges. In J. C. Shin, G. A. Postiglione, & F. Huang (Eds.), Mass higher education development in East Asia. Dordrecht: Springer.


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Shin, J. C., Jung, J., Postiglione, G. A., & Azman, N. A. (2014). Research productivity of returnees from study abroad in Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Minerva, 52, 467–487. Shin, J. C., Jung, J. S., & Lee, S. J. (2016). Academic inbreeding of Korean professors: Academic training, networks, and their performance. In J. F. Galaz-Fontes, A. Arimoto, U. Teichler, & J.  Brennan (Eds.), Biographies and careers throughout academic life (pp.  87–206). Cham: Springer. Shin, J. C., & Lee, S. J. (2015). Evolution of research universities as a national research system in Korea: Accomplishments and challenges. Higher Education, 70, 187–202. Song, C.Y., et al. (2015). Newly earned Ph.D. degree holder national survey. KRIVET report. (in Korean). Teichler, U., Arimoto, A., & Cummings, W. K. (2013). The changing academic profession: Major findings of a comparative survey. Dordrecht: Springer. Umakoshi, T. (1995). The establishment and development of modern university in Korea (trans: Yongjin Han (2001)). Seoul: Kyoyook book (in Korean).

Online Article Sources Daily University News. (2010, July 13). Almost impossible to become a faculty with domestic Ph.D. degree. Retrieved in 25th Jul 2016 (in Korean). Faculty News. (2014, April 21). Aging junior academics in arts and humanities discipline. Retrieved in 25th May, 2016 (in Korean). Yonhap News. (2015, September 3). Excessive 900,000 labor force with master and doctoral degree. HTML. Retrieved in 20th Jul 2016 (in Korean).

Chapter 12

Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education Futao Huang

12.1  Introduction In contrast to many Western countries like the USA and the UK, doctoral education in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) started as late as the early 1980s. In 1982 only 302 doctoral students were enrolled. Since then, impacted by global and international drivers and national contextual factors, there has been not only a quantitative growth in the number of doctoral students and doctoral degree holders but also a diversifying of the structure and functions of doctoral education in China. Although the former Soviet patterns of academic systems and higher education systems have maintained a strong influence on the formation of modern Chinese higher education (including graduate education), more distinctive characteristics of Chinese doctoral education have also emerged since the early 1990s when China began to build up its market economy with distinctive Chinese characteristics. Doubtless, Chinese doctoral education is confronted with numerous issues and challenges, but it appears that with an increase in the rate of higher education enrolment and continuous reforms in doctoral education, the scale of Chinese doctoral education will expand, and its missions, structure, and functions will be more diversified in the future. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of Chinese doctoral education, focusing on its recent changes, main characteristics, and major issues and challenges. The study will analyse national statistics and documentation, as well as cases of individual universities. The study begins with a brief introduction to the outline and key features of Chinese higher education and global drivers as well as national contextual factors. It then discusses recent changes and challenges which have taken place in Chinese doctoral education since the mid-1990s. The study F. Huang (*) Research Institute for Higher Education, Hiroshima University, Higashi Hiroshima, Japan e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



F. Huang

concludes by presenting the main characteristics and prospects of Chinese doctoral education and implications for study, policy, and institutional practice.

12.2  Previous Studies and Conceptual Framework In contrast to existing studies of policy, financing, governance arrangements, quality assurance, and internationalisation of Chinese higher education, there have been few English publications on the topic of Chinese doctoral education. Zhang, in one of these, describes the main features of Chinese doctoral education in the early 2000s. Zhang gives a brief introduction to funding issues, types of institutions where doctoral education is undertaken, forms of doctoral study, students and their programmes of study, and supervision (among other issues). Zhang argues that PhD education in China is relatively young but fast developing (Zhang 2007). Recently, several Chinese researchers published an article focusing on a comparative study of European and Chinese doctoral education in collaboration with international academics (Bao et al. 2016). By identifying the similarities and differences of doctoral education between Europe and China, their study claims that China has just started to diversify its doctoral education. In contrast to these previous studies, this study addresses the issue of how Chinese doctoral education has been transformed from being influenced by former Soviet ideas to the US model. This research is based on an analysis of the official statistics issued by the Chinese government, field work, and case studies. In common with many other countries, since the late 1990s, changes in Chinese doctoral education have been increasingly affected by both global and international drivers and domestic factors. This study employs the following conceptual framework as shown in Fig. 12.1. In order to pursue the research question mentioned earlier (has Chinese doctoral education been moving from the former Soviet patterns to the US model?), the present study employs two focus questions. 1 . What main changes have occurred in Chinese doctoral education? 2. What key challenges confront Chinese doctoral education? Global and international drivers

National contextual factors

Chinese doctoral education

From Soviet ideas to the US model Fig. 12.1  Conceptual framework. (Source: Author 2016)

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


In terms of methodology, the data in this study is mainly drawn from national statistics issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE) in China. All these statistics are gathered and annually published by the MoE and can provide reliable and hard evidence of changes in Chinese doctoral education. In addition, this study also presents three case studies focused on the process of doctoral education in practice. The analysis of the three cases is supported by major findings from interviews which were conducted by the author and his colleagues several years ago. Finally, relevant findings from field work and interviews by existing studies are provided, with the purpose of identifying the real challenges facing Chinese doctoral education in recent years.

12.3  Background and Driving Forces The current Chinese higher education institutions (hereafter HEIs) consist of four sectors. They include national universities which are founded, administered, and largely financed by the Ministry of Education (hereafter MoE) and other central ministries; public institutions which are established and funded by local authorities; the nongovernment or private university sector which is founded and operated by private corporate, private enterprises, social organisation, etc.; and independent colleges which used to be second-level colleges within national and public universities but are currently categorised as private sector. Because these independent universities can still use the titles of the universities to which they were once affiliated, they are considered to be different from other nongovernment sectors in this study. Since the mid-1990s, a lot of Sino-foreign-run higher education institutions and academic programmes have emerged. The vast majority of these institutions and programmes are either affiliated with existing universities or colleges or delivered by current higher education institutions. Recently, branch campuses of foreign universities in China have also appeared. By type of student, regular HEIs enrol full-time students, while adult education institutions are mainly concerned with mature students and students in service. By level of educational programme, there are junior colleges in which short-cycled programmes are provided for 2–3 years. The length of study at undergraduate education level lasts 4 years but normally takes 5 years in the fields of engineering and medical science. Graduate education is made up of master-level programmes and doctoral education. The length of study at master-level programmes varies largely depending on different institutions and disciplines, ranging from 1.5 to 3 years. The standard period of study at doctoral education level ranges from 3 to 5 years, but it can also be prolonged to as long as 8 years, especially for mature students or students in service who are pursuing doctoral degrees in professional disciplines. By type of academic programme, or discipline, there are comprehensive universities (offering a wide variety of disciplines); specialised or professional HEIs or universities (such as polytechnics); medical and agricultural, arts, pedagogical institutions; and colleges of higher vocational and technical education. By mission or function, there are research-intensive universities, teaching-­ centred HEIs, and HEIs emphasising both teaching and research activities.


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According to the statistics of the MoE, as of 2014 there are 2529 regular HEIs. Among these, 1202 institutions are qualified to provide undergraduate programmes with bachelor degrees, and 1327 institutions focus on the provision of vocational and technical education. Although the gross rate of Chinese higher education enrolment reached 37.5% of the relevant age cohort by 2015 and China has not become one of the ‘high participation systems’ of higher education (according to Martin Trow’s definition), the total number of students enrolled in various types of HEIs is 35,590,000. This means that China has the largest higher education population in the world (MoE 2015). With respect to the origins of Chinese higher education, the formation of the modern Chinese higher education system after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 was considerably influenced by the Soviet patterns. For example, the number of comprehensive universities declined from 47 to 14, while there was a rapid increase in the numbers of specialised HEIs in engineering and agriculture institutions: from 159 in 1951 to 174 in 1954 when the model of the former Soviet higher education system was introduced to China (MoE 1984). Although China tried to establish its own higher education systems in the 1960s by dropping the Soviet model, it seemed to have a continuing impact on China’s higher education prior to the 1980s (Huang 2006). By the early 1990s, the main characteristics of China’s higher education systems could be summarised as follows. Firstly, similarly to the former Soviet academic and higher education systems, there was a clear division of labour between the two separate parts of the sector in the Chinese academic systems: universities or HEIs and research institutes. As the primary mission of individual universities/HEIs was to produce professional and vocational graduates, except for very few universities that were administered by the MoE and other ministries and departments at a central government level, a vast majority of HEIs were specialised, and professional institutions focused on the delivery of practical and applied programmes of study. Research activities were basically undertaken in research institutes outside universities and especially in the Chinese Academy of Sciences or Social Sciences. Secondly, because there was no national academic degree system until the early 1980s, there was no provision of graduate education, including doctoral education and training, in either HEIs or research institutes. Only after the launch of the Regulation on the Academic Degree Systems of the People’s Republic of China in February 1980 did doctoral education and training in China come into existence in real earnest. Thirdly, as a socialist country, the MoE and other ministries and departments at both the central and local levels regulated and controlled all HEIs in relation to almost all administrative and academic matters. These ranged from setting standards for approving new institutions, recruiting new entrants, providing new academic programmes, and determining priorities of teaching and research activities to appointing key institutional leaders and allocating revenues. All HEIs were established and financed by either national government or local authorities. No private institutions were allowed nor were there any institutions or programmes collaboratively provided by China and foreign partners.

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


Global and international drivers and national contextual factors (RIHE 2010) have led to enormous changes in Chinese doctoral education and training. To illustrate, in relation to prominent global and international drivers also common to many other countries and societies, there has been a demand for building a knowledge-­ based society. Since the early 1990s, more and more countries have asked their universities and research institutes to play a central role in establishing a knowledge-­ based economy and society by fostering graduates with creativity and carrying out innovative research activities. The second driver pertains to the increasing impact of globalisation and internationalisation. Compared to the situation prior to the 1980s, doctoral education and training worldwide has tended to focus more on producing doctoral holders equipped with transferrable skills who are more responsive and relevant to changing labour markets at home and abroad. A related driver is that the rapid process of internationalisation has made doctoral education and training more competitive at a supranational level, and so more doctoral programmes with regional and international perspectives are developed. Third is the growing force of the market on higher education or the marketisation of higher education. Although not all societies have been influenced by the rule of the market, it is true that even doctoral education and training has been increasingly influenced by this trend. Evidence includes a growth in numbers of private doctoral students, an increased reliance on private resources to operate doctoral education programmes, a massive expansion in numbers of doctoral programmes and training activities which are market oriented, and requirements for doctoral education to be more accountable, transparent, efficient, and effective to various stakeholders, etc. (Nayyar 2008). In addition to these global and international drivers, national contextual factors have also stimulated changes in Chinese doctoral education and training. One of the most important factors has been the reforms made, at both national and institutional levels, to the old higher education systems modelled on the Soviet Union. From the perspective of doctoral education, these include three major aspects. The first has been to build up comprehensive universities, especially research-­ intensive universities, by merging specialised institutions into large research universities with full-scale and high-level disciplines. After 1992, as China made further efforts to transform a planned economy to a market one with Chinese characteristics, several important government documents and acts were issued, such as an Outline for Reform and Development of Education in China of 1993, the Education Act of 1995, and the Higher Education Act of 1998. They emphasised that totally new education systems should be established while the distinctive Chinese market economy was being formed. The second has involved the implementation of national policy and strategies of creating several world-class universities by strengthening research capacity and enhancing the international competitiveness of Chinese universities. The launch of the 211 Project and 985 Project has led to the emergence of more than 100 ­research-­intensive universities. These universities have played a decisive role in providing doctoral education and training in China.


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Third is the massification of Chinese higher education, especially since 1998. As mentioned earlier, gross higher education enrolment increased from 9.8% of the age group in 1998 to 37.5% of the relevant population in 2015. The steady and rapid expansion of undergraduate students has also resulted in a remarkable expansion in numbers of graduate students. To sum up, all these powerful driving forces have contributed to the quantitative growth and qualitative improvement of China’s doctoral education over the last two decades.

