HERE Study visit “Building Capacity and Quality Assurance for Doctoral Education” (31 May-1 June, 2016, Malmo, Sweden)

What? HERE Study visit “Building Capacity and Quality Assurance for Doctoral Education”

Where? Malmo University, Malmo, Sweden

When? 31 May – 1 June 2016

 The program and materials:

Representative from Ukrainian HERE Team: Mychailo WYNNYCKYJ, Ph.D.

Developing and transforming doctoral education is increasingly seen as a means to bolster both the research and teaching agenda. In many developing and emerging countries, it is a strategic national priority, that is a key component for creating knowledge societies, and generally upgrading the teaching staff at the higher education level. In Europe, it has been a focal area of the Bologna Process and also emerged as a fundamental component of the European Research Area. As a result, doctoral education – both in how it is delivered, structured and viewed – has changed dramatically over the last decade.
The topic of capacity building in doctoral education has been prioritized by the Higher Education Reform Experts in the 2015 needs-assessment.
HERE have expressed interest in the planning and design of doctoral programmes, structures to support the organisation of doctoral studies, such as doctoral schools, quality assurance in doctoral education and international collaboration and networks in doctoral education, as well as generally building research capacity.
The present study visit tries to address all of these issues. It will look at doctoral education through the lens of a young Swedish institution, which has built its doctoral education and research capacity over a relatively short period of time. The event will feature presentations, discussions and group activities, involving different staff members and students from Malmoe University with different perspectives.

Learning outcomes:
• Get acquainted with building and structuring doctoral programmes, and what they imply in terms of resources, management, quality assurance, etc – specifically through the lens of one institution
• Understand the key questions and resource implications regarding supervisors, their training, and the general support for and relationship to doctoral candidates
• Understand and analyze the strategic motivations to develop doctoral education, including its relationship to internationalisation
European trend towards PhD
• The transition from “mentoring” (1:1) to “structured” PhD education programs (a plurality of managers + an auditorium component)
In Sweden, the law states that each postgraduate student must have at least two supervisors, and the other supervisor must necessarily be from another institution.
• Accumulation of “critical mass” in Doctoral Schools (various administrative functions)
1. Disciplinary – inter-institutional
2. Interdisciplinary – within the same institution

The imposition of cooperation (for example, between universities and research institutions) “from above” is doomed to failure. It is necessary that researchers (potential managers) themselves see the benefits of cooperation. It can be promoted through joint seminars, courses, workshops. But in reality, the formation of joint programs is possible only under conditions of goodwill of researchers (scientific leaders).
The quality of the PhD depends on the quality of the supervisors

“Improving doctoral education is not just about adding coursework (even if its measured in ECTS). It’s about changing the quality culture in universities and research institutions. First and foremost we need to change the way supervisors supervise. Doctoral candidates receive their acculturation into research careers in the first place from their supervisor, but the research profession that these candidates will work in, will be very different than it was for their supervisors. If we want to improve doctoral education quality, we need to focus on improving the research environment at the institutional level, and that means in the first place, improving supervision practice.”

“Instituting ECTS will not get the student out of the lab if the supervisor is not willing (does not see value in courses offered). The purpose of the postgraduate study is to prepare the researcher (production of new knowledge).
For the effectiveness of postgraduate studies, an appropriate research culture is needed – it needs to be cherished among supervisors.
Scientific supervision needs to be taught – written guidelines, training, accountability mechanisms.

An example of success is Sweden:
“Higher Education Qualifications Ordinance” – 240 ECTS for PhD study programme.
Each graduate student works on an individual plan of scientific work – a document which will be checked from the next year in the process of accreditation (for the purpose of fulfilling a post-graduate student’s obligations on time)
• 70% of graduate students complete their defense for 5 years
• 80% of theses are written and protected in English
• 50% of PhDs do not work for Universities; their “snatch” Swedish business
• All graduate students are considered to be University staff – the rates are different
A key element of the success of postgraduate training is the research environment, and the key point in introducing a postgraduate in this environment are scientific supervisors (two). Legislation allows the change of supervisor in special circumstances (the requirement of one’s consent to change).
Non-research Universities (Uppsala and Lund is independent) provide a form of “licensing” of PhD programs. Criteria:
• Publications + training of potential supervisors (in Malmo – 6 days course)
• Integrating the environment with others (including through mobility)
• Ability to provide an environment through courses

Quality Assurance in PhD education:

Quality question: “fitness for purpose” – What is the purpose of postgraduate study?
• Dissertation is the result that is subject to evaluation
• The researcher – it’s more difficult to evaluate a preparation but a more important criterion
If the purpose of the postgraduate study is “education” of the researcher, the dissertation becomes a means, and not the purpose of preparation.

Education is a process, not a product. Accordingly, the quality of the process (its ability to provide a good result), and not just the result, should be evaluated
Qualitative postgraduate study is possible only in the conditions of functioning autonomy
• Research environment / culture – own courses of related skills
• Additional requirements / incentives – eg. publications, variable postgraduate salary
• Formation of links between establishments “bottom up”
• Joint courses in specialty – graduate students compete for places for seminars
• Permanent benchmarking – comparison between institutions by postgraduate students themselves
• Co-leadership – joint publications + accumulation of critical mass

Background documents:
• CODOC – Cooperation on doctoral education between Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe:
• Quality Assurance in Doctoral Education – results of the ARDE project:
• Principles and Practices for International Doctoral Education:

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