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Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society

VU International News and Reviews No. 122 October 22 2018

October 2018

At first glance, a common reader might not appreciate “Doctoral Education for the Knowledge Society – Convergence or Divergence in National Approaches?” by Jung Cheol Shin, Barbara M. Kehm and Glen A. Jones (Editors). (S)he might find this book about doctoral education systems across continental European, Anglo American and East Asia territories, a mere collection of chapters exploring similarities and differences between systems and concluding on a common trend towards convergence.  However, upon a closer look lies the gem. Namely, the book illustrates what causes convergence and how each doctoral system dealt with it in its own unique way.

Prominent higher education researchers such as Lars Geschwind, Pedro Teixeira, Glen. A. Jones, Futao Huang, Jung Cheol Shin and many others, explore how external pressures and labor market turbulences (Germany, Canada, Switzerland), performance based accountability regimes (UK) , governmental policies to follow international trends and rankings  (Sweden, China, Taiwan, South Korea), national policies for impact (China), institutional changes (US), and the need for broader PhD competences that go beyond academic skills (Switzerland, Australia, Taiwan) all contributed to structuring and standardisation of doctoral education. Despite the obvious similarity in structuring doctoral education, the chapters show an array of varied causes for this structuring. They also testify of the differences in means and measures to achieve more structure. Bottom line, we are witnessing increasing changes in doctoral education, or better yet, emerging forms of doctoral education training as hybrid forms of national, international and global interference. I wonder where these emerging and hybrid form of doctoral education are heading and how and whether they undermine or reinforce traditional doctoral education elements.

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