The changing nature of PhDs

6 June 2013

As announced last June the University is providing PhD candidates with training to better prepare them for future employment.

These changes have been made in response to the Australian Government's publication - Research Skills for an Innovative Future (pdf 1.4MB) and advice from groups such as the Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT).

"One of the most sobering pieces of feedback from BHERT was that employers do not regard Australian PhD graduates as being suitable for managerial positions," said Professor Marie Carroll, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs). "They may have expertise in a particular field, but often have very little experience outside that field."

"We are trying to make the PhD more relevant. Our aim is to help students produce not only high quality theses, but for them to be high quality researchers who can be effective thinkers and communicators outside their particular disciplines."

"We need to focus more on employer attributes because the majority of students are entering a workforce outside of academia."

The pilot program was successfully trialed in the second semester of 2012 in the Faculty of Engineering and IT and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and is now being implemented across the University.

The training needs analysis tool has been developed to help research supervisors work with their students to identify areas where they may need training. Annual assessments will monitor a candidate's progress.

The University and Faculties will source training resources such as workshops, seminars, short courses and online modules to help students develop these skills and prepare for future employment.

Along with training in a range of areas including oral and written communication to both specialist and non-expert audiences, PhD candidates will have the opportunity for career development during their studies. This will involve industry networking and training in issues to do with commercialisation, intellectual property as well as professional conduct and development.

Other key areas of training will cover research integrity, professional responsibility, project management and the sharing of knowledge.