What We Know about the Dramatic Increase in PhD Degrees and the Reform of Doctoral Education Worldwide: Implications for South Africa

  • M Nerad
Keywords: Doctoral education worldwide, globalization in higher education, reform in doctoral education, increase in PhD production, promising practices


Theories of the “knowledge economy” view knowledge, and particularly new knowledge, as a critical resource to enhance a nation’s economic growth. Governments around the world have invested in doctoral education expansion. Reforms in doctoral education are being shaped by the changing needs of society, of research modes, and of a changed labor markets for PhD holders. The reform elements strive for excellence, expansion, quality assurance, accountability, and international and inter-sector network building. The expansion in doctoral studies has gone hand in hand with an increased flow of international doctoral students, the wish to become a world-class university, and the adoption of more standardized structures and practices of doctoral education. This paper ends with a number of promising reform practices that may be useful for South Africa’s expanding doctoral systems, such as the introduction of postgraduate schools that help implement and initiate innovations in doctoral education on a campus with an eye to high quality.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0258-2236