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This conference proceeding was originally published as:

Tuovinen, J., Buxton, G., Spence, S., & Williams, A. (2014). Quo Vadis: Doctoral programs in private non-profit higher education? The view from two providers. Paper presented at the 11th Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference, Adelaide, Australia. Retrieved from

ISBN: 9780994310309


130103 Higher Education| 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership| 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators

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In order to provide high level research and postgraduate education opportunities in the widest possible range of contexts, private non-profit higher education providers (PNHEPs) have developed doctoral program offerings outside the university system. We discuss the nature of these programs, their origins, quality control mechanisms and current trajectories. We also explore the advantages and benefits of private doctoral programs along with their challenges and limitations. Participants in the provision of private non-profit doctoral programs with a Christian ethos discuss these issues in this paper, dealing with both professional and research doctorates. Apart from the limitations arising from working outside the funding envelope of university doctoral programs and university self-accrediting status, numerous other potential limitations had to be overcome. These included the range of supervision resources available, the nature of academic freedom, and minimal institutional research culture. How these and other hurdles were overcome and how the collaborative engagement of a wide range of national and international top scholars was achieved is presented via case studies of two multi-disciplinary colleges. The current doctoral programs in the two colleges reflect differing approaches to program quality and accreditation, one tending towards specialisation, the other towards a more generic model. These approaches may converge in the future as the experiences of the different players in the field are shared and optimal approaches are identified. This paper may assist institutions in deciding whether to adopt a generic or specialised approach for research doctorates.


Used by permission: Quality in Postgraduate Research

At the time of writing Anthony Williams was affiliated with the University of Newcastle.

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