Doctoral studies have been changing, and although a PhD continues to be a degree mostly focused on research, it has been shaped to confer PhD students with broader sets of skills, intended to prepare them for jobs outside the academic sector.
This change results from two intertwined trends. First, the transformation of universities into engines of knowledge, associated with rising audit cultures (mostly based on metrics), stagnating public funding, and the relevance of the research mission.
Second, the traditional job market for PhDs, the academic job market, has been seeing throughout the world a decreasing number of professoriate positions relative to a growing massification of doctorates. Universities benefit from having PhD students, and students demand PhD degrees. This dynamic is to continue, even if the result so far is an increased number of PhD holders in contingent, precarious positions.
This research looks at PhD students at three Asian flagship universities (National University of Singapore, The University of Hong Kong, and Seoul National University) and analyses the determinants that shape the preferences for them to choose career paths outside academia upon conclusion of their PhD.
The findings are expected to contribute not only to the academic literature (studies of this nature in Asia are scarce) but also possibly raise polemic policy implications.
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