Evaluation of level 10 PhD education in the School of Science at an Irish Institute of Technology

McGuinness, Martina (2013) Evaluation of level 10 PhD education in the School of Science at an Irish Institute of Technology. In: 6th Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference – Sustainable Models of Student Engagement – Rhetoric or Achievable? 17th October 2013 in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin., Dublin, Ireland.


Ireland still retains a binary system in third level education, i.e. both traditional universities and Institutes of Technology (IOTs). There are seven traditional universities and a total of 14 IOTs recognised under Irish legislation. The aim of the current study is to use a questionnaire to evaluate how well level 10 PhD graduates from the School of Science at a specific IOT are prepared for, and succeed in, the workplace. These are important questions for a number of reasons: (i) the 2004 OECD Review of Higher Education in Ireland advocates retaining the binary education system in Ireland (i.e. IOTs and traditional universities), (ii) there are equivalent numbers of third level students in Ireland in IOTs and in traditional universities, (iii) there are some negative views on the role of IOTs in educating level 10 PhD students and (iv) the possible merging of IOTs to form Technological Universities (TU) as suggested by the Higher Education Authority. Analysis of questionnaire data shows that while the PhD graduates from the School of Science at this IOT took longer than average to complete their PhD training programme, they acquired a number of valuable discipline-specific and transferable skills that resulted in 94% of graduates being currently employed, with 41% in management positions, and 35% in the higher education sector. The unique IOT PhD graduate environment, albeit with fewer students and resources, appears to contribute to a more holistic learning and training experience producing PhD graduates who are independent thinkers and planners, and good communicators. A number of specific practices that could be put in place to enhance the existing PhD programme in the School of Science at this IOT were suggested by these PhD graduates. The conclusions from this study are specific to the level 10 PhD programme at a specific IOT but may resonate with other IOTs and contribute to the national discussion on the merit of level 10 PhD graduate education in TUs.

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Book-of-Abstracts 6th Annual LIN conference 2013.pdf

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