Australia’s first digital doctorate globalises Flinders PhDs

Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint and SkillsForge Chief Technical Officer Mr Jonathan Carr at Flinders Office of Graduate Research earlier today.

The once “medieval” doctorate administration process is being transformed in an Australian-first at Flinders University.

Flinders is the first university nationally to adopt SkillsForge’s fully integrated student candidature system, which means multiple systems connect for a quicker and more seamless process for PhD students.

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,” he says.

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,” Professor Brabazon says.

The agreement between Flinders and SkillsForge was signed by Professor Saint, Professor Brabazon and SkillsForge Chief Technical Officer Mr Jonathan Carr at Flinders University today.

The system will be introduced during Semester 2 this year.


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