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The Irish Phd


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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
 Higher Education Authority (HEA)
 Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB)
 Research Councils - (IRCHSS) and
 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
 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
   Improvement in Research Student Experience
   Inter-institutional co-operation towards quality programmes and student
    mobility (Inter-Institutional Collaborative Agreement).
    A. Ethics and Social
    B. Communication
    C. Personal
     Effectiveness /
    D. Team Working and
    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
   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
    A recent study indicated that
    at least a third of enrolled
    doctoral students are overseas,
    evenly split between EU and
                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

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.
   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

   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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