12.4  Changes and Challenges in Chinese Doctoral Education 12.4.1  Quantitative Growth and Diversification of Structure As noted above, when China established its doctoral education in 1982, there were only about 30 doctoral candidates. By 1988, the number of doctoral students or candidates had increased to 10,525 and graduates to 1538. With the rapid and steady rise in numbers of undergraduate students since 1998 (other than for 2003 and 2007), there has been a similar growth in numbers of doctoral students. Figure 12.2 shows that over the period 1995 to 2014, the number of new entrants and graduates at a doctoral level increased more than sixfold (from 11,056 in 1995 to 72,634 in 2014) and more than tenfold (from 4641 to 53,653), respectively. Unlike in many countries such as the USA, Germany, and Japan, in China, partly as an effect of the former Soviet styles, even in recent years, both universities/HEIs and research institutes are involved in providing doctoral education and training. For example, Fig. 12.2 indicates that although numbers of doctoral graduates from research institutes have declined since 2011, they are still concerned with doctoral

Fig. 12.2  Changes in numbers of new entrants and graduates 1995–2014 .(Source: MoE 2015)

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


Fig. 12.3  Changes in numbers of doctoral graduates by sector 1995–2014. (Source: MoE 1996, 2015)

education and training. However, Fig. 12.3 clearly shows the numbers of doctoral graduates from universities or HEIs have increased in a continuous and surprisingly rapid manner with a continual decrease in numbers of those from research institutes from 1995 to 2014. For example, as of 1995, the proportion of doctoral graduates from research institutes accounted for 16% of the total, but it had reduced to 7% by 2013. Like both undergraduate- and master-level students, the number of doctoral students enrolled in individual HEIs and research institutes is in accordance with the state planning system. Prior to the early 1990s, almost all doctoral candidates were full-time students and were funded by the government. Not only did they not pay any tuition or fees, they were also provided with student dormitories or housing facilities on campus. Students from low-income backgrounds received a stipend from the government to cover part of their living expenses. Since the late 1990s, with the adoption of a national cost recovery policy in higher education, other types of doctoral students have also been admitted to HEIs and research institutes. The previous study shows that as early as 1985, the Chinese government stated in its publication Decision to Reform Educational Structure that HEIs ‘could enroll a small number of students who pay tuition’. This was the first national policy introducing cost recovery to Chinese HEIs. From the mid-1980s to 1992, the two-track enrolment of paying tuition and not paying tuition coexisted in the Chinese higher education system. Since 1997, all Chinese HEIs have adopted the policy of charging tuition and fees from students, including those who study in both national and public HEIs (Li and Min 2001). In terms of funding source, there are three broad types of doctoral student in China. First, there are the traditional doctoral students who are financially supported by public funding. Most of them are full-time students. The second type are contract-­


F. Huang

Fig. 12.4  Changes in numbers of graduates by type of students 1995–2014. (Source: MoE 1996, 2015)

based students. Before they are admitted to a doctoral programme, they have to sign a contract with their workplace, or sponsoring HEI or institute, releasing them to commence their doctoral education. In most cases, they are funded by their current affiliation, sponsoring university, institution, or organisation for which they are contractually bound to work for an agreed period after graduation. Although some are full-time students and are required to be employed in their sponsoring universities, institutions, organisations, or places of work after completion of their study, a majority pursue their doctoral degrees in service. Self-financed or private doctoral students have to pay for tuition and fees and accommodation or other living expenses if they stay on campus. Some of them are full-time students but pursue their doctoral degree at their own expense because their entry-level exam mark is not high enough to qualify for financial support. Others are part-time students who undertake their doctoral education while working as young academics in HEIs at their own expense. In most cases, they are reimbursed in part by their affiliations after they earn their doctoral degree. As discussed earlier, the introduction of the rule of the market to higher education in China, especially since the mid-1990s, is one of the main reasons for the diversification of doctoral students. The marketisation of higher education and the necessity to generate more revenue through recruiting private students have not only resulted in a rapid increase in numbers of nongovernmental or private HEIs and independent colleges but have also brought about changes in doctoral education in China in relation to the type of students undertaking doctoral study. As Fig. 12.4 demonstrates, there were no private or self-financed doctoral students in China until 1995. The majority of doctoral graduates were recruited and financed based on the state planning system. In 2002, there were only six self-­ financed doctoral graduates, but by 2014 that number had increased to 2679. Over a 20-year period, the proportion of state-planned doctoral graduates dropped from

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


Fig. 12.5  Changes in numbers of graduates by discipline 1995–2013. (Source: MoE 1996, 2015)

91.8% of the total to 78.4%. By contrast, self-financed or private doctoral graduates increased by 5%, while the proportion of contact-based graduates expanded from 8.2% of the total to 16.6%. In other words, although state-planned graduates still accounted for the bulk of the total, its share had declined, corresponding with a growth in numbers of both contract-based and self-financed doctoral graduates. Despite a rapid growth since the late 1980s in nongovernment or private HEIs, including 4-year universities, nongovernment or private university, nor any independent college, is currently qualified to confer doctoral degrees. The main reason for this is that the outset private HEIs and independent colleges were expected to become teaching-centred institutions, to offer short-term applied vocational programmes, and to foster graduates who contribute to the economic development of the community. Although various reforms were carried out to restructure the Chinese higher education system – which had been based on the ideas of the former Soviet state since the early 1980s – when China adopted its open-door policy, the Soviet influence on key aspects of Chinese higher education was still considerable. For example, Fig. 12.5 shows that for the period 1995–2013, the largest number of doctoral graduates was from engineering, followed by science, and then medicine. This indicates that Chinese doctoral education still pays much attention to the provision of applied programmes. There are clear differences between universities and research institutes in terms of the doctoral programmes they offer despite major changes in the number of graduates from the different sectors by disciplines. Figure 12.6 shows that as of 1995, the largest number of university doctorates graduated in engineering (1630 ­graduates), followed by science (841). By contrast, in research institutes the majority were in science (466), followed by engineering (154). According to Fig. 12.7, by 2013 the largest number of doctoral holders still came from engineering (17,162


F. Huang

Fig. 12.6  Numbers of graduates by sector and discipline (1995). (Source: MoE 1996)

Fig. 12.7  Numbers of graduates by sector and discipline (2013). (Source: MoE 2014a, b)

graduates), followed by those from science (8855). This is despite the fact that there had been a surprising rise in the number of doctoral graduates in universities and a decline in numbers in research institutes. The same is true for research institutes. The majority graduated from science (1541), followed by engineering (1169). The reason for the increased numbers of doctoral graduates in universities and the decline in research institutes is the growth in universities with authority to award doctorates while the number of research institutes declined.

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


It is clear that by the early 2000s, an apparent division of labour between the two different sectors continued to exist. Universities provided a wider variety of doctoral programmes, especially in engineering, science, and medicine, whereas research institutes offered fewer programmes and concentrated on science and engineering. With the rapid expansion of research universities since the late 1990s, doctoral education and training in China has relied more on individual universities and less on research institutes, which suggests that the impact of the former Soviet academic system on China has declined (see Figs. 12.6 and 12.7). The forms and process of doctoral study differ from the UK and Australia but are similar to the USA. Chinese doctoral education and training is based on coursework and a structured curriculum, accompanied by a comprehensive examination and the submission of a doctoral dissertation. Despite significant differences in different HEIs and disciplines, the process of doctoral education and training consists of five stages. In the first stage, doctoral students spend 1  year completing all required courses and obtaining academic credits. In the second stage, students have to pass a comprehensive examination in their second academic year. The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to assess students’ overall competencies, including basic and professional knowledge, and research abilities in particular. Those who pass the examination move onto the third stage. In this stage they are supervised in their review of the literature, develop a research proposal, and make an oral defence of their research proposal or preliminary research findings. The fourth stage is mainly concerned with a mid-term assessment of students’ progress in their research and progress in publishing research articles in academic journals. In the final stage, students submit their dissertation, which is reviewed by an examination and defence committee consisting of students’ supervisors and external reviewers. They then undertake an oral defence of their dissertation. Table 12.1 contains case studies of three leading universities in China (Huang and Li 2010). Shanghai Jiao University was one of the first Chinese modern universities focusing on engineering education. It has become a comprehensive and research-intensive university since the 1990s. Modelled on the Soviet model of the early 1950s, Huazhong University of Science and Technology was established as a typical college of technology. It has also expanded since the early 1990s into a huge research-intensive university with a wide variety of disciplines. By contrast, Xiamen University used to be a private university founded by an overseas Chinese national in the early 1920s. It is famous for its humanities and social sciences, especially in economics, international trade, and financing, although it is also recognised for the quality of its research in chemistry. The different origins and contexts have resulted in several differences in terms of length of study, required numbers of academic credits, required number of published articles, etc. For example, the average length of study in Shanghai Jiao Tong is 1 year longer than in the other two universities. Its students also require more academic credits than the other two. Both Shanghai Jiao Tong and Huazhong University of Science and Technology instituted standards which require students to publish a minimum number of research articles in ­identified academic journals. Xiamen University has not laid out similar requirements for its students.


F. Huang

Table 12.1  Process of doctoral education Shanghai Jiaotong Uni.

Huazhong Uni. Of Science and Technology

Xiamen Uni.

Length of Study

3-5 years

3-5 years

3-7 years

Length of study on average

4 years

3 years

3 years

Coursework in the first academic year

17 academic credits

Coursework in the first academic year

Scores of completed courses

Process of doctoral education & training

12 academi credits for Science & Engineering, 14 academic Coursework in the first academic year credits for Humanities & Social Sciences

12-14 academic credits

Scores of completed courses Comprehensive exam from the second academic year

Comprehensive exam from Review of literature concerned the thrid term Assessment on doctoral candidates' research abilities

Comprehensive exam from the thrid Review of literature concerned term Assessment on doctoral candidates' research abilities

Submission of docotral dissertation proposal

After the third term

Submission of Exam on qulifications of doctoral dissertation submitting research proposal proposal

Submission of doctoral dissertation proposal

Mid-term check or exam of doctoral dissertation

Awards & scholarship for excellent doctoral candidates

Mid-term check or exam of doctoral dissertation

Social investigation

Publications of research papers

2 or more than 2 articles publishd in indexed journals like Science Publications of Citation Index (SCI), Engeering research papers Index (EI), Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index(CSSCI)

Preparatory oral defense of doctoral dissertation Open oral defense of doctoral dissertation

Preparatory oral defense of doctoral dissertation Open oral defense of doctoral dissertation

Basic theory & professional knowledge

After comprehensive exam

E.g. Engineering on average 1-2 articles in SCI journals, 3-5 Mid-term check or exam articles in EI journals; of doctoral disseration Chemistry, 3 articles in SCI journals Publications of research articles Preparatory oral defense of doctoral dissertation Open oral defense of doctoral dissertation

Source: Huang and Li (2010)

It is worth mentioning that it is considered a normal part of their doctoral education and training for students to be involved in research activities before completing and obtaining doctoral degrees. These three case studies reveal that 86.5% of doctoral students participated in their supervisors’ research projects in Shanghai Jiao Tong; as high as 93.7% of doctoral students in Huazhong University of Science and Technology were members of their advisors’ research projects; 56% of doctoral students in Xiamen undertook research projects supervised by their advisors, though this is much lower than the other two universities. One of the reasons for this is that Xiamen University has fewer professors who are qualified to recruit doctoral students and more disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Furthermore, in order to expand students’ scope of research, academic networking, and especially international perspectives, the three universities established policies to encourage and even provide financial support for their students to attend international conferences at home and abroad. It is reported that 86.5% of doctoral students in Shanghai Jiao Tong have attended various academic conferences, and 46% have participated in international conferences during their study. Nearly half the doctoral students from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participated in international conferences. As Xiamen University began to fund doctoral

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


Fig. 12.8  Changes in the destination of employment of doctoral graduates. (Source: China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center 2015)

students to attend international conferences, their numbers increased year by year from 2000 to 2005. With regard to changes in employment of all doctoral graduates, Fig. 12.8 suggests that the largest number of doctoral graduates was employed in HEIs during 2012–2014. Because their major destination of employment is an HEI and nearly 4000 graduates found their jobs in research institutes during the period, there is little doubt that Chinese doctoral education and training devoted much of its efforts to producing university faculty members and researchers. However, many were also employed in other enterprises, hospitals, and medical workplaces, though these numbers changed over time. At an institutional level, similar trends can be identified by discipline and location of different universities based on case studies. Table  12.2 illustrates that the percentage of doctoral graduates who were employed in HEIs accounts for the largest proportion of the totals across all universities. This is especially true of those universities located in the northwest and southwest parts of China. For example, over 70% of doctoral graduates from the two universities located in the southwest part of China were employed in HEIs. More than 60% of those from the northwest and central regions of China became university faculty members. Even in Beijing, where there appear to be more options for employment and more attractive alternatives for doctoral graduates, the percentage of graduates from the three most prestigious universities in Beijing who found jobs in HEIs comprised the largest share of the total. Not all doctoral graduates become academics, but some gain employment in a diversity of nonacademic workplaces. For example, according to the same annual report above, by 2014 the largest proportion of doctoral graduates from both

Central China South-­west China South-­west China North-­west China North-­west China

Location Beijing Beijing Beijing











HEIs 39.69 30.4 41.92

Source: China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center 2014

Lanzhou Univ.

Xi’an Jiao Tong Univ.

University Perking Univ. Tsinghua Univ. China Univ. of Political Science and Law Wuhan Univ. of Technology Zhongnan Univ. Economics and Law Zhongnan Univ.

