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Johnson, E. M., & Parmenter, L. (2017). Transferable skills for global employability in PhD curriculum transformation. Presented at the Curriculum Transformation HERDSA Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Sydney, Australia.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11745
Over the past twenty years, higher education has experienced greatly increased doctoral enrolments and corresponding changes in career destinations. Until recently, most graduates could expect to secure academic positions, but this career path is no longer assured or necessarily desired. For example, in the UK, only 14% of PhD students now secure an academic post, and only 19% of UK PhD holders were in higher education research roles three years after graduating. The increasing proportion and diversity of people holding a doctorate is leading to a transformation in how governments, employers, and degree holders themselves consider career possibilities for doctoral graduates. This change in the doctoral demographic and concomitant employment possibilities has precipitated a focus on the development of generic (transferable) skills in addition to the PhD research content itself. Consequently, a range of researcher development programmes has been established, notably national initiatives such as Vitae in the UK and institution-specific initiatives. This expansion of focus has implications for curriculum, with employability as a key driver for what and how we teach doctoral students. However, in facilitating and achieving such curriculum transformation, students’ views of how their experiences and learning have supported, enhanced, or hindered their career and life opportunities have seldom been sought. This issue becomes even more pertinent when discussion is extended to the global sphere. The OECD average for international students in doctoral programmes is 24%, which includes traditionaltype international students who travel to host countries to study. The number increases further when doctoral students in programmes designed in line with “international” standards, but taught by international faculty in a home country context, are added. What do these students consider appropriate preparation for their future employment in terms of transferable skills, and what challenges do they perceive when seeking jobs? Using perspectives gained from an empirical study on transferable skills conducted with doctoral students in New Zealand and the experiences of curriculum transformation in a PhD programme in Kazakhstan designed in collaboration with strategic partners in the UK and USA, the presenters will engage delegates in discussion of doctoral curriculum transformation and transferable skills in a global context. Doctoral candidates are especially welcome at the round table to share their own experiences.
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