Universidade de Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 4490-4501
ISBN: 978-84-09-08619-1
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2019.1117
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
The political discourse in Europe in the last decades has been using knowledge society as a meta-narrative or as a governance tool to accomplish European integration. In this way, and through the establishment of the European Research Area (ERA), the Lisbon Strategy became the tangible strategy of the EU to enhance cohesion, social development, and to foster economic competitiveness based in Research and Development (R&D) investment. Efforts to introduce comparability within ERA led different countries to translate these macro tendencies in a substantial increase of public investment in R&D. Under the Lisbon Strategy framework and the construction of a knowledge society, Portugal – similarly to other OECD countries – has been redesigning science and technology (S&T) policies in the last years. One of these visible policies is the extraordinary increase in the number of PhD holders in the country. However, all over the world, the academic profession has been facing similar challenges associated with deeper transformations in Higher Education (HE) systems framed by New Public Management (NPM) and managerialism. The impact that these changes had in academic professionalism and professionalisation process is well known in the literature in particular in their working conditions turning increasingly more difficult to get access to the profession. In Portugal, this situation has been worsening due to the austerity policies promoted by the bailout in 2008. As a result, unemployment among PhD holders increased, as it also increased the phenomena of brain drain.
The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological inquiry was to examine the reasons and experiences of (international) students who enrolled in a doctoral degree at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) in order to identify the extent to which students have incorporated the dominant narratives on knowledge society. Empirical evidence from so far 30 semi-structured interviews to students from two scientific areas: Social Sciences, Languages and Humanities (SSLH) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), allows us to conclude that at this university, students still have a traditional vision of a PhD degree and hold a positive and prestigious view on the academic profession. While the impossibility to extrapolate conclusions based on a single case study is recognised, some recommendations for decision-makers at the governance level are presented along with suggestions for further research.
Doctoral training, PhD paths, international students, scientific employment, academia, Portugal.