Party and government institutions 6.72 10 26.35






Research institutes 15.94 25.7 5.39

Table 12.2  Destination of employment of doctoral graduates at an institutional level






Other public institutions 10.63 3.9 2.99





Medical workplaces – – –






Enterprises and company 25 29.2 17.96






Army 1.72 0.8 0.6

216 F. Huang

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


Fig. 12.9  Numbers and percentages of graduates by sector in 2013. (Source: MoE 2014a, b)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University located in Shanghai were employed in hospitals and medical institutes. Their percentages rose to 40.9% and 39.8%, respectively, while the percentages of those working in HEIs after graduation only accounted for 19.6% and 25.3% of the total graduates in the two universities, respectively. Noticeably, the number of doctoral graduates looking for work has grown steadily. As the number of doctoral graduates continues to increase, more and more doctoral graduates will find it difficult, or that it will take longer, to gain employment. As already mentioned, not all HEIs are permitted to provide doctoral-level degree programmes and training. Figure 12.9 shows that over 80% of doctoral graduates come from universities and research institutes administered by the MoE and other central ministries and agencies. Approximately 100 of these universities are called ‘leading’ or ‘key’ universities in China. They enjoy relatively higher academic freedom and autonomy as well as more favourable working conditions, are allocated more public funding, offer more doctoral programmes, and have more opportunities to undertake international academic exchange activities when compared with other HEIs. By contrast, the HEIs run by either local enterprises or nongovernment sectors are not qualified to provide any doctoral education programmes. As a result, these programmes are generally offered by key universities and national research institutes that are either administered or funded by the MoE, and other central ministries or departments, or by the China Academy of Science or Social Science.


F. Huang

Fig. 12.10  Changes in international students at doctoral level. (Source: MoE 2015)

12.4.2  Challenges for Chinese Doctoral Education Several challenges confront doctoral education and training in China. Firstly, from the perspective of internationalisation, although there has been a growth in numbers of inbound international students studying doctoral programmes in Chinese universities, when compared with many advanced countries such as the USA, the UK, Australia, and Japan, inbound international doctoral students constitute a tiny proportion of the overall doctoral student population. For example, according to Fig. 12.10, their numbers increased from 2304 in 2005 to 12,114 in 2014 and from 1% to only 4% within the same period. Secondly, academic corruption in Chinese higher education can also be identified at doctoral level. Earlier study indicates that corruption of doctoral education in China is especially evident in two aspects (Yang 2015). One is that many universities spend a lot of money on ‘public relations’ or use their networking to influence reviewers who evaluate their application to provide doctoral programmes. Being allowed to grant doctoral degrees not only increases the university’s revenues through recruiting self-financed doctoral students but also makes it much easier for their academics to be promoted to professor or senior researcher. The following interview with a professor from Zhejiang University shows the negative impact from not using social networking or offering a bribe to key officials (Shen 2004, 2007): All of our professors were asked to use their ‘public relations’ and even to bribe any authority who might exert primary influence on whether our application for providing doctoral degree programmes could be approved or not. It is ridiculous that the amount of money sent by the discipline of history in one famous normal university in Shanghai to those key persons evaluating which discipline could be qualified to award doctoral degree has kept getting larger and larger every year. We do not send money to anyone concerned, so up to now, we cannot issue any doctoral degrees yet.

The other factor is the existence of a privileged class, which includes government leaders and businessmen, who seek doctoral degrees through either a contract or self-financed basis. There is ample evidence to show that they cannot give the necessary time or effort needed for doctoral study nor fulfil the minimum requirements


12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education Doctoral holders 4%


Doctoral holders 16%


Full-time faculty members 96%

Full-time faculty members 84%

Fig. 12.11  Changes in doctoral degree holders 1998–2013. (Source: MoE 1999, 2014)

for graduation from a doctoral programme. This has contributed to an erosion in values and to the corruption of doctoral education. Thirdly, with the dramatic increase in doctoral students, there has been a corresponding increase in the numbers of doctoral graduates seeking employment. The national data issued by China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (2014) suggest that despite a very high rate of employment in absolute terms, the percentage of job seekers increased from 12.6% in 2012 to 14.4% in 2013 and was as high as 20.2% in 2014. Even in top universities like Peking University and Tsinghua University, as of 2014, the rate of unemployed doctoral graduates was 3.2% and 2.4%, respectively. In a local university like Hunan University in Southwest China, the percentage of doctoral students who were not employed in 2014 reached 19.8%. Fourthly, some disciplines were unable to meet the minimum standards required in providing doctoral degree programmes. As a result, four universities were failed by the MoE in 2016 and are now no longer qualified to award doctoral degrees. Five universities have been asked to stop recruiting doctoral students for 2 years and to make improvements to their doctoral education in line with requirements set out by the MoE (Research Group of Year Report of China Degree and Graduate Education Development & Data Center of National Degree and Graduate Education 2014). Fifthly, although the percentage of full-time faculty members with doctoral degrees, especially in leading research-intensive universities, has increased, the percentage is still small compared with the USA and Japan. As indicated in Fig. 12.11, even though the percentage rose from 4% in 1998 to 16% in 2013, a huge majority of Chinese faculty members do not hold a doctoral degree. This will impact the quality of doctoral education even though there are much higher percentages of faculty members with doctoral degrees in leading universities in China. Finally, with the increased influence of economic globalisation and the growing international competition in higher education, the Chinese government has implemented several national projects in the early 1990s to attract international faculty members to Chinese campuses, particularly to leading or research-intensive universities. Attracting globally famous international full-time academics enhances the status of their own academics, forms international academic networks, exposes graduate students and young academics to international perspectives, improves the


F. Huang

Fig. 12.12  Changes in international faculty members or experts in Chinese HEIs. (Source: MoE: Yearbook of China’s Education 2003–2014 with author’s modifications)

university’s global reputation, and raises its standing in the global university ranking systems. As shown in Fig. 12.12, there has been a steady increase in international faculty working in Chinese HEIs, but the percentage of those international faculty members or experts with doctoral degrees is still low. At an institutional level, the percentage varies greatly, but even in leading universities, it has not surpassed 5% of the total.

12.5  Concluding Remarks This study suggests that although there is still evidence of the impact of Soviet ideas on the existing system of doctoral education, there is little doubt that China’s doctoral education and training has become affected over time by the US model. This is especially true in relation to the role of coursework and quality assurance frameworks in doctoral education and training. Secondly, until recently, as a result of the Soviet legacy, both HEIs and research institutes are involved in the provision of doctoral education, though there has been a drop in numbers of doctoral graduates from research institutes. Thirdly, the priority of engineering, sciences, and medicine, as well as rigid hierarchical structures of academic institutions, has remained intact. However, with the implementation of market reforms, there has been a growth in the number of different types of doctoral candidates, and social sciences such as management, law, and economics have begun to occupy a larger share of the doctoral education sector in China. Finally, various challenges confront Chinese doctoral education. Some are the result of the rapid growth of doctoral education; some stem from an increased marketisation or deregulation of government control of doctoral education; others

12  Changes and Challenges to Chinese Doctoral Education


appear to be caused by the lack of quality assurance mechanisms and the lower quality of full-time faculty members. Another issue might be that the level of Chinese doctoral education needs to attract more talented international faculty members to its doctoral programmes. Major implications for research, policy, and institutional practice include the following points: • It is necessary to define doctoral education and training in a changing higher education landscape at both global and domestic levels. Much more efforts are required for China to establish quality assurance frameworks for its doctoral education at institutional and national levels based on its own national context and international trends in this regard. • China needs to enhance the attractiveness of Chinese doctoral education internationally. • It is expected that China should shift its doctoral education from a research-­ based model to a model more relevant and responsive to a changing labour market and increased global competitiveness without losing its core value of pursuing original research.

References Bao, Y., Kehm, B., Kehm, M., & Ma, Y. (2016). From product to process. The reform of doctoral education in Europe and China. Studies in Higher Education. 79.2016.1182481. China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center. (2014). Year report of graduates of higher education institutions (2014). Retrieved at tbch/2014jqggxbysjyzlndbg/. 27 Mar 2016 (in Chinese). China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center. (2015). Year report of graduates of higher education institutions 2015. Retrieved at tbch/2015jgxbysjyzlndbg/ (4 April 2016). (in Chinese) Huang, F. (2006). Undergraduate curriculum reforms in China. In A cross-national analysis of undergraduate curriculum models: Focusing on research-intensive universities, COE Publication Series 21, Research Institute for Higher Education (pp.  13–26). Hiroshima: Hiroshima University. Huang, F., & Li, M. (2010). The emergence and evolution of Chinese doctoral education. In RIHE (Research Institute for Higher Education) (Ed.), The future of graduate education, Series No. II of Strategic Research (pp. 65–86). Hiroshima: Hiroshima University in Japanese. Li, W., & Min, W. (2001). Tuition, private demand and higher education in China. Retrieved at 3 Sept 2016. MoE. (1984). China’s educational achievements. People’s Education Press. (in Chinese) MoE. (1996, 1999, 2013). Yearbook of Chinese education. People’s Education Press. (in Chinese). MoE. (1999). Yearbook of Chinese education. People’s Education Press. (in Chinese) MoE. (2014a). Educational statistics 2014. Retrieved at moe_560/jytjsj_2014/. 24 Mar 2016. (in Chinese). MoE. (2014b). Statistics of incoming international students in 2014. Retrieved at 4 Apr 2016. (in Chinese).


F. Huang

MoE. (2015). Educational statistics 2015. Retrieved at moe_633/201607/t20160706_270976.html. 3 Jul 2016. (in Chinese). Nayyar, D. (2008). Globalization: What does it mean for higher education? In L. E. Weber & J. J. Duderstadt (Eds.), The globalization of higher education (pp. 3–14). France: Economia. Research Group of Year Report of China Degree and Graduate Education Development & Data Center of National Degree and Graduate Education. (2014). Year report of Chinese degree and graduate education development. Peking: Renmin University of China Press in Chinese. RIHE (Research Institute for Higher Education). (2010). Producing qualified graduates and assuring education quality in the knowledge-based society: Roles and issues of graduate education. Report of the International Workshop on Graduate Education. Hiroshima: Hiroshima University. Shen, W. (2004, 2007). Based on major findings from the interviews undertaken by Wenqin Shen with his Chinese universities. Yang, R. (2015). Corruption in China’s higher education system: A malignant tumor. Retrieved at 17 June 2016. Zhang, L. (2007). Doctoral education in China. In S. Powell & H. Green (Eds.), The doctorate worldwide (pp.  155–167). Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press. England: Berkshire.

Chapter 13

Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply Robin Jung-Cheng Chen

13.1  Introduction The increasing democratization and human rights and the advent of development planning have shifted the essence of education, and higher education institutions (HEIs) have rapidly expanded globally (Marginson 2016; Mok and Neubauer 2016; Schofer and Meyer 2005). The higher education system in Taiwan also has undergone massive expansion during the past three decades (Chang et al. 2015). According to statistics from the Taiwanese government, 784 programs have been established during the last decade, including 379 undergraduate programs, 302 masters programs, and 103 PhD programs (Ministry of Education 2015). In addition, the explosive growth in student numbers also signals the rapid growth of graduate education. Doctoral students have increased 20 times and master students 18 times during the last decade in Taiwan. The rapid growth of HEIs can be attributed to changes in the social structure, moving from an industrial to a postindustrial society, which in turn leads to the further division of labor. The resultant changes in Taiwan’s human resource structure have greatly influenced the supply and demand of human capital. On the other hand, the rapid expansion of higher education can be related to the educational reforms in Taiwan’s post-authoritarian era, especially since the 1990s (Ministry of Education 2013a). In terms of both the rapidly growing number of universities and the size of the student population, Taiwan’s higher educational policy has shifted from focusing on mainstream elite education to striving for universal education, according to Trow’s (1974) classification of the higher education system.

