Jing Wang – the first-ever graduate of a cotutelle PhD awarded by Flinders University – says the experience of living and learning abroad will boost her career opportunities by enriching her research skills and enabling her to build valuable networks.
Ms Wang was awarded her double PhD in June at China’s Central South University (CSU), her home institution, following a three-year inter-country comparative study into dementia care in Australia and China, which she undertook as part of a cotutelle agreement between Flinders and CSU.
The concept of a cotutelle, meaning co-tutoring, enables PhD candidates to complete a portion of their doctoral research at home and a portion at a partnering overseas institution, thereby earning a double-badged degree from both their home and host institution.
“The experience of being a PhD candidate in two universities has provided me with more ideas and thoughts about my future research focus, and will facilitate my future collaboration with researchers at Flinders and other Australian universities,” Ms Wang said.
“The opportunity to undertake a double doctoral degree will also enhance my prospects in job and grant applications,” she said.
Ms Wang’s PhD was an extension of an ongoing Flinders-CSU collaborative study that aims to compare aged and dementia care services in Australia and China.
As part of her thesis, she identified the types of burdens encountered by families who care for relatives with dementia in the two countries and explored the impact of these burdens, including the physical, social, emotional, financial and time-intensive challenges, on family caregivers.
She also examined the social, cultural and political challenges affecting family caregivers, and identified possible improvements to dementia care delivery.
Recruiting caregivers from major hospitals, community care centres and nursing homes in Adelaide and China’s Hunan province, the study found that relying on family caregivers without adequate dementia services and support by the public healthcare system generates negative health outcomes for both caregivers and their loved ones.
Ms Wang’s PhD was supervised by Professor Guo-Ping He at CSU and in Australia by Flinders University Dr Lily Xiao and associate supervisor Dr Anita De Bellis.
Dr Xiao, a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said the cotutelle has enhanced Ms Wang’s research experience and her cultural understanding of Australia, thereby supporting her local and international career prospects.
“The cotutelle has enabled Ms Wang to gain valuable cross-cultural experience and has supported her to build an impressive research track record for job applications,” Dr Xiao said.
“In completing her PhD she published three articles in English in international journals with a relatively high rank and impact, as well as two articles in Chinese journals,” she said.
Dr Xiao said the cotutelle has also strengthened the Flinders-CSU collaboration by improving cross-cultural communication during data collection, data analyses and interpretation.
She said the program will also support the two teams to build a long-term foundation for research collaboration and a track-record for external grants.
For more information on the cotutelle program at Flinders, contact the Office of Graduate Research on (+61) 08 8201 5893.