Australia’s first digital doctorate globalises Flinders PhDs

Flinders is the first university in Australia to adopt SkillsForge’s fully integrated student candidature system for Higher Degree Research students, an exciting digital solution that will transform the experience of both students and staff from application to completion. Several of the world’s best universities have already adopted the interactive system, which will save hundreds of hours of administration over the life of a doctorate.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint says the system will save hundreds of hours of administration over the life of a doctorate.

“In signing up for a model configured to our specific needs, Flinders joins some of the world’s best universities in adopting the SkillsForge system,” Professor Saint says. “It’s efficient, transparent and accountable, and enhances the quality assurance of a Flinders doctorate.”

After two years of development, the Dean of Graduate Research, Professor Tara Brabazon, is hugely excited, describing the ‘digital doctorate’ as the most significant transformation of candidate management in Flinders’ history.

“We have almost 1,000 PhD students and some 300 supervisors and external examiners. This system gives them consistent real-time information and a dashboard that ensures everyone knows exactly where a student is and how long they have to go,” Professor Brabazon says. “For staff, paperless reporting lifts a significant administrative burden, while for students it’s a one-stop-shop for everything they need to know during their candidature, providing a full digital workflow from the moment they apply right through to completion and graduation.”

Like many universities, the current candidature management is labour intensive, with a mix of paper, email, and web-based processes.

“Our trial of the SkillsForge system showed stunning results – instead of five hours to submit a particular document, the task was complete in 20 minutes,” Professor Brabazon says. “Multiply this across 1,000 students several times a year, and the savings are massive. Being entirely digitised means it’s possible to do a Flinders PhD with confidence anywhere in the world. With automated milestones and reminders, this fully digital workflow will make it simpler to track and manage every doctoral student here and internationally.”

The University’s contract with SkillsForge was signed in April, with the solution to be delivered before the end of 2018.

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