R. J.-C. Chen (*) College of Education, National Chengchi University, Taipei City, Taiwan e-mail: [email protected] © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



R. J.-C. Chen

Table 13.1  The number of doctoral students and graduates from 1994 to 2013

Year 1994 1998 2002 2006 2010 2013

Doctoral students Education All fields Number 8395 286 10,845 571 18,705 1148 29,839 1913 34,178 2540 31,475 2634

Ratio 3.40 5.26 6.14 6.41 7.43 8.37

Total 848 1282 1501 2614 3705 4241

PhDs Education Number 34 70 93 176 223 328

Ratio 4.01 5.46 6.20 6.73 6.02 7.73

Sources: Chang and Shaw (2016b)

Chang and Shaw (2016a) indicated that beginning in 1995, HEIs have launched extensive teacher training programs, which has skyrocketed the demand for ­qualified faculty with PhDs in education. The reason behind this rapid demand is that primary and high school teachers previously were trained at only 11 HEIs prior to 1994. The “Teacher Education Act” and the implementation of the “Policy of Polybasic Teacher Cultivation” ended the restraint on the openness of teacher training programs. Enrollments began to mushroom, which forced the HEIs to seek more professors to teach the rapidly growing number of students, motivating them to establish doctoral programs in the field of education in order to increase the enrollments of doctoral students and satisfy the demand (Chang and Shaw 2016a). As shown in Table 13.1, the number of doctoral students and PhD holders in the field of education increased almost ten times between 1994 and 2013. However, the low birth rate has led to a sharp decrease in the demand for school teachers in Taiwan in recent years, resulting in 44 teacher training programs being withdrawn from HEIs within 5  years (Ministry of Education 2013b). The withdrawal has upended the balance of supply and demand, resulting in faculty members becoming unemployed or having to move to other fields. Moreover, high numbers of PhD graduates and the downsizing of academic positions have caused an imbalance between the supply and demand of PhD holders in the labor market. For example, in a study conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology (2016a, b), the unemployment rate among PhD holders was at 3.1%, having reached its peak over a period of decades. The situation became serious when the government responded to global competitiveness. The increasing desire to compete globally led policymakers to adopt a performance-based approach to gauge the output of HEIs (Deem et al. 2008; Mok 2000; Mok and Chan 2008). The battle for excellence has also transformed HEIs in Taiwan, boosting publication productivity, which in turn has had a negative impact on doctoral education. The pressure to publish causes professor to pay less attention to the quality of doctoral education. This has negatively impacted the employability of doctoral students’ and their opportunities for an academic career. Although doctoral student enrollment has been declining and the strategies employed by the government to reduce the unemployment rate of graduates appear

13  Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply


promising, attention should be paid to the importance of maintaining quality human resources in the era of the knowledge-based economy. Numerous schemes and ­policies have been proposed to address this issue, including the promotion of international mobility for doctoral students, international employment, and enhancing the competitiveness of domestic PhDs, but there is also considerable agreement that the quality of doctoral education needs to be improved. The intent of this chapter is to take a retrospective view by examining issues associated with doctoral education in Taiwan. A number of topics are addressed including the doctoral preparation, the orientation of higher education policies, and the imbalance between the demand and supply of doctorates in Taiwan. Also, the historical context and development of doctoral programs are discussed to illuminate the background to the rapid growth and the current challenges facing doctoral students.

13.2  The Historical Development of Doctoral Education The development of Taiwan’s doctoral programs is closely related to the historical context of higher education in the country. Pan (2015) mentions that in 1918, when Taiwan was governed by Japan, the first HEIs were established for the purpose of providing the Japanese in Taiwan with a better medical education. Later on, the Japanese government opened several universities and colleges, one of which is now known as “National Taiwan University”. Although a graduate school was established in 1946, there were only three programs at that time. By 1960 the number had increased to 33. As for doctoral programs, the government issued a regulation governing the conferral of doctoral degrees giving the MOE the exclusive right to award a doctorate in six fields, including humanities, law, science, engineering, agriculture, and medicine. According to the regulation, all PhD candidates had to spend at least 3  years in graduate school. Consequently, PhD holders did not obtain their degree from the university they enrolled in but from the government. The government’s role in awarding doctoral degrees ceased in 1983 after the regulation was amended to delegate the right of conferral to the universities. The educational reform of 1994 is an important watershed in the history of Taiwanese doctoral programs. Since 1986, high schools, colleges, and universities have been established to provide accessibility to higher education. These reforms led to a huge growth in enrollment in HEIs, and, at the same time, doctoral enrollments started to surge as the demand for faculty increased with the establishments of more HEIs. As shown in Table 13.2, the number of enrolled doctoral students increased from 1994, peaking in 2013.

226 Table 13.2  The number of doctoral students and graduates from 1991 to 2015

R. J.-C. Chen

Year 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

The number of doctoral students 5481 6560 7713 8395 8897 9365 10,013 10,845 12,253 13,822 15,962 18,705 21,658 24,409 27,531 29,839 31,707 32,891 33,751 34,178 33,686 32,731 31,475 30,549 29,333

The number of doctoral graduates 518 608 708 808 848 1053 1187 1282 1307 1455 1463 1501 1759 1964 2165 2614 2850 3140 3589 3705 3846 3861 4241 4048 4000

Source: Ministry of Education (2015)

13.2.1  Establishing Period Since 1961, the need for hi-tech human resources in order to boost economic growth has encouraged private schooling, especially short-term junior college education. In 1963, normal schools were upgraded to normal specialized postsecondary colleges. As a result, a large number of technical colleges were established. From 1962 to 1966, 30 new colleges were built, including two agricultural colleges, six teachers colleges, eight technological colleges, five business colleges, one industry and commerce college, three medical colleges, two management colleges, one nursing college, one housekeeping college, and one language college. From 1967 to 1971, the number increased by 15 technological colleges, one marine college, two nursing colleges, two business colleges, one normal college, and one enterprise college. After 1972, many of these colleges became universities (Chen 2015). It is generally believed that the expansion of higher education occurred in response to major reforms that took place in 1986 and 1997. As Mok (2000) pointed,

13  Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply


following the lifting of martial law and the eagerness to copy international universities, the government empowered universities to run autonomously in 1996. They allowed the establishment of privately owned universities and approved the restructuring of junior colleges to full colleges. As a result, the number of universities and colleges skyrocketed. In 1997, in order to increase accessibility to higher education, the government expanded universities of science and technology and the technical colleges (Chen 2015; Huang 2011; Shen 1998). The decentralization of authority over higher education and the concern for national economic development stimulated to provide more accessibility for high school graduates to higher education. However, there was still a lack of diversity in the fields of study since technological skills were regarded as the most influential catalyst for national development. From 1962 to 1971, 23 technology colleges were established out of 52 in total.

13.2.2  Expansion Period The expansion of the number of doctoral students can be ascribed to the “Teacher Education Act” and the “Policy of Polybasic Teacher Cultivation” in 1994 which authorized all the HEIs to provide teacher education programs (Law 1995; Ministry of Education 2013b). HEIs were in turn motivated to provide teacher training programs across HEIs, and doctoral programs in the field of education expanded in order to meet the need for faculty positions. Chang and Shaw (2016a) point out that the number of doctoral students studying education in 2013 numbered 2634. This was approximately a tenfold increase compared to 1994 where the respective number was 286. The expansion of higher education can be attributed to the theory that the knowledge economy spurred national governments to invest in the expansion of doctoral studies, hoping that the flow of academic knowledge would become a key element of national economic policy (Auriol et al. 2012; Borrell-Damian 2009; Cuthbert and Molla 2015; Servage 2009). Lin’s study (2004) shows that higher education has positive effects on economic development. Also, Nerad (2011) has argued that the quality of doctoral students has become a vital element in university research because they are involved in producing new knowledge, and, more importantly, doctoral education produces future researchers. With the knowledge economy discourses, substantial funds were allocated to develop masters and doctoral programs. As statistics demonstrate, the doctoral student enrollment has rapidly increased in Asia, Europe, and the USA during the past two decades (Cyranoski et al. 2011). Mok (2000) found that the rapid social and economic changes pushed the government to reduce its control over higher education. Being very aware of the competitiveness in regional and global markets, the government began to capitalize on the investment in the expansion of higher education, allowing an immense number of HEIs to flourish. During the expansion phase, a critical policy change led to an increase in the number of universities. Increasing enrollments and increasing numbers of HEIs led to concerns that there would be a shortage of faculty, and an exten-


R. J.-C. Chen

sive range of doctoral programs were launched to fill the void. A shift from an industrial period to the emergence of a knowledge economy and global competition led the government to support an increase in the number of doctoral candidates to meet new human resource needs.

13.2.3  Challenging Period The increased number of PhD holders did not drive an equivalent demand in labor market. The widespread growth in the number of HEIs, and in PhD programs in particular, raised questions about the value of educational qualifications in Taiwan (Chen and Chin 2016; Wang 2003). Holding a PhD degree is now not enough to secure “full-time” academic positions in Taiwan. Postdoctoral training is required for doctoral degree holders in natural sciences and engineering, and growing numbers of doctoral students in social sciences are seeking postdoctoral training. In addition, scholars have also raised important questions related to whether the current curriculum provides them with the skills they need to meet for both the academic and the nonacademic labor markets. We can find these discussions in Western doctoral education and even in US doctoral education. Morrison et al. (2011) surveyed recent doctoral graduates in different disciplines and found that better career training is needed, particularly in terms of transferable skills. In addition, De Grande et al. (2014) found that doctoral education does not provide enough training for their doctoral students’ nonacademic careers. Taiwanese doctoral education has similar and more even serious problems than US doctoral education. The Ministry of Education (2015) considers the underdeveloped curriculum is the major cause of declining doctoral enrollment. For example, there was no doctoral student in 36 doctoral programs among 19 HEIs in 2014 (Ministry of Education 2015). The government has predicted that the number of doctoral students will decrease from 7670 in 2003 to 4800 by 2023, which is a decline of 37% (Ministry of Education 2013a).

13.3  C  hallenges for Doctoral Education: Imbalance in Supply and Demand Even if the enrollment in doctoral programs is declining, 30,000 doctoral students are enrolling in Taiwanese universities which annually produce 4000 doctoral degrees (Ministry of Education 2016). This number clearly indicates major oversupply. The labor marked for doctoral graduates has also been impacted by Taiwan’s sluggish economy. Some PhD graduates have been forced to work in low-wage jobs. A study by the National Profiles of Human Resources in Science and Technology (NPHRST) (2015) revealed that of 4403 doctoral graduates working in

13  Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply


Table 13.3  The number of doctoral holders and the percentage of different disciplines Years Number of doctoral holders Fields Humanities Social Science and technology

1999 1307

2002 1501

2005 2165

2008 3140

2011 3846

11.78 12.1 76.14

14.39 12.93 72.69

14.08 16.07 69.84

13.73 17.57 68.68

14.41 13.26 72.33


full-time positions, 3403 (77.2%) were employed in academia, 701 (15.9%) in a research institute, 283 (6.4%) in industry, and 140 (3.1%) in hospitals. The findings of this study suggest that the unemployment rate for doctoral graduates remains relatively low at 4%. However, the response rate for this study was low, only accounting for 11.5% of respondents, namely, 4590 respondents of 40,547 invited doctoral graduates. Data provided by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting, and Statistics (2016) suggest that the unemployment rate among doctoral graduates has remained above 5%. A study by the Price Research Indications Database (PRIDE) (2014) estimated that 15% of doctoral degree holders are not working in full-time positions. As already noted, the low birth rate in Taiwan is an important factor related to the decline in university enrollment, so that the number of faculty job positions has also been declining. According to Chen, the number of children born in 2001 was 260,354, dropping to 166,886 in 2010, suggesting that Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. In addition, the size of the overall population will begin to decline in 2022. These demographic changes led the Taiwanese government to reduce admission quotas for doctoral programs. For example, admission to doctoral programs has been reduced by 30% since 2015 according to the “Young Scholars Developing Plan” (Ministry of Science and Technology 2015). As well as the demographic changes, there are three major causes of oversupply of doctorates. First, following the education reforms in the 1990s, the number of HEIs and doctoral programs increased rapidly leading to the oversupply of PhD graduates far beyond the demand of academia and industry. Second, doctoral education does not meet market demands, so that doctoral degree holders are underprepared for their jobs in industries. For example, Ho (2017) argues that doctoral programs are not aligned with market demands (e.g., skills, technology, experiences, etc.), so that industry does not aggressively seek to hire doctoral degree holders. Third, there is a mismatch between the skills associated with doctoral education and the practical competencies required by the market. As noted in Table 13.3, approximately 72% of PhD recipients select science and technology as their research field. This means that the majority are in technology fields that have been identified for more than two decades by the Taiwanese government as areas of strategic importance. However, Chou (2013) found that industries are concerned with the lack of collaboration between universities and industry. In addition, the strong emphasis on publications keeps doctoral students isolated from the realities of the job market.


R. J.-C. Chen

13.4  P  olicy Initiatives for Competitive Doctoral Education and Its Challenges The Taiwanese government proposed two approaches to address the mismatches discussed in the section above. The first approach is to improve the skills and technology required for the academic profession, so that next-generation scholars will be more competitive in the academic job market, especially in international job market. This approach stresses the need to develop doctoral students’ research capabilities and further mobility of international talents. The second approach is to improve doctoral students’ responsiveness to industrial markets, so that they are hired by industry and are better able to contribute to economic development. The second approach emphasizes the academia-industry relationship and boosts transferrable and generic skills as proposed in Cuthbert and Molla (2015). Finally, this section proposes curriculum reform as the major challenge facing competitive doctoral education in Taiwan.

