Postgrad researchers: few friends on the factory floor

Industry roles in postgraduate research support aren’t even bit-parts

The vast majority of higher degree research students had no “end user engagement,” last year. Newly released federal figures for 2018 show 61 000 of 65 000 did not connect with industry off-campus.

The statistics present HDR student participation in various categories; research internships-512, joint supervision-3563, joint or full-funding from “end user”-828, formal training-524 and “other engagement activities”-957.

Reporting for all categories was not compulsory last year but the situation stills seems clear. As to trend-defying standouts – not really.

It is an issue John McGagh and colleagues identified in a 2016 review of the research training system for the Australian Council of Learned Academies, (CMM April 14 2016).  “With a majority of higher degree graduates moving into careers outside university research, providing candidates with an opportunity to collaborate with industry partners can help improve their future employability while giving industry an insight into the benefits of employing researchers,” they wrote.

Dr McGagh proposed a national placement scheme for HDR students looking to connect with industry, to be run by an independent agency – it would not want for work.


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