‘Valuing part-time postgraduate studies?’ by Dr David Howard, MSc course director and lecturer

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John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Funding for postgraduate studies is making the news. Innovative entrepreneur, Juan Guerra, has recently been awarded a Centenary Venture Award by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (the RSA) for devising Studentfunder, an online means for facilitating the costs of post-graduate study and the pursuit of further professional education. Guerra recognised the paucity of funding for financing further studies, as have many Universities in the UK, and beyond.

Universities and some educational funding bodies have increasingly focused on raising scholarships to assist postgraduate research, but this  too has generated concerns. In many instances, universities are celebrating the rise in postgraduate numbers, particularly the range of scholarships opening up for PhD studies.

As research opportunities are augmented, however, growing criticism and concerns have emerged that those leading tertiary education are failing to consider the after-thesis trajectory. With fewer academic or research jobs available, what value is a PhD? The new DPhil programme in Sustainable Urban Development, and the ongoing MSc Sustainable Urban Development, at the University of Oxford, are timely counters to these concerns. Students studying for the part-time DPhil and the part-time MSc programme are already employed, and are looking to integrate work, training and study – their professional demands, meshed with academic and intellectual trajectories. The knowledge they seek and explore during evidence and practice-based research and study will be fed directly into, and perhaps transform, existing employment structures, arguably generating more work opportunities and opening up career pathways.

Students on the programme at Oxford can readily tap into a growing network of alumni connections, at the course, departmental and University levels. One message rings out: applying knowledge gained from, and engaging with, novel research and newly materialising urban development practices is a key part of study. Once you have this fresh set of knowledge and skills, not only how do you apply these, but how do you transform and lead your field? Utilising learning, adding originality, lies at the core of the Sustainable Urban Development programme at Oxford, and we are looking forward to an innovative new academic year ahead. Applications for the DPhil programme will be shortly launched online via the University of Oxford’s postgraduate admissions facility, and you can still apply for the MSc programme to start in October 2014 – details on-line, and please send any queries to Dr David Howard and colleagues at sud@conted.ox.ac.uk

 

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