PhD career research
The transformation of the Hungarian higher education structure in accordance with the Bologna system was fulfilled in Spring 2006, when the higher education institutions had already announced the vast majority of their study programmes (only) in accordance with the introduction of the two level educational system. In addition to the basic or undivided programmes, increasingly master programmes have been started since 2007, mainly in the institutions that had formerly been considered as universities under the old educational logic and are still deemed to be such. In addition to two-level training programmes becoming widespread, one important change that took place at universities as early as the mid-1990s, which received relatively little attention, was the commencement of PhD programmes in higher education institutions. PhD programmes that meet the standards of international scientific practice may be perceived to be the third level of higher education that had in some sense chronologically preceded the establishment of the first two levels.
The empirical sociological research on the study experiences and opinions of the programmes of the students participating in the new type of PhD programmes were started in the late 1990s (1). Based on the experiences of the questionnaire surveys conducted between 1997 and 2002, the team of the Universitas Atelier of Higher Education Research undertook a multi-element research programme in 2001-2002 (2). The first step of this was an expert study entitled Mit tudunk a doktoráltakról? [What do we know about people with doctorates?] which prepared to explore the situation that (in addition to describing the legal regulatory environment) analyses the present Hungarian situation of PhD programmes by processing several databases. The empirical sociological surveys trying to explore the determining factors of the life careers of PhD-s by in-depth interviews and questionnaire techniques also constitute an important part of the research programme. The first national career tracking survey of PhD-s was conducted among these. The data collection of 700 persons carried out in 2002 was followed by another questionnaire survey in 2006-2007. The latter research of 600 subjects was a follow-up of the people that had been asked four years previously (300 persons) on the one hand, and included people completing their PhD studies between the two surveys (300 persons). The two data collections, which were carried out at different times, and the three partial samples provide opportunities for various comparative analyses (3).
The results of career tracking research present details of very different life career paths after obtaining a PhD degree. Although with different weighting, the higher education-scientific institutional system, the competitive sphere and the administration-municipality sphere are all important fields of success. Despite sometimes extremely varied careers between educational fields, the determining role of PhD programmes in scientific and university-college lecturer recruitment can be clearly seen, which shows an obvious relationship with the traditions of Hungarian scientific education.
The GCT (Graduate Career Tracking) research programme builds on these research results in terms of its themes as well as its methodology. New data collection - which will hopefully allows for understanding new relationships of the careers of graduates in general - will be carried out in a yet not surveyed group, that is even more significant that in number than PhD-s, that is the people completing their PhD courses but no actually obtaining the qualification. Although the rate of people completing the study requirements of the PhD school, but for some reason not obtaining (or not yet obtaining) their qualification is different by fields of study. Career surveys have made it clear that this is a well defined group in terms of labour market position, and professional-scientific career building.
The research planned however does not only focus on presenting careers, but on the analysis of the role of PhD programmes in professional career-building and careers on the labour market as well. Similarly to obtaining a PhD degree, the effect of the completion of PhD studies may differ in the correlated, but generally clearly separated segments of success. Previous research results strengthen our hypothesis that the differentiation between not only existential circumstances, but professional success and labour market position may be valid, if we try to examine the complex effect mechanism of obtaining a scientific degree. In addition to the analysis of different factors of success, however, it seems to be essential to map up the personal and inter-institutional system of relations in detail, which presumably play important roles in professional progress. The research results already obtained convincingly prove that the role of professional (mainly lecturer) relationships established during the time of either the undergraduate or the graduate study programme is determining in later progress and employment.
The development of the detailed methodology of the research is in progress.
The planned themes of the data collection to be potentially conducted in 2010 are similar to those of the previous PhD career research.
Examination dimensions - themes of the questionnaire
a.) School history
b.) Motivation, life planning
c.) Assessment of the study programme in terms of professional progress
d.) Employment, success on the labour market
e.) Labour market assessment of PhD degree
f.) Role of relationships in employment-professional network
g.) Professional and labour market career strategies
h.) Professional attachment and commitment "leaving the profession"
i.) Maintaining a connection with the training institution
- 1. PhD career research
- 2. Footnotes