Beyond student satisfaction: measuring the quality of doctoral training programs

Juliet Lum, Kim Tan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Over the last 15 years, particularly in Britain and Australia, there has been a shift in doctoral education from the supervisor-student apprenticeship model to a more structured program of research training that prepares candidates for careers in higher education and elsewhere (Thomson 2014). Universities now invest significant resources into establishing doctoral training centres, offering candidates a suite of courses to develop capabilities that extend beyond thesis writing to transferable skills such as project management, strategic networking and entrepreneurship. But how is the quality of such training programs evaluated? In QPR 2014, we showcased our Higher Degree Research (HDR) event management system that both manages event registrations and administers participant satisfaction surveys to attendees; the system thus provides program managers and the university with an indication of the extent to which the program is meeting HDR student demand and expectations. However, feedback surveys administered immediately after a workshop provide only one measure of quality, and are arguably a blunt indicator of the usefulness or long-term value of that training event. In this paper, we contend that a doctoral training program can be regarded as “high quality” if it produces not only satisfied candidates, but skilled candidates. We present enhancements recently implemented in our event management system, and discuss how these provide a richer evaluation of the quality of our HDR training program, extending beyond student satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th biennial quality in postgraduate research (QPR) conference
EditorsMichelle Picard, Alistair McCulloch
Place of PublicationAdelaide
PublisherQPR Organising Committee
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)9780994310316
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event12th Biennial quality in postgraduate research (QPR) conference: Society, Economy & Communities: 21st Century innovation in Doctoral Education - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 20 Apr 201622 Apr 2016


Conference12th Biennial quality in postgraduate research (QPR) conference


  • doctoral training program
  • event management systems
  • measuring quality
  • HDR training needs
  • student satisfaction


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