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Undervaluing doctoral education post-COVID brings risks

Image: iStock In July 2020, we wrote a personal reflection on the isolation of doctoral education in the time of COVID-19 , focusing on the effects of lost opportunities for skills development, training and network-building in doctoral education. While we made some recommendations at that point for ways to counter a few of these issues, new systemic challenges have since emerged in different national and institutional contexts.

As national systems of higher education and individual higher education institutions grapple with loss of funds in this pandemic year, recent months have shown that the consequences may have dire implications, especially for doctoral education.

By undervaluing the role of doctoral education in higher education, national higher education systems risk critical long-term damage, not only to higher education, but also to economic and human development.

The value of doctoral education

With the rise of the knowledge economy, individual nations have sought to differentiate and to strengthen their higher education systems through the inclusion of research universities. This trend includes the creation of doctoral-level programmes across disciplines, from STEM fields to the humanities and social sciences.

As such, doctoral students play an increasingly important role in the economic and sociopolitical development of countries through their roles […]

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