13.4.1  Academic Capacity Building-Oriented Projects In a bid to enhance the level of cooperation with international scholars, the Ministry of Education launched the “International Talent Cultivation Plan” to increase interaction between domestic and international HEIs. The MOE initiated this plan in 2015, and 17 universities, whose departments lie within six fields (arts and humanities, social science, mathematics and natural sciences, biology, medicine and agriculture, and engineering and applied science), are eligible for funding. The plan sponsors domestic doctoral students to study abroad for 2 years in order to strengthen their research capabilities as well as increase opportunities for international mobility and cooperation with Taiwan HEIs. Under this project, the MOE grants the candidates US$ 1200 per month for domestic research in 3 years and offers US$ 50,000 per year for overseas study in 2 years (see Fig. 13.1). About 100 candidates from both Taiwan and international doctoral students will participate in this exchange project, and the government plans to increase the candidates to 5800 in total. In addition, in 2003 the MOST initiated the “Swift Horse Program” to subsidize doctoral students conducting cross-border research (Ministry of Science and Technology 2016a, b). Given that the enrollment of doctoral programs had been declining, this policy was launched to provide funds as an incentive for both doctoral students and graduates to study abroad or search for postdoctoral positions overseas. The incentive has encouraged international mobility of domestic talent with the number of approved applications increasing from 86 in 2003 to 196 in 2016. Aside from these two major initiatives, Taiwan has sponsored overseas study. From 2005 to 2014, a total of 1223 students were funded: more than 574 students (46.9%) selected the field of social sciences (including business, law, pharmacy and public health, and social welfare), 371 (30.3%) selected the humanities (including humanities and arts, education, and others), and 278 (22.7%) selected technology

13  Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply

1st year

2nd year

3rd year

4th year


5th year

Domestic research

Overseas Study


1,200 USD/per month

50,000 USD/per year

1,200 USD /per month

Fig. 13.1  “International Talent Cultivating Plan”. (Source:

(including science, engineering, and agriculture) (Minister of Education 2015). The scholarship, worth US$ 42,000 per year for up to 4 years, is provided to support students studying in either doctoral or masters programs, although the program has lately supported only doctoral students.

13.4.2  Academic-Industrial Partnership Project The Taiwanese government has been strengthening the linkages between industry and universities. In 2013, Taiwan announced a subsidy project designed to encourage such cooperation. This project allows doctoral students to spend 2 years in academia and 2  years in industry and then complete their dissertation in the fifth year. The project is designed to provide doctoral students with opportunities to work in their field and expand their possible career pathways into industrial sectors. The plan has already led several universities to establish new programs to increase industry-academia collaboration. Currently, 18 programs in 15 universities receive support under the initiative. The project includes programs in humanities, business management, electronic engineering and computer science, science and engineering, and biomedical sciences. Courses are designed specifically to meet the needs of industry. In addition, the MOST has also initiated industry-university cooperative research projects including a pilot research project, developmental research project, and applied research project. While the initiative focuses on doctoral programs, these projects provide funds specifically for professors to cooperate with corporations. The evaluation of these projects focuses on industry research outcomes. The pilot research projects and developmental research projects, for example, provide funding for 2 years and 3 years, respectively, in order to provide time for innovation and development. However, traditional applied research project funding support is only 1 year. These industry-university projects have a short history and it is too early to assess their success. As well as the government initiatives, there are some funding opportunities from private enterprise. For example, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) has established a seamless relationship with the Advantech company which provides sub-


R. J.-C. Chen

stantial streams of external funding for doctoral students with US$16,000 per year for 4  years. Similar to the project initiated by MOE, the doctoral students take courses in the university for the first 2 years and then transfer to the company as an intern to take part in the research and development for the next 2 years. Given that Internet of things (IoT) industry has possessed tangible benefits to economic growth in Taiwan, the purpose of the partnership is to provide elite and advanced human resources to nurture and support the needs of industry. The university-industry interface is seen as a vital source of innovation where both benefit from new knowledge and where doctoral programs can be strengthened by new skills development and workplace experience as discussed in Jones and Grimshaw (2012). These partnerships can transcend the existing doctoral curriculum structure and provide a mechanism for increasing doctoral employment.

13.4.3  R  emaining Core Challenge for Doctoral Education: Curriculum Reform Curriculum reform is a core part for competitive doctoral education because skills and knowledge that are developed through coursework are critical for the job market. As Bai (2006) and Cranmer (2006) stressed, a curriculum must be designed with employability skills and diversity in a way that can function as the fulfillment of current and future needs and skills to center on economic and social issues. Kendall (2002) also proposed that interdisciplinary study and globalization must be considered in the doctoral training. Similarly, the combination of essential knowledge acquired from traditional coursework and interdisciplinary research training should be considered in curriculum reform. However, there are no existing criteria or clear-cut guidelines on how to reform the doctoral curriculum. The concern has not been discussed very much in Taiwan. Although Taiwan has undertaken numerous approaches to reshape doctoral programs, curriculum reform is still unable to meet market demands. The Ministry of Education (2017) launched the “Higher Education Enhancement Project” to encourage HEIs to compete for the funds through the restructuring of research and the curriculum. According to the project, doctoral program courses are expected to be more research performance oriented and to fulfill a social responsibility. For e­xample, National Chengchi University (NCCU) adopted curriculum reform along the same lines as the Higher Education Enhancement Project in 2017. The reform targets all the doctoral programs to be categorized into two domains: academic excellence and industrial relevance. In addition, the NCCU also encourages the existing doctoral programs to cooperate across disciplines and encourages mergers with other programs. Doctoral programs are encouraged to be internationally collaborative with universities in other countries to attract international talent, especially from Southeast Asian countries. These reform initiatives require curriculum reforms and also English medium instruction. However, these reform initiatives might not produce the expected outputs because of the conservative academic community.

13  Doctoral Education in Taiwan: Balancing Market Demands and Supply


Finally, curriculum reform could include promoting teaching skills for doctoral students who are seeking a career in higher education. As Jepsen et al. (2012) have discussed, doctoral education emphasizes research skills and tends to put less weight on teaching skills. However, these are critical for survival in academia especially in teaching-focused universities. Unfortunately, it is a rare university that promotes teaching skills to their doctoral students. Although it is not easy to incorporate teaching skills as a curriculum component, university and academic advisors can provide experiences for doctoral students to improve in this area. Some universities encourage doctoral students to lead a course as an instructor or teaching assistant, but the strong emphasis on research demotivates doctoral students from teaching. The development of teaching skills should not be underestimated in doctoral training.

13.5  Conclusion Various issues concerning doctoral education in Taiwan have been discussed. A brief historical review has been provided, showing how the growth in higher education institutions and system enrollment, triggered in part by reforms in teacher education, has led to pressures to increase enrollment in doctoral education in order to meet the needs of the expanding higher education system. However, it soon became clear that the number of doctoral graduates was too high compared with labor market needs, and there have been concerns about unemployment, as well as whether the current programs are preparing students for careers in industry. The Taiwanese government has taken steps to address these concerns. In parallel to Western countries, several approaches have been adopted. The “International Talent Cultivation Plan” was launched in order to provide domestic doctoral students with opportunities to study at foreign research institutions, hoping to facilitate increasing international cooperation and innovation through these new interactions. Other programs have encouraged doctoral program linkages with industry in order to enhance workplace experience and increase employment opportunities with industry. Some universities have developed new relationships with industry to cultivate doctoral students’ practice-oriented knowledge and skills as a mechanism for knowledge transfer to industry. These initiatives emphasize the mutual benefits obtained through greater interaction. Although these approaches seem promising, there continue to be concerns with the current state of doctoral education. There are those who believe that doctoral education is currently failing to address the needs of either the academic or nonacademic labor markets. There are concerns that doctoral education should be more interdisciplinary and not narrowly specialized. Doctoral programs provide little opportunities for candidates to improve their teaching skills, and yet teaching quality has become an important issue in evaluating new faculty. Given these concerns, there is little doubt that doctoral education will continue be the subject of considerable discussion within the higher education system.


R. J.-C. Chen

References Auriol, L., Schaaper, M., & Felix, B. (2012). Mapping careers and mobility of doctorate holders: Draft guidelines, model questionnaire and indicators–third edition (no. 2012/7). Paris: OECD. Bai, L. (2006). Graduate unemployment: Dilemmas and challenges in China’s move to mass higher education. The China Quarterly, 185, 128–144. Borrell-Damian, L. (2009). Collaborative doctoral education: University-industry partnerships for enhancing knowledge exchange. Brussels: European University Association. Chang, C. W., & Shaw, W. C. (2016a). Expanding higher education in Taiwan: The case of doctoral education. Higher Education Studies, 6(1), 1–14. Chang, C. W., & Shaw, W. C. (2016b). Expanding higher education in Taiwan: The case of doctoral education. Higher Education Studies, 6(1), 9. Chang, D. F., Nyeu, F. Y., & Chang, H. C. (2015). Balancing quality and quantity to build research universities in Taiwan. Higher Education, 70(2), 251–263. Chen, J.  J. (2015). Institutional impacts and density dependence in Taiwan’s higher education development. Taiwan Journal of Sociology of Education, 58, 1–45 (in Chinese). Chen, R. J., & Chin, J. M. (2016). Beyond neoliberalism: Higher education diploma inflation in Taiwan. KEDI Journal of Education Policy, 13(1), 113–132. Chou, H. Y. (2013). The unemployment and underemployment of the highly educated in Taiwan (Unpublished master’s thesis). Taiwan: National Cheng-chi University. Cranmer, S. (2006). Enhancing graduate employability: Best intentions and mixed outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 169–184. Cuthbert, D., & Molla, T. (2015). PhD crisis discourse: A critical approach to the framing of the problem and some Australian ‘solutions’. Higher Education, 69(1), 33–53. Cyranoski, D., Gilbert, N., Ledford, H., Nayar, A., & Yahia, M. (2011). Education: The PhD factory. Nature, 472(7343), 276–279. De Grande, H., De Boyser, K., Vandevelde, K., & Van Rossem, R. (2014). From academia to industry: Are doctorate holders ready? Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 5(3), 538–561. Deem, R., Mok, K.  H., & Lucas, L. (2008). Transforming higher education in whose image? Exploring the concept of the ‘world-class’ university in Europe and Asia. Higher Education Policy, 21(1), 83–97. Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics. (2016). Unemployment rates by educational attainment. Retrieved by asp?table=59 (in Chinese). Ho, S.  H. (2017). The impact of Taiwanese college students’ learning motivation from self-­ determination perspective on learning outcomes: Moderating roles of multi-traits. Educational Science: Theory & Practice, 17(3), 1015–1034. Huang, I. C. (2011). Educational tracking, stratification of labor market, and social status. Taipei: Psychological Publishing in Chinese. Jepsen, D. M., Varhegyi, M. M., & Edwards, D. (2012). Academics’ attitudes towards PhD students’ teaching: Preparing research higher degree students for an academic career. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 34(6), 629–645. Jones, B., & Grimshaw, D. (2012). The effects of policies for training and skills on improving innovation capabilities in firms. Compendium of evidence on the effectiveness of innovation policy intervention. NESTA. Manchester, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, p. 38. Kendall, G. (2002). The crisis in doctoral education: A sociological diagnosis. Higher Education Research and Development, 21(2), 131–141. Law, W. W. (1995). The role of the state in higher education reform: Mainland China and Taiwan. Comparative Education Review, 39(3), 322–355. Lin, T. C. (2004). The role of higher education in economic development: An empirical study of Taiwan case. Journal of Asian Economics, 15(2), 355–371.

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Marginson, S. (2016). The worldwide trend to high participation higher education: Dynamics of social stratification in inclusive systems. Higher Education, 72(4), 413–434. Minister of Education. (2015). The statistical analysis of recipients sponsored by overseas study scholarship program. Retrieved from aspx?n=07878DE436B77D08 (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. (2013a). Talent cultivation white paper. Retrieved from tw/001/Upload/3/RelFile/6315/6919/%E6%95%99%E8%82%B2%E9%83%A8%E4%BA% BA%E6%89%8D%E5%9F%B9%E8%82%B2%E7%99%BD%E7%9A%AE%E6%9B%B8. pdf (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. (2013b). Innovative pedagogy and individualized guidance. Retrieved from (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. (2015). General survey of higher education institutions. Retrieved from F78B10654B1FDBB5&s=4396A90696381274 (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. (2016). International talent cultivation plan. Retrieved from http:// (in Chinese). Ministry of Education. (2017). Higher education enhancement project. Retrieved from https:// pdf (in Chinese). Ministry of Science and Technology. (2015). Plan for encouraging junior faculty. Retrieved from (in Chinese). Ministry of Science and Technology. (2016a). Government subsidiaries for overseas studies. Retrieved from (in Chinese). Ministry of Science and Technology. (2016b). The introduction of Swift Horse Program. Retrieved from Mok, K. H. (2000). Reflecting globalization effects on local policy: Higher education reform in Taiwan. Journal of Education Policy, 15(6), 637–660. Mok, K. H., & Chan, Y. (2008). International benchmarking with the best universities: Policy and practice in mainland China and Taiwan. Higher Education Policy, 21(4), 469–486. Mok, K. H., & Neubauer, D. (2016). Higher education governance in crisis: A critical reflection on the massification of higher education, graduate employment and social mobility. Journal of Education and Work, 29(1), 1–12. Morrison, E., Rudd, E., & Nerad, M. (2011). Early careers of recent US social science PhDs. Learning and Teaching, 4(2), 6–29. National Profiles of Human Resources in Science and Technology (NPHRST). (2015). 2015 Annual employment perception survey report of earned doctorates in NPHRST. Retrieved from (in Chinese). Nerad, M. (2011). What we know about the dramatic increase in PhD degrees and the reform of doctoral education worldwide: Implications for South Africa. Perspectives in Education, 29(3), 1–12. Pan, F. D. (2015). A preliminary study of Dr. Kao-Wen Mao’s higher educational policy transformation after the termination of martial law in Taiwan (1987–1993). Unpublished master’s thesis. Taiwan: National Dong Hua University. Price Research Indications Database (PRIDE). (2014). Unemployment rates by educational rates above undergraduate degree. Retrieved from (in Chinese). Schofer, E., & Meyer, J. W. (2005). The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century. American Sociological Review, 70(6), 898–920. Servage, L. (2009). Alternative and professional doctoral programs: What is driving the demand? Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 765–779.


