Leap forward for higher learning

Feature Story

The launch of Deakin’s Graduate Research Academy and PhD Xtra program places the University at the leading edge of research training in Australia.

Deakin University PhD students and researchers have access to new opportunities and an enhanced learning experience through the University’s unique researcher training and support program.

The Deakin Graduate Research Academy (GRA) provides opportunities for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students and academic researchers to expand their skill set and professional development.

A key pillar of the GRA is Deakin’s Australia-first PhD Xtra program. Established late in 2016, this enhanced PhD program aims to equip candidates with the knowledge and skills needed for a rapidly changing and highly competitive research and employment environment.

Students enrolled in PhD Xtra are able to develop an individual, flexible learning plan tailored to their needs with accredited research training, additional program content and career pathway placements that provide relevant industry experience.

The program meets all 11 key findings of the Australian Council of Learned Academies’ 2016 review, an achievement yet to be matched by any other Australian university.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO said the GRA and PhD Xtra would help Deakin achieve the fundamental purpose of a university, which is to produce future generations of thought leaders and innovators while supporting the present generation.

“One of the primary purposes of a university is to produce people with the discipline knowledge and professional skills necessary to push the frontiers of knowledge and make the world a better place in every respect.”
Professor Jane den Hollander AO
Professor Jane den Hollander AO Deakin University Vice-Chancellor

“It is the high calling of doctoral education and academic researcher training to produce individuals who epitomise this leadership,” she said.

“Through the GRA, we will assist Deakin researchers, one and all, to be the best they can be and ‘the best of the best’.”

Prof den Hollander said the Academy would be used by Deakin’s developing researchers for a “substantial and significant amount of their career and professional development needs.”

“It will provide yet another differentiator for the University, facilitating lifelong learning pathways for our researchers.”

The GRA integrates Deakin’s HDR Program Team, International Research Training, Researcher Training Program, and central research training staff.

The initiative makes available a large and expanding set of training and professional development modules relevant to broadening and expanding the knowledge and skill set of Deakin researchers.

Additional international PhD partnerships will lead to enhanced learning experiences for Deakin students and collaborative opportunities for staff in strategically valued areas.

Online training and support for HDR students and supervisors based outside Australia is also an essential aspect of the GRA’s offerings.

The new program will provide further evidence to research and industry partners that they are working with professionals who are focussed on being at the cutting edge of innovation and achieving great outcomes for all partners.

Professor Joe Graffam, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Performance Enhancement, said that in an increasingly competitive higher education environment, the GRA is the vehicle to carry Deakin into the next phase of its development as a maturing research university.

“The Federal government is looking for improvements in engagement, impact, quality of grants and outputs, and quality of research training and supervision.”
Professor Joe Graffam
Professor Joe Graffam Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Performance Enhancement

“For us to thrive in this increasingly competitive and dynamic environment, we need to provide our people with the best possible opportunities for learning, growth and development,” he said.

“PhD Xtra and the Graduate Research Academy are intended for that purpose.”

Prof Graffam stressed that the GRA is not a graduate research school, but a “repository and resource” that provides access to a wide range of training modules and courses relevant to staff researchers and HDR students.

“The GRA and PhD Xtra program reflect our continuing substantial growth in HDR numbers, both domestic and international, and our obligation to provide a world-class training environment for our thought leaders and innovators,” he said.

Published by Deakin Research 15 June 2017.