[ASC-list] How do you reach potential PhD students?

James Douglas j.douglas at cqu.edu.au
Wed May 30 22:41:34 UTC 2012

Hi Glenn,

Our Institute trialled Vacation Scholarships last year in an attempt to be more proactive in trying to address the issue of how to increase our future postgrad intake.

What we offered was 4 scholarships paying $300 per week for a period of 8 weeks. We targeted one specific group - high achieving (GPA of 5.5 and above) 3rd and 4th year psychology students. This group was selected simply because we had one of our research active members working closely with them and as we only wanted a trial, it was easier to select students.

The aim was to expose undergad students to the research experience. They worked closely with an established researcher on an existing project over our summer vacation period. Some were involved with statistical analysis or data collection, or a combination of both, as well as other project related activities.

All of the students offered very positive feedback on the experience and all expressed a keenness in pursuing a research career at the PhD level. The ultimate success will of course be in seeing these people follow through and enrol.

With the success of our trial, we are now implementing a more competitive scholarship application process that will be offered to all eligible students working in health and social science discipline groups (our areas of research foci).

We also began a 'meet and greet' series this year with once again, psychology students attending campus during a week long residential school. We gave a number of short, 5 minute presentations on our research areas to the group (about 60 students) and followed that up with a wine and cheese social event which also incorporated a research poster display and a number of our key researchers making themselves available for discussions/questions/enquiries.

This event was very well received and we fielded numerous enquiries from students about undertaking research. Again, the measure of success will be in seeing just how many students do follow up and enrol. We are currently in discussions with other disciplines about holding similar events with them.

We also have monthly research meetings where we invite researchers, PhD/masters students and honours students to discuss matters related to the research experience or on specific projects. This has also proved very popular.

Trying to engage with the particular cohort you describe can be difficult, I agree, and is an issue that I imagine many are trying to deal with.

I hope these few examples of what our Institute is doing give you some ideas.


Dr James Douglas | Science Communicator
Institute for Health and Social Science Research (IHSSR)| CQUniversity Australia<http://www.cqu.edu.au/> |
Building 18/1.32, Bruce Highway, North Rockhampton QLD 4702 |
Telephone: +61 07-4923 2184| FAX: +61 07-49306402 |
Web: http://www.cqu.edu.au/ihssr| Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CQUniIhssr
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From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Glenn Conroy
Sent: Wednesday, 30 May 2012 3:09 PM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: [ASC-list] How do you reach potential PhD students?

Here's a communications challenge (and I'd love some ideas) - young-ish honours university students in their twenties in Australia may be candidates for further postgraduate study.  The Invasive Animals CRC last year had more projects requiring students than suitable PhD candidates who applied.  This year, we're half-way through the process and the situation if anything has got worse.  International students are applying but there are limits on how many overseas students we can subsidise to attend an Australian University.

I'm thinking an opportunity for a PhD chat on Twitter through ahchat at oz<mailto:ahchat at oz> and #phdchat but apart from the usual universities promotions and advertising through educational channels (which is underway), I'm short of ideas.  Our deadline for PhD scholarship applications is 17 August.

What does everyone think?  Is this a PhDs attraction problem for others? It may be symptomatic of science being competitively less attractive to young people for further science when they can make more money elsewhere and sooner (not to mention the mining boom snapping up honours students who may otherwise go onto a PhD).


Glenn Conroy
Communications Manager
Invasive Animals CRC

glenn.conroy at invasiveanimals.com<mailto:glenn.conroy at invasiveanimals.com>
Personal email: glennconroy at hotmail.com

(02) 62012890
Mobile 0406376648
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