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Shen, S. S. (1998). Book review on pedagogy of history. Curriculum and Instruction, 1(4), 127– 132 (in Chinese). Trow, M. (1974). Problems in the transition from elite to mass higher education. Retrieved from Wang, R. J. (2003). From elitism to mass higher education in Taiwan: The problems faced. Higher Education, 46(3), 261–287.

Chapter 14

Conclusion: Doctoral Education and Training – A Global Convergence? Barbara M. Kehm, Jung Cheol Shin, and Glen A. Jones

14.1  Introduction In this concluding chapter, we analyse differences and trends towards convergence in doctoral education and training in 12 countries. These have been grouped into four Asian, four continental European and four Anglo-American countries to be able to illuminate differences and similarities among world regions. The chapter is divided into three major sections. In the first section, we discuss a variety of issues pertaining to the changing nature of doctoral education and training which are notable in most of the countries selected for this comparison. In the second section, we analyse the institutional and organizational changes that are deemed necessary to accompany and support the new role doctoral education and training has in existing and emerging knowledge societies. In the last section, we attempt to address the question of whether we are facing a global trend towards convergence of doctoral education or whether persisting differences outweigh such a trend.

B. M. Kehm (*) School of Education, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK e-mail: [email protected] J. C. Shin Department of Education, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea G. A. Jones Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada © Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018 J. C. Shin et al. (eds.), Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society, Knowledge Studies in Higher Education 5,



B. M. Kehm et al.

14.2  T  he Changing Nature of Doctoral Education and Training In defining the changing nature of doctoral education and training, we have identified six issues that are notable in the 12 countries involved. The list is by no means exhaustive, but the issues stand out in terms of intended policy changes and the importance of educating and training highly qualified persons for the global knowledge economy. These are demographic changes in terms of the number and composition of doctoral degree recipients, the widespread intention to considerably reduce the time needed for degree completion, concerns about the quality of supervision, the explicit requirement to prepare doctoral candidates for labour markets outside academia by providing them with transferable skills, the increasing importance of international experiences as part of doctoral training and, finally, concerns about the structure of the postdoctoral period or the transition of doctoral degree holders onto the nonacademic labour market.

14.2.1  Demographic Changes of Doctoral Degree Recipients There are three factors that stand out with regard to demographic changes in doctoral degree recipients. First, there has been an overall increase in doctoral graduates over the last 15 years; in fact the number of graduates has more than doubled in some countries (e.g. in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Korea). Second, in all countries included in this comparison, there has been a clear increase in the number and proportion of women being awarded a doctoral degree. This increase is particularly pronounced in Switzerland (from 31% in 2000 to 45% in 2015) and in South Korea (from 20% in 2000 to 35% in 2015). Table 14.1 reflects these changes. Table 14.1  Increase in overall numbers of doctoral degree recipients and proportion of women (2000 and 2015)

Germany Sweden Switzerland Portugal USA UK Australia Canada Japan S. Korea China Taiwan

2000 Total 25,780 3049 2733 1586 44,808 11,566 3802 3978 12,192 6143

Female 8852 1117 857 780 19,780 4432 1566 1551 2365 1257



Female (%) 34 37 31 49 44 38 41 39 19 20 27%

2015 Total 29,218 3345 3854 2351 67,449 25,020 8400 7059 16,039 12,931 54,891 3263

Female 13,052 1542 1727 1259 33,593 12,507 4205 3186 4948 4533 21,145 1148

Female (%) 45 46 45 54 50 50 50 45 31 35 39 28

Data sources: OECD statistics ( Taiwan data are from Taiwan Ministry of Education

14  Conclusion: Doctoral Education and Training – A Global Convergence?


The third factor is the increase in doctoral degree recipients from science (including medical and health sciences) and engineering fields in most of the countries included in this study, although this trend is less pronounced and has been going down in Switzerland and Portugal. Still, in three of the four continental European countries included in this study (Germany, Sweden, Switzerland), the proportion of doctoral degree recipients from science and engineering fields ranges from more than two-thirds to more than four-fifths. In the Anglo-American countries, the proportion ranges from slightly over 50% to almost two-thirds, while for the Asian countries, the picture is not quite so clear with 79% in Japan and 62% in South Korea. Table 14.2 shows the share of doctoral degree recipients from science and engineering fields in our case study countries for the years 2000 and 2014. Taken together, all three factors indicate a trend towards societies with very highly qualified human resources, including a higher proportion of graduates with research training deemed necessary for the knowledge society and economy. Despite the fact that there is a public discussion about the shrinking value of higher-level degrees in the labour market in some countries, notably Anglo-American ones, unemployment among doctoral degree holders continues to be lower than for higher education graduates with Master- or Bachelor-level degrees. However, with the increase in numbers of doctoral degree recipients, it can be expected that the job search in some subjects takes longer than before and that income differences become lower (Gokhberg et al. 2016). Although it looks as if in some countries the increase in the number doctoral degree recipients is flattening or stabilizing, this is not only due to labour market issues. It is necessary to point out that there are a number of other factors impacting on the magnitude of the increase in doctoral degree recipients. These seem to be more pronounced in the Anglo-American countries. In some systems doctoral education is heavily supported by the government, and therefore enrolment can shift with levels of government support. Doctoral degree enrolment is also heavily affected in some countries by the level of research funding, because doctoral stuTable 14.2  Share of doctoral degree recipients from science and engineering (2000 and 2014)

Germany Sweden Switzerland Portugal USA UK Australia Canada Japan S. Korea Taiwan

2000 Total 25,780 3049 2733 1586 44,808 11,566 3802 3978 12,192 6143 3848

S&E (%) 71 81 71 64 50 65 56 58 77 67 62

2014 Total 29,218 3345 3854 2351 67,449 25,020 8400 7059 16,039 12,931 4000

S&E (%) 74 82 69 54 51 65 60 65 79 62 53

Data sources: OECD statistics ( Taiwan data are from Taiwan Ministry of Education


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dents are engaged in such research and frequently funded under these arrangements. Shifts in research funding or new priorities of research funding can thus have an impact on the number of doctoral students as well.

14.2.2  Duration of Doctoral Training and Time-to-Degree In most countries included in this study, policy initiatives have been adopted to reduce the time-to-degree. In particular, the European Bologna Process – a ministerial initiative to reform and streamline higher education and create a European Higher Education Area – supports the view that doctoral education and training is a third cycle of studies (after Bachelor- and Master-level studies) which should take no longer than 3 years. However, despite the fact that this reform process has indeed achieved some reduction in the time-to-degree, most continental European countries share the view that eligibility for doctoral studies requires a Master degree first, and doctoral education and training is not a cycle of studies but a period of research training. Currently, a duration of about 4 years for a doctoral degree is widespread in continental Europe. People in the process of working towards their doctoral degree are not considered to be students but rather as doctoral candidates or early career researchers. This is different in some Anglo-American countries where in some universities and fields, students can enter into a doctoral degree programme or embark on a PhD after finishing their Bachelor degree. The required coursework, usually for 2 or 3 years, integrates the phase of Master-level studies and the first phase of doctoral studies. Once the coursework has been finished, supervised research for the doctoral thesis begins. Most Asian countries have adopted this Anglo-American model of doctoral education and training in which those embarking on the degree are seen as students. This difference in models – the ‘apprentice’ model in Europe and Australia and the ‘programme’ model (or ‘coursework’ model) in the Anglo-American and most Asian countries – of doctoral education and training impacts on the duration of the doctoral process and time-to-degree. It also affects institutional responsibility. While in Europe completion time is largely determined by the research work of the student and the quality of supervision and mentorship, Anglo-American (and Asian) higher education institutions have a broader responsibility for programme length and other requirements for the award of the degree beyond the thesis. One of the tensions embedded in discussions about time-to-degree is that there is a notion of inefficiency attached to longer times to completion. However, in most countries following the ‘programme’ model, graduates are aware that they must accomplish far more than a completed thesis (e.g. publications, teaching experience) in order to achieve competitiveness for academic positions in top research universities. Thus, there are pressures to do more and take more time to develop the necessary profile of research and teaching. In Europe, the Bologna Process, intended to push its signatory countries towards the Anglo-American ‘programme’ model with integrated coursework, shared supervision and integration of a given cohort of doctoral candidates into doctoral schools,

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programmes or graduate colleges. While Sweden and Switzerland have been pushing towards an adoption of the programme model, Germany has developed what can be called a hybrid model which includes elements of the ‘apprentice’ model and the ‘programme’ model. There has been a proliferation of doctoral programmes, schools and graduate colleges offering courses. However, these courses are mostly focused on transferable skills and participation is voluntary. These programmes, schools and graduate colleges also offer shared supervision; however the majority of doctoral candidates are employed part-time as research and teaching assistants and supervised by the professor for whom they are working. This professor will also be the first examiner of the thesis and the chair of the defence committee. This has caused concerns about the quality of supervision and the level of doctoral candidates’ dependence on their first supervisor.

14.2.3  Supervision and Quality Control Based on doubts about the quality of supervision and concerns about time-to-degree coupled with the push towards the programme model of doctoral education and training, many European countries have reformed their traditional doctoral education towards a more structured and systematic programme approach. Such an approach was deemed to solve several quality-related problems at the same time. First, the programme approach typically includes shared supervision, i.e. each doctoral student or candidate has at least a first and a second supervisor. Adding a second supervisor was supposed to reduce the dependency on the first supervisor for whom the doctoral candidate is working and generally to improve supervision. Second, a programme would also enable doctoral candidates to support each other because of closer contacts and help them build networks. By providing a more structured and systematic research training plus shared supervision, a doctoral programme was also expected to reduce the time-to-degree. Third, the integration of doctoral education and training into programmes would enable institutions to offer courses focused on transferable skills and, thus, improve the preparation of doctoral candidates or students for nonacademic labour markets. Finally, a doctoral programme or graduate school would enable a more systematic and criteria-based recruitment of potential candidates, i.e. be more selective and aimed at attracting only the best talent. In some countries, here notably Australia, further measures have been taken to improve supervision. It is no longer possible – as it still tends to be the case in most continental European countries – that each professor can accept any and as many doctoral students or candidates as she or he likes. Instead, appropriately qualified academic staff have to undergo a formal qualification process before being allowed to act as supervisor. Overall quality control of doctoral education and training is mostly left to the universities’ internal quality management processes. There are two countries in our sample, though, that stand out from the general summary of supervision and quality control issues provided above. The first is South Korea where the quality debate is related to the lack of transferable skills provision associated with a limited range of


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course offerings. Regular doctoral student satisfaction surveys have brought this issue to light. The lack of high-quality coursework seems to be a problem in Taiwan as well. The second country is China where quality standards are centrally determined by the government, and universities not conforming to these standards are not allowed to offer doctoral training at all. In summary, we can observe that the Anglo-American ‘programme’ model is increasingly regarded as the main model, although with clear differences in the European forms of adoption. Despite some exceptions to create a fast track towards a doctoral degree for particularly talented Bachelor graduates, there is no intention in continental Europe and Australia to integrate Master-level and doctoral-level coursework and decide about the final degree (i.e. Master or doctoral thesis) after completion of the coursework. Typically a Master degree with a good grade determines eligibility for doctoral studies. What seems to be appealing about the ‘programme’ model is that it provides structure to the phase of getting a doctoral degree and offers a more targeted and systematic research training. Thus the ‘programme’ model has shifted the emphasis to the process of doctoral education and training, while the ‘apprentice model’ was and still is characterized by its emphasis on the product, i.e. the quality of the doctoral dissertation.

