UKCGE Chair delivers keynote in Australia

Professor Mick Fuller, Head of the Graduate School at Plymouth University, and Chair of UKCGE attended the Australian Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools (DDOGS) Annual Meeting, hosted by the University of New South Wales, Sydney (UNSW).

UKCGE Chair delivers keynote in Australia

Alongside Professor Fuller, also making keynote presentations at the event were Professor Les Field, DVC® of UNSW and Professor DePauw from the Council of Graduate Schools, USA. All three presentations formed a pre-cursor to a discussion on international perspectives of doctoral education.

Professor Fuller said,

It was very apparent that the Australian PhD was matched very closely to the UK model and Universities were being encouraged by the funding bodies to look at UK initiatives, standards and training and as a consequence many delegates were well informed about the UK systems. My presentation however was still able to initiate discussion and a deeper understanding of UK doctoral landscape and the pressures it faces.’

The programme then moved into more focused plenary discussions with four key themes;

Boosting commercial returns” paper and its research training implications

- The Value of Graduate Schools

- Quality supervision/​Timely completions

- Doctoral Training programmes (DTCs)

Professor Fuller noted that the DDoGs are most currently most concerned about the following issues:

  1. The sustainability of University Block Grant funding in general and doctoral funding initiatives in particular and whether too many PhD graduates are being produced or not.
  2. The employability of doctoral graduates and whether employers outside of the academic sector see the benefit of doctoral training.
  3. Lack of a diverse vibrant Industry sector in Australia outside of Mining, Energy and Agriculture and the low degree of engagement of many academics and industry
  4. Metrics and which are useful to measure quality – lack of comprehensive completion stats.
  5. The structure of the Graduate School (many variants exist) and the constant battle to justify its value to the University in an undergraduate dominated University model.
  6. There was also a little bit of tension between the Group of Eight (Go8) institutions who are research intense and some of the smaller regional Universities especially over the issue of whether or not too many PhD graduates are being produced, and if it were to be reduced, who should take the hit”.

The conference attracted 80 delegates from across Australia as well as a small number of colleagues from New Zealand. The meeting also played host to various meetings of special interest sub-groups e.g. DDoGS Exec; RUN; ARTA; ATN; SDS; IRU; Go8 and a formal business meeting to vote on the incorporation status of DDoGS to become the Australian Council for Graduate Education.

Professor Fuller concluded,

The issues noted above are many of the issues that concern members of UKCGE, and especially the Deans and Directors Network, and emphasis close alignment of the UK and Australian systems and should encourage ongoing discussion and association between UKCGE and DDoGS Australia. ‘

Personally I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and was very warmly greeted and hosted and was glad to be inside during the once in 100 year storm that raged outside with 100 km winds and 100 mm of rain each day of the conference. In particular I would like to thank Laura Poole-Warren and Paul Burnett for inviting me to the meeting and to Simon Kalucy and his colleagues at UNSW for their efficient organisation. Thanks to DDoGs for contributing to my costs and enabling me to attend.’

Link to Professor Fuller’s Presentation: Doctoral education in the UK: ideal models and the stark reality

Link to Professor Fuller’s Presentation: CDT/DTC reviews in the UK

Link to Event Programme