M. Maunula

Jyväskylä University, Kokkola University Consortium (FINLAND)
This article is based on my doctoral thesis research in Education. The objective was to understand the experiental stages of supervision and lifecourse of the doctoral students through their stories.

The changing social and global contexts need to be paid attention in the doctoral education, and they are reflected in the universities. The high-quality skills and the centrality of knowledge are emphasized in the global economy. Increasing expectations are set for the doctoral education by different quarters. The objective of universities and the interest of the society is to produce even younger doctors, which the universities are directed towards by financing according to the results and by intensifying the practices in supervision.

The doctoral degree qualifies the doctor for the different specialist tasks of working life better than before and also the demands of working life towards the doctors increase continuously. The work is often creative specialist work, in which learning new things and at the same time modifying their own skills and occupational identity are a natural and a continuous process. Of the future doctors only a fraction continue their working career in academic tasks, the majority moves to or continues to be employed in other lines of work. The universities have become aware of the challenge and have taken action to improve the doctoral students' readiness for working life.

In spite of its wide connections and high objectives, studying for a doctoral degree is largely operation at the individual level which is affected by the individual starting points, objectives and contexts. Doctoral studies are undertaken in a number of ways and the ones studying for a doctoral degree are also a heterogeneous group. It is advantageous for the doctoral student to realize the demands of the process, the available resources, the opportunities and challenges unfolding in the future and to clarify their own objectives. Alongside the changes and objectives an individual, the doctoral student needs to be considered. The doctoral studies as well as an individual lifecourse are as a part of the social operation which is affected by other development.

More specific guidance or mentoring would offer new benefits for doctoral students in their doctoral studies in addition to the general supervision of studies. According to the doctoral students, there would indeed be the need for more comprehensive guidance and mentoring at the first stages of the process of gaining a doctoral degree, and that would have increased the effectiveness of the first stage. A more comprehensive approach is striven for in developing the supervision of doctoral studies, in which attention is paid both to the starting points and the career expectations of the future.

It is beneficial for the one considering the doctoral studies to clarify the stages of doctoral process, advantages and disadvantages beforehand. With wider supervision, the mentoring and closer working relationships could be used to strengthen the development of expert identity, reduce the experienced uncertainty regarding employment and relevance of own skills in working life. Tighter forms of cooperation between economic life and the university would reduce prevailing uncertainty between different quarters. The wider awareness of the common objectives and of the current state is an advantage for all involved in doctoral education, economic life, university and an individual.