Media releases

MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA calls for PhD duration to match actual minimum completion times

14 Mar 19

CAPA calls for PhD duration to match actual minimum completion times

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has called for the duration of PhD enrolments be extended in line with minimum reasonable completion times. This is a key recommendation of our submission to the review of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF).

The AQF currently states that a full-time study load is 1,200 hours a year, equating to 23 hours per week; over three to four years for a PhD. However, this is much less than the minimum 30 hours per week which universities require for PhD students, and far below actual hours worked, with most PhD students working on their research for at least 40 hours per week.

The excessive work hours of PhD students are in part due to most universities funding only the minimum three years to complete the doctorate from start to finish, despite median completion time being over four years.

The AQF is one of several instruments to set minimum standards for the content and nature of qualifications. However, currently the guidelines in the AQF do not match the reality of doctoral study, with the hours per week and duration of the qualification being too short. We have recommended that the AQF duration of study for research degrees be amended to reflect expectations of minimum working hours and completion times.

A change to the AQF is an opportunity to shape university policy around candidature and scholarship duration, which for most students are completely inadequate to see them through to completion.

For comment:
CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993