Research students: who they are, what they study

Research higher degree enrolment growth is driven by international students

Newly released figures from the feds show HDR enrolments grew from just under 50 000 to 66 000 between 2007 and 2017.

The big increase was among international students, which nearly doubled to 33 per cent.

Among domestic students doing doctorates there are more women (55 per cent) than men, although there are marked discipline disparities.

Women lead in medical and biological sciences, HASS and other natural sciences (just). But there are more males in all engineering disciplines and, by a narrow margin, business and management.  And in specific science disciplines men account for 70 per cent plus of enrolments – in maths, physics and astronomy.

Higher degree research also has a strong upper SES skew, with 8 per cent of students from low SES backgrounds in 2011, unchanged in 2017. High SES students accounted for an unchanged 50 per or so.

Overall, equity patterns are similar to undergraduate courses, just worse; “While the HDR cohort mirrors many of the patterns seen in undergraduate education, most equity groups exhibit lower rates of participation in HDR compared to undergraduate courses,” the report states,