14.2.4  Acquisition of Transferable Skills The acquisition of transferable skills during doctoral training is nowadays deemed to be of high importance because only a fraction of doctoral degree recipients will eventually stay in academia by managing to get a permanent or tenured position. Thus, preparation for nonacademic labour markets is regarded as an essential part of the training process. The requirements and needs for trained researchers in various sectors of the nonacademic labour market have also added relevance to the model of professional doctoral degrees (see Sect. 3.3). In short, doctoral education and training is no longer exclusively focused on producing ‘stewards of the discipline’ (Golde and Walker 2005) but on a broader range of employment options in order to enhance the employability of doctoral degree recipients and increase the relevance of dissertations and research work for businesses and industry. Individual country chapters from all three world regions included in this analysis explicitly refer to transferable (or generic) skills development as part of doctoral education and training, either as a policy issue (Australia and Taiwan) or as having been actively implemented into doctoral training (Switzerland, Sweden, UK, Canada and South Korea). In Australia it seems that transferable skills development is not yet strongly embedded into doctoral training, but the authors of the Australian chapter emphasize that it is a policy issue of increasing importance to which universities will have to respond, probably in the near future. There is a similar situation in Taiwan, where transferable skills training is seen as a problem because it is not well embedded into the curriculum of doctoral education and training. However, here too there seems to be increasing policy awareness of this important issue. In Switzerland, Sweden, the UK and South Korea, transferable skills have increasingly

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become part of doctoral education and training. In Switzerland and Sweden, transferable skills training is included in the coursework that doctoral candidates have to undertake and is explicitly regarded as preparation for the nonacademic job market. In the UK there have been publicly funded programmes to support career development and transferable skills training of doctoral students, and 2  weeks of skills training per year during the process of working towards the degree have become widespread. Most Canadian universities offer courses to support the preparation of their doctoral students for nonacademic labour markets, however, without these courses being a formal requirement to obtain the degree. In South Korea, finally, transferable skills training tends to be a regular component of doctoral training, but there are differences between the soft (humanities and social sciences) and hard (STEM subjects and medical sciences) disciplines in terms of which subset of transferable skills is better developed. For example, in the soft disciplines, critical thinking skills are better developed than in the hard disciplines, while in the hard disciplines, project management skills are better developed than in the soft disciplines. This difference seems almost natural given the differences between soft and hard disciplines in terms of their way of thinking and producing new knowledge, but enhancing employability of doctoral degree recipients for nonacademic labour markets tends to imply that all doctoral degree recipients should have acquired some competences in a broad set of transferable skills. Overall it can be said that transferable skills training during the doctoral phase is not yet implemented in all countries but that there is an increasing policy awareness about the importance and necessity to do so.

14.2.5  International Mobility International mobility of graduate students is nowadays regarded as important because it contributes to the quality of doctoral training, widens the horizons of graduates and supports the development of international academic networks. In those countries that charge tuition fees, international students, especially undergraduate students, contribute to the income of the institutions. They are normally charged a considerably higher fee than domestic students. International doctoral students may also be charged a high fee, but at many leading research universities in the USA and Canada, doctoral fees are waived, and top students often receive guaranteed fellowship or employment income to cover living costs. It is interesting to note that those countries charging high tuition fees especially from international students, notably the UK, the USA and Australia, not only attract high numbers of international students but also tend to have low numbers of domestic students going abroad. This is also the case for doctoral students. In contrast, continental European countries, here notably Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, send a higher proportion of their doctoral students abroad. Switzerland stands out in terms of particularly high numbers of international students studying for their doctoral degrees (more than 50%). In Portugal, international mobility of domestic doctoral students is encouraged but is lower than in other European countries. These


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differences are certainly also connected to language issues, and it is no wonder that English-speaking countries attract a higher number of international students than non-English-speaking countries. Another factor underscoring these differences is that countries with low or no tuition fees tend to regard international mobility of both the incoming and the outgoing form as contributing to the quality of doctoral education and training, while countries with high tuition fees tend to regard international mobility as ‘big business’ and thus focus more on attracting international students than sending domestic students abroad. Patterns of international mobility look somewhat different in the Asian countries. In Taiwan international mobility of doctoral students is promoted and financially supported by the government. In South Korea internationalization is brought about by inviting foreign academic staff and sending domestic doctoral students abroad through a global fellowship programme. This has led to a high number of South Korean doctoral degree recipients having been awarded their degree abroad, in particular in the USA. China notes a growth in the number of international doctoral students (from 1% in 2005 to 4% in 2014), but these represent only a very small fraction of the overall doctoral student population. Concerning international mobility of doctoral students, we can see different patterns in our three world regions. Continental European countries not only strive to attract international students but are also keen to send their domestic doctoral students abroad. Anglo-American countries tend to attract high numbers of international doctoral students; however they send very few of their domestic students abroad. In the Asian countries, we see somewhat different patterns. They are keen to attract international students but their proportion is rather low. Instead there are government initiatives in place to send domestic students abroad, often for a whole doctoral programme and not just for a limited period of time during the research work. The USA is a top destination for these doctoral students, and it is not surprising that reforms of doctoral education in Asian countries tend to be modelled on Anglo-American structures and processes. Some of the country reports included in this study also mention a certain level of cross-sector mobility of doctoral degree holders, i.e. from university to industry and from industry to university. It is high in Germany and Portugal and somewhat lower in Sweden. Table 14.3 below shows the proportion of international doctoral degree recipients among all doctoral degree recipients according to disciplinary groupings in 2014. The disciplinary groups with a particularly high proportion of doctoral degrees awarded to nondomestic candidates are highlighted in bold. It is noteworthy that Portugal, Japan and South Korea have a considerably lower share of international doctoral degree recipients in the sciences. Switzerland, the UK and Australia stand out as having a rather high number of international doctoral degree recipients in general.

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Table 14.3  Share of foreign doctoral degree recipients by major fields (2014)

Germany Sweden Switzerland Portugal USA UK Australia Canada (2013) Japan S. Korea Taiwan

Arts and Total Edu. Hum. 16.0 2.8 9.7 32.1 0.2 1.5 54.4 1.1 5.9 13.1 17.2 17.4 27.2 3.2 7.6 42.8 4.0 14.4 38.7 5.1 5.9 18.3 4.4 8.8

Social Science 8.9 5.6 14.8 18.5 13.6 20.8 20.6 17.7

Sciences 44.0 32.7 39.4 13.7 36.4 28.4 25.4 37.8

Engin. Agricul. Health Services 16.2 4.2 13.5 0.7 36.2 1.4 21.1 1.5 20.3 1.7 11.7 5.0 15.5 13.1 5.7 14.4 31.6 2.6 3.7 1.3 19.0 1.2 12.0 0.1 23.5 4.4 12.8 2.3 21.4 2.7 5.4 1.9

19.0 10.8 19.4 9.0 3.8 8.9

19.7 6.1

8.6 11.7

33.1 10.2

32.6 10.5

6.8 3.8

12.2 5.2

The bold numbers are about 20% or above Data source: OECD statistics ( The Taiwan data are from the Changing Academic Profession in Asia

14.2.6  Transition Periods After Completion We can say with confidence that one of the main triggers for the observed changes in doctoral education and training is the realization that a large majority of doctoral degree recipients will not stay in academia and thus have to be prepared for nonacademic labour markets. This has not only led to a variety of efforts to provide doctoral candidates with a range of courses to acquire transferable skills, it has also led to activities, or at least policy initiatives, to give more structure and direction to the so-called postdoc phase. In fact, the postdoc phase, rather than the doctoral phase, is nowadays that period of time during which additional qualifications are acquired and achievements accumulated (e.g. teaching experience, a list of publications) that determine access to academic positions as well. The postdoc phase as a particular and identifiable phase during which doctoral degree recipients seek to qualify themselves for academic positions originally came from the USA. It was not known as such in the Asian and European countries. The Asian countries have introduced it by adopting the American model of graduate education, while in continental Europe, the habilitation, a second formal q­ ualification after the doctorate, made candidates eligible for professorial positions. Those doctoral degree recipients who did not want to embark on a habilitation either stayed in academia for a while longer as contract researchers in the framework of third-party funded projects or left academia to look for a job in the nonacademic labour market. In the German and Swiss higher education systems, there is hardly any permanent employment within academia outside professorships. In Germany in particular, the rule is that doctoral degree holders can stay in academia for a maximum of 6 years, and then the options are ‘up or out’. Even if the habilitation phase could be regarded


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as some type of postdoctoral qualification period, no systematic or structured form of further training was available for all other doctoral degree holders. As long as they continued working within academia, they were regarded as junior or early career researchers and teachers. However, the concept of a postdoc phase has now also been introduced in continental Europe, and there are efforts in Germany and Switzerland, for example, to structure this phase along issues like career development and more reliable and predictable pathways into employment, be that inside or outside academia. In Switzerland emphasis has been put on collecting further experiences abroad, forming networks and extending one’s list of publications. In Germany there have been policy efforts to abolish the often long period of habilitation by introducing a faster and more independent track towards a professorship through the development of the junior professorship. In Portugal we find an increasing number of scholarships for postdoctoral researchers, and in the UK, the research councils promote an ‘active postdoctoral experience’ with fellowship schemes and new investigator grants. In both South Korea and Taiwan, the number of postdoctoral positions has increased, but postdocs are also encouraged to broaden their experience by going abroad. Nevertheless, postdocs face an increasingly adverse employment situation, notably in Portugal and the USA. Whether grants, fellowships or scholarships are effective instruments to overcome this situation is questionable. Postdoctoral positions can prevent or draw out the move into more stable and secure employment, be it inside or outside academia, and create a holding pen until candidates might be too old for a proper career. This is mentioned in the Korean country report but is also the case for Germany.

14.3  Changes in Institutional Structures and Processes With the introduction of changes to and reforms of doctoral education and training, institutional structures and processes are changed as well. First and foremost we can note in the continental European and Asian countries that universities in general have assumed a higher degree of responsibility for encouraging and managing the process of doctoral training and increasing the output in numbers. Thus, doctoral education and training is no longer an almost exclusive academic affair. Instead it is increasingly related to institutional success and reputation (including rankings), and institutions feel the need to administer and manage processes and outputs. In this section we will discuss four issues that stand out in our country analyses. The first issue concerns about the creation of doctoral programmes and graduate schools as a means to provide structure to the process. Second, we will discuss the tension between cooperation and competition between institutions in terms of attracting the best talent and to internationalize through the establishment of networks and collaborative partnerships. The third issue is the diversification of types of doctoral degrees not least owing to the increase in numbers of doctoral students

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but also as a response to changing labour markets for doctoral degree holders. The fourth and final issue concerns the changing career paths into academia which have been discussed to some extent already in Sect. 14.2.4 but will be analysed here with a focus on changing requirements in terms of institutional support for professional development and career management and in terms of a differentiation of academic roles and forms of academic contracts.

14.3.1  S  tructuring Doctoral Training: Programmes and Schools The American model of the ‘graduate school’ as an administrative unit regulating enrolment of doctoral students, coursework, supervision, examination and award of degree is well known globally and has been adopted in many Asian countries as a means to provide more systematic research training and produce a higher number of successful completions. The model was based on the notion of maintaining university-­ wide standards for doctoral education. However, graduate schools vary enormously in terms of level of authority. At some institutions they function as a student support unit with a dean who tries to ensure that the quality of education is high and that students have a positive academic experience, while in others the graduate school is part of the central management that manages and governs graduate programmes. This ‘programme model’ has always been different from the ‘apprentice model’ common in Europe in which an individual professor selected his or her doctoral candidates, provided them with a part-time contract or helped to find a scholarship, took over the supervision and acted as the first examiner of the thesis and in the defence committee. Even today, Germany, for example, cannot answer the question how many doctoral candidates actually exist. Although serious efforts are being made to introduce some kind of enrolment or registration system for doctoral candidates, the majority of them (about 60%) are employed as part-time and fixed-term research and teaching assistants (i.e. they are regarded as junior academic staff), while the remaining 40% do not have any formal relationship to the institution at all because they are scholarship holders or ‘externals’ (i.e. employed somewhere and doing their PhD in their spare time). They do have a relationship with their s­ upervisor who can decide individually whether (or not) to accept someone as a doctoral candidate, but this does not require any institutional involvement. Because of the fact that Germany does not have tuition fees, institutional registration or enrolment was never deemed necessary. This situation has changed with the Bologna Process. Although in most European countries doctoral education and training is not accepted as a third cycle of studies as the Bologna reforms suggested – not least due to the fact that eligibility for doctoral training requires a Master degree – policy makers have agreed that the doctoral qualification phase was too important to leave exclusively in the hands of professors. Not only did they want to increase the numbers of doctoral degree recipients


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but they also wanted to reduce time-to-degree. Structuring the doctoral qualification phase by establishing doctoral programmes or graduate schools was deemed to be a solution to the perceived problems. However, the continental European model of the ‘graduate school’ is unlike the American one. Programmes and schools tend to function as some kind of administrative umbrella unit that is responsible for registration, sometimes also admission, and providing a range of courses in which doctoral candidates can acquire transferable skills. The difference between programmes and schools is that programmes tend to be smaller and more focused on a discipline, while ‘graduate schools’ tend to be larger and more interdisciplinary and to offer more general courses addressed to all doctoral candidates of a given institution. Still, participation in coursework of whatever type tends to be voluntary. There are a few doctoral programmes that are supported financially by the research council, a private foundation or another type of sponsor. Such programmes then typically have scholarships for the doctoral candidates and expect them to participate in joint activities or coursework in a more persistent manner. It is also typical for the continental European ‘programme model’ that doctoral candidates have more than one supervisor, but there are still many elements of the ‘apprentice model’ in place. In particular those 60% of German doctoral candidates employed as part-time teaching and research assistants continue to qualify in the framework of the ‘apprentice model’. Focusing more broadly on European developments, we can say that in most countries, some elements of the ‘programme model’ have been introduced as a way to structure the process of doctoral education and provide a more focused and systematic training in research methods and transferable skills, but this has not led to the adoption of the American ‘programme model’ as such. What has emerged could be called a ‘hybrid model’ integrating elements of the ‘apprentice model’ and of the ‘programme model’. However, despite these differences between the Anglo-American and Asian countries on the one hand and the continental European countries on the other, there is a shared notion underlying all these changes, namely, that greater institutional involvement and broader institutional responsibility are required because of the greater emphasis placed on the role of universities to supply highly qualified people for the national (and international) research and innovation systems. This increases the importance placed on doctoral education in the context of knowledge and innovation systems for the economy and society.

