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The Irish Structured PhD history, development, rationale and objectives Dr. G.Honor Fagan Dean of Graduate Studies NUI Maynooth IUA Deans of Graduate Studies Group Irish developments since 2003 - Enhancing researchers’ education, skills and career development What was in place? What are the key developments? How do they reflect the international and European context? What are the current debates? Doctoral training Needed more doctoral graduates to compete effectively in the knowledge economy (The number of PhD graduates per 1,000 graduates of tertiary and advanced research programmes was 18, far behind Finland (48) and Sweden (75). The Funding Context - Improving Quality and Quantity HRB PhD Scholars IRCSET and IRCHSS Graduate Research Education Programmes (GREPs) HEA’s PRTLI1 to 5 - International Panels assessing competitive research bidding towards producing quality research and a critical mass of top quality researchers around strategic research themes who could engage in research training. PRTLI 4 and 5 supporting themed research training programmes and student cohorts. (Research specialisation development) HEA’s - SIF 1 and SIF 2 – supporting development of graduate infrastructure. (Mainstreaming development) Some Key Players Irish Universities Association (IUA) IUA 4th Level Group (Deans of Graduate Studies) Higher Education Authority (HEA) Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB) Research Councils - (IRCHSS) and (IRCSET) Health Research Board (HRB) REFORM of 3rd and the creation of 4th level. ‘Graduate Education Forum –Key Guiding Principles’ 2006 The development of a quality graduate education system will be reflected by the following features: The best possible graduate education experience for students The development of a ‘rounded’ individual in order to meet the challenges of the workplace. A graduate education environment that is internationally attractive A four year programme with apprenticeship and taught courses and structured entry and exit points The professionalisation of supervision. PhDs of a calibre that makes them sought after internationally Increased number of PhDs Infrastructure and capability to achieve ground breaking research Collaboration, where appropriate, to deliver complementarity Uniquely differentiated collaboration between academia and enterprise in its widest sense. The Structured PhD in 2008 In 2008 the HEA review of the progress of the structured PhD concluded that progress had been made particularly on numbers, but there was some concern that data collection was poor; there was no agreed national definition of structured PhDs or the aims of graduate schools; insufficient evidence of student involvement; relative emphasis on generic versus disciplinary training, and heterogeneous level of progress. What is the Irish Structured Doctorate? Answer to quality benchmark? During 2008, the seven Irish universities came together to agree on the context, components and definition of the Irish structured doctorate. In 2009 the IUA issued a statement on the context and the definition of the developing Irish structured doctorate. Balancing disciplinary integrity with national objectives? (IUA Definition)- The core component of a structured PhD programme is the advancement of knowledge through original research; at the same time the structured PhD is designed to meet the needs of an employment market that is wider than academia; A high quality research experience, training and output consistent with international norms and best practice; To support the original research activity, the following elements are included: – a formalised integrated programme of education, training and personal and professional development activities, – the development of discipline-specific knowledge, research skills and generic / transferable skills, – declared outcomes and graduate attributes in line with national and international best practice; Definition (continued) Supervision by a principal supervisor(s), normally with a supporting panel approved by the institution; Progress to completion is formally monitored against published criteria and supported by formal institutional arrangements in line with national and international best practice; Successful completion and examination of the research thesis is the basis for the award of the PhD degree; Registration is normally for four years for a full- time student. (IUA Statement, 2009) What is the nature of the change? Shift from traditional to structured doctorates. Emphasis on incorporating professional/career skills and advanced specialist taught modules across university sector. Improving quality and increasing numbers of doctoral students New monitoring of the research student life-cycle Enhanced supervisory arrangements. Developing graduate governance at national and institutional level. Investment in research education Monitoring of research education and information reporting Linking research education with key stakeholders in social and economic development Improvement in Research Student Experience Inter-institutional co-operation towards quality programmes and student mobility (Inter-Institutional Collaborative Agreement). Skills A. Ethics and Social Understanding B. Communication Skills C. Personal Effectiveness / Development D. Team Working and Leadership E. Career Management F. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Guidelines for improving quality Internationally Benchmarked? IUA 2004 Conference - was effectively a benchmarking exercise to help guide the development of and innovation in Irish graduate education. This conference led to the 2005 IUA submission to government,, ‘Reform of 3rd level and creation of 4th Level Ireland’ (securing competitive advantage in the 21st century (2005)) The conference proceedings explicitly present and discuss the UKGRAD programme and NSF’s IGERT. 2008 - IUQB/IUA Conference – International doctorate education 2009 IUA Conference- The Irish PhD EUA-CDE and Salzburg II – ‘The Irish PhD’ is making a contribution to outcomes Related to other national models? The Irish model incorporates aspects of other national models. For example completion rates are benchmarked against the UK model, where completion is a strong focus, monitored closely and where timely completion is essential. However, we have a 4 year completion expectation to ensure that the quality of the graduate education does not deteriorate. It could be argued that Irish Graduate Schools tend to fall somewhere between the programme offerings of the United States institutionalized Graduate Schools and the Finnish network model which is particularly well embedded in the international research system and offers a number of good examples of excellent inter- institutional and international cooperation. The highly specialized networked graduate programmes developed for GREPs, PRTL4 and 5 exemplify the Finnish thematic approach, while the overall governance structure in schools in our 7 universities follow the US model (with fewer taught modules taken throughout the programme which is specifically tailored to support the research project). Quantitative Progress From 2004/5 to 2008/9 there was a 47% increase in PhD numbers: 4,448 to 6,795 850 of this total is part-time 1,024 doctoral graduates in 2008 and the SSTI target is to have 1,312 graduations per annum. A recent study indicated that at least a third of enrolled doctoral students are overseas, evenly split between EU and non-EU. Qualitative Progress An array of themed funded structured An array of new supports for all PhD programmes in the Irish research students including: universities: - professional skills, Benchmarked - monitoring through annual progress Inter-university cooperation reports, Cohort funding - advanced skills modules Placements, rotations, innovation - enhanced supervisory support focus. - and enhanced governance beyond Professional skills and advanced individual or team supervisor, and specialist skills beyond the department . Strongly themed. International Panel selection and A majority of research students approval participating in programmes with Critical mass between 30-60 taught credits made up of professional and advanced specialist modules. Key debates and matters pending. Is there provision for 4 years funding from funding agencies? Answer: Not all have moved to 4 years and in current climate argue they cannot. Would the inclusion of taught modules undermine the PhD’s core activity of original research? Answer: The core activity of research has been maintained in that there is no critical shift from this in the Irish Structured PhD design. (continued) All of the funded themed programmes must target national objectives and were subject to competitive funding processes that ensured this - Do social development programmes have parity with economic development programmes? How do structured programmes balance disciplinary integrity with the PhD’s role in reaching national objectives? 2009 budget levels dictate that the number of PhD places that can be funded will have peaked in 2008 at 1055 graduates, and may well fall back to 960 by 2013. Is this a problem? Key Debates (in skills development) How will the development of researchers’ employability be integrated into programmes? - Through professional skills training and a number of other links where possible, transcripts that record training and skills training modules, placements where appropriate, stakeholders incorporated in advisory capacity. Which instruments of skills development are successful? (Under review) - Advanced Specialist Skills proving more enhancing than the Professional/Generic Skills? Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation skills seem to be working best. Issues and Challenges Cohort PhDs are funded, but these are very expensive doctorates. Mainstreaming of Structured PhDs? - Are we creating a two-tier system? The 21st century degree? Inter- institutional, international and linked in. Translating research graduations into positive social outcomes and empirical evidence of same.
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