14.3.2  Cooperation and Competition The patterns of cooperation and competition among higher education institutions in doctoral education and training are clearly different in Europe compared to Asian and Anglo-American countries. Not least due to funding available from European sources (e.g. the ERASMUS+ Programme), cooperation is common in Europe, while competition prevails in the Asian and Anglo-American countries.

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For top research universities in the Anglo-American countries, doctoral student recruitment is highly competitive, frequently involving competition over levels of student funding, in order to attract the very best students. Attracting the very best is not only linked to status and prestige but also to institutional capacity for research. Several studies have suggested that most leading US research universities will primarily recruit graduates from other leading research universities (Burns 2004; Clauset et al. 2015; Jones and Gopaul 2012). Thus, the competition associated with doctoral student recruitment (and for doctoral students competing for the best places in the best institutions) is related to competition in the job market because graduating from a top research university makes a real difference for an academic career. In the Asian countries, similar trends can be observed. Although in Europe more competition among universities has been promoted, it is by far not as pronounced as in the Anglo-American countries. To some extent this is related to the fact that the reputational hierarchies are less distinct. In addition, there are a number of European support programmes in the framework of which joint and double degrees (in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programmes) are promoted and funded. In addition, new cooperative forms of doctoral education and training have been promoted and supported in recent years. In Germany in particular, but also in Sweden and Switzerland, cooperation in doctoral training between universities and higher education institutions of the nonuniversity sector (universities of applied sciences) has been promoted as well as cooperation between universities and extra-university research institutes (e.g. the Max Planck and the Fraunhofer Societies) and between universities and industry (cf. Sect. 14.3.3 and Chap. 7). Quite a number of the German Max Planck Research Institutes now have their own doctoral programmes and research schools; however, the universities so far have been able to defend their monopoly of awarding doctoral degrees. Therefore the research work of the doctoral candidates as well as part of the supervision can take place outside the university but always needs co-supervision by a university professor and institutional support for awarding the degree.

14.3.3  D  iversification of Types of Degrees and Changing Job Markets Despite the fact that a diversification of types of degrees cannot be observed in all countries included in our study, it has become quite common to distinguish between a research doctorate and a professional doctorate. The research doctorate is frequently the first step towards an academic career but also prepares for the research-­ intensive knowledge sectors of the economy. The professional doctorate is typically focused on the research-based analysis of problems emerging in professional practice, and it is often a qualification for mid-career professionals outside universities who want to expand their career options.


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Apart from these two types of degrees, a further differentiation can be observed in Europe, in particular in the UK.  In Chap. 7 altogether nine different types or models of doctoral degrees have been identified and described. This differentiation is an indicator for the trend that doctoral education and training has shifted from a qualification geared almost exclusively towards the reproduction of the academic profession to a broader form of training and preparation for research-based jobs in the knowledge-intensive sectors of the economy and society. This shift is all the more important as the number of doctoral degree awards has significantly increased over the last decade or so, while the number of academic positions, especially tenure-track or tenured positions, has not kept pace with this increase. This means that an increasing number of doctoral degree recipients will end up on the nonacademic labour market. It has already been emphasized in Sect. 14.2.4 of this concluding chapter that this is one of the main reasons for providing doctoral students with a broader range of transferable skills and making them more aware of the potential range of their career options. But it has become evident in several of the countries included in our study that with the increasing numbers of doctoral degree recipients, academic jobs have relatively declined in their number, and competition for them is sometimes fierce. However, in the Anglo-American systems, there is also an economic element to the notion of expanding degree categories to include professional doctoral degrees. In these systems the top research universities compete for the best students and provide them with funding (frequently including living expenses and research grants). This means that they are actually a cost to the university. In contrast, professional doctoral programmes are often designed to address the needs for working professionals who have to pay fees, sometimes very high fees. There is no assumption that these students require funding because they are often well-paid professionals or their company pays for them. In short, professional doctoral programmes are sometimes seen as a source of revenues for the university as opposed to traditional PhD programmes which are heavily subsidized. Experimentation with different types of degrees thus provides a mechanism to adjust programme requirements to address new market forces.

14.3.4  Career Paths into Academia In recent years there have been three internationally comparative studies on the academic profession which included a discussion about career paths into academia for the younger generation (Teichler et al. 2013; Fumasoli et al. 2015; Yudkevich et al. 2015). All studies have pointed out that for the younger generation entering academia has become increasingly more difficult, less attractive and more competitive. In fact, building an academic career is riddled with major structural problems and challenges and involves extended periods of insecurity due to fixed-term and part-time contracts. In addition, overall job satisfaction in academia has deteriorated in many countries (Altbach 2015; Teichler et al. 2013). Altbach (ibid.) has identified issues of salaries and remuneration, closed labour markets and inbreeding and

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career structures as particular challenges with which the young generation of academics is faced. In their conclusion, Fumasoli et al. (2015) also pointed out that recruitment processes into academia are no longer more or less exclusively determined by local practices but increasingly influenced by more standardized global models entailing a reorganization of academic careers and the emergence of academic markets (Musselin 2010). They observed that the formalization of recruitment processes led to managerial and administrative actors becoming involved and that more detailed legal frameworks have weakened the role of academic peers. Altogether, Fumasoli et al. (2015) identified five changes influencing the pathways into academia: (a) a more detailed structuring of the stages of an academic career; (b) a selection processes having shifted from the doctoral to the postdoctoral stage; (c) a stagnation, in many countries a decline, of access to permanent positions with an insufficient number of tenure-track positions; (d) an increasing proportion of externally funded positions; and finally (e) a slow replacement of the continental European chair system by a department-based model of recruitment. In the countries included in this study, we can also observe a differentiation of academic work and academic positions, first and foremost into teaching-only or research-only positions but also into tenure-track and tenured positions, on the one hand, and contract-based, fixed-term positions, on the other. As the academic job market is becoming increasingly more competitive, at least in those countries which have a mature higher education system, there are increasing expectations that candidates for an academic position will have qualifications and achievements beyond a PhD, for example, a list of publications, teaching experience, presentations at high-level national and international conferences, etc. These achievements become part of the broadly defined academic programme in some research universities, where students are expected to achieve a range of academic accomplishments, such as teaching and publication, while also pursuing their doctoral research. The postdoc phase with its frequently transitional or even precarious funding provides opportunities for graduates to acquire or supplement these additional qualifications and develop a distinct and competitive profile. The postdoc phase thus serves as a holding tank from which some will move into an academic position after a couple of years and others will move into the nonacademic labour market. Finally, we can also observe some loss in status of the academic profession in many countries included in this study and even an increase in the unemployment rate of doctoral degree holders in some countries as shown in the studies of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Overall, the post-PhD transition into the academic labour market has become more complex and challenging, and precarious labour is playing an increasing role in academic work.


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14.4  C  onvergence or Divergence of Doctoral Education Globally? In this last section, we try to provide an overall synthesis of the issues and factors analysed above in order to address the question of whether a global convergence of doctoral education and training can be observed or whether clear differences among the countries and world regions continue to persist. First we look at the nature of doctoral education and training; then we look at changes in institutional structures and processes, and, finally, we address the key question underscoring this volume. Looking at the nature of doctoral education and training, we identified six issues. By looking at the overall patterns or trends, we can conclude the following: • Demographic changes in doctoral education and training can be observed in all countries on which this comparison is based. There is a clear increase of women and international students embarking on a doctoral degree, and there is an increase in the number of doctoral degree recipients from the natural and life sciences. This means that universities have taken on the challenge to supply a highly qualified workforce in order to address the human resource needs of the emerging or existing knowledge societies and economies. • In most of the countries included in this study, there are concerns about time-to-­ degree, and efforts have been made to reduce the duration of doctoral studies. It is interesting to observe that institutions feel that they have an increased responsibility to achieve this goal. However, differences tend to persist. In the USA time-to-degree is clearly longer than in the Asian and continental European countries. Overall it looks like not that much has been achieved in terms of a reduction of time-to-degree. But in continental Europe, the effort has triggered a push away from the ‘apprentice model’ towards a (hybrid) ‘programme model’ of doctoral education and training. • Supervision and quality control now involve a more targeted and managed approach. Institutions feel increasingly responsible to maintain overall quality standards and improve student experience. Shared supervision and a more systematic recruitment aiming for the best and brightest are widespread and also elements more clearly linked to the ‘programme model’. • With the increase in numbers of doctoral students and candidates, it became clear that an ever larger proportion of doctoral degree recipients will end up in the nonacademic labour market. In all countries included in this study, coursework is offered to provide doctoral students with transferable skills. In addition, the professional doctorate has acquired more relevance. • International mobility of doctoral students – be it for a limited period of study or research work abroad or be it for a complete doctoral programme – has become more important. However, we see clear differences between countries charging high levels of tuition fees, especially from international students (i.e. notably the Anglo-American countries), and continental European countries in which mobility is often supported by European funding. Countries with high tuition fees tend

14  Conclusion: Doctoral Education and Training – A Global Convergence?


to recruit many international doctoral students because their fees generate an income for the institution. However, these countries have low numbers of domestic doctoral students going abroad. Asian countries tend to send larger numbers of their domestic doctoral students abroad for the whole duration of getting a doctoral degree, while the European approach is more focused on limited periods of study or research work abroad. Switzerland is an exception here because with more than 54% of international doctoral students, it has the highest proportion among all countries. • In terms of a transition period after completion of the doctoral degree, the notion of a postdoctoral phase has become widely accepted. The postdoctoral phase now increasingly serves as a period to acquire further qualifications, gain experience and accumulate achievements to become eligible for a position in the academic labour market. Alternatively some doctoral degree recipients who originally aimed to work in academia decide to look elsewhere during this phase. Looking at changes in institutional structures and processes, we note that universities in general have assumed a higher degree of responsibility for supporting and managing the process of doctoral training and increasing the output in terms of numbers. Doctoral education and training is no longer an exclusively academic affair left in the hands of professors. We have identified altogether four issues and conclude the following: • With institutions taking over more responsibility for the success of doctoral education and training, the ‘programme model’ has become more widespread because in contrast to the ‘apprentice model’, it can more easily be regulated, managed and administered. Even most of the European countries which are known as traditionally favouring the ‘apprentice model’ have adopted some elements of the ‘programme model’ in order to provide a more structured and systematic approach to doctoral education and training. • Patterns of cooperation and competition continue to be somewhat different in the three world regions included in this analysis. In Anglo-American countries, there is a clear focus on competition, especially among the leading research universities, while in continental Europe, the emphasis tends to be more on cooperation. The Asian countries seem to be somewhere in between these two contrasting trends. On the national level, there tends to be more competition among universities, while they seek cooperation internationally. • The increase in numbers of doctoral degree recipients and fierce competition for positions on the academic labour market has not only led to an increased provision of transferable skills to provide doctoral students with qualifications for nonacademic labour markets but also to a diversification of types of degrees. The most widespread and commonly accepted is the differentiation between a research doctorate geared more strongly towards work in academia and a professional doctorate geared towards work in professional practice. In the Anglo-­ American countries, there is also an economic side to this distinction because top research universities who compete for the best students provide them with funding, while professional doctorates have high levels of tuition fees.


B. M. Kehm et al.

• Pathways into academia is our final issue. Internationally comparative studies have shown that entering academia has become increasingly more difficult, less attractive as well as more competitive. The emergence of academic markets has led to a formalization of recruitment processes in which managerial and administrative actors have become involved and thus weakened the role of academic peers. In our study we also observed a growing differentiation of academic work (teaching only and research only) and academic positions (tenure-track and contract based positions). Increasingly decisions about staying in academia or not are made during the postdoc phase. Overall, the post-PhD transition into the academic labour market has become more complex and challenging. With five out of six issues identified as changing the nature of doctoral education and training converging – the exception here is international mobility of doctoral students – we can say with some confidence that the trend is towards a global convergence of patterns and trends in doctoral education. Similarly three out of four issues – the exception here are the patterns of cooperation and competition – identified as changes in institutional structures and processes of doctoral education and training can be said to show some degree of convergence. However, whether the trend towards convergence is global, we cannot answer definitively. We have analysed four countries each in the three world regions but were not able to include Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. However, given the amount of policy transfer and mimetic isomorphism that is going on in the quest of each country to have at least one, preferably more, world-class universities, it can be assumed that some degree of convergence of doctoral education and training is currently going on at a global scale.

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14  Conclusion: Doctoral Education and Training – A Global Convergence?


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