Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Associate Professor Glenda Campbell-Evans

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Jan Gray

Third Advisor

Professor Joe Luca

Abstract

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the pinnacle of educational attainment and the most respected of the doctoral programs. The degree certifies the holder as an independent researcher, an expert with extensive knowledge about the chosen field of study, and a professional with a wide range of transferable skills . As such, PhD graduates have the capability to make important contributions to knowledge and drive change in society. Furthermore, PhD graduates represent accumulated human capital, a valuable human resource with potential for making significant contributions to a country’s development. This can materialise through enhancing the knowledge of others, performing various roles that benefit society, applying acquired skills to research projects, improving the performance of work colleagues and making breakthroughs in research. Yet, not much is known about the extent to which the contributions of PhD graduates are maximised at institutional and national levels, since much of the literature does not focus beyond employability or career paths of PhD graduates.

Informed by the human capital theory (Becker, 1993), this study explored the expertise and perceived contributions of Seychellois PhD graduates to national development, and made recommendations for initiatives to maximise their input. Case study was used to gather multiple perspectives to obtain insights into the views of Seychellois PhD graduates and key stakeholder groups in the Seychelles, a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). The research methodology was informed by a phenomenological paradigm and utilised four data collection methods. An online questionnaire provided data for constructing a profile of the Seychellois PhD graduates. This was supplemented by 38 individual interviews and three focus group interviews. Document analysis was also undertaken. The research sample comprised 53 participants, of whom 24 were PhD graduates and 29 were participants from the university, industry, government and community stakeholder groups.

The data were analysed thematically to identify systemic weaknesses, and generated three key findings: a) Seychelles’ lack of readiness for doctoral education; b) limited support and opportunities for PhD graduates; and c) underutilisation of PhD graduates’ expertise. These issues have led to their limited involvement in national development. In response to the findings, three initiatives have been proposed to capitalise on the potential of Seychellois PhD graduates. Firstly, it is vital for a national strategy for doctoral education to include a policy, plan and budget. Secondly, support and opportunities for PhD graduates, actualised through appropriate remuneration, engagement schemes and greater collaboration between PhD graduates and key stakeholder groups to foster participation. Thirdly, better alignment between PhD graduates’ expertise and employment, as well as enhanced visibility of their knowledge and skills.

This study has created new knowledge and provided insights into the contribution of PhD graduates to the national development of a SIDS. It addresses a knowledge gap in the literature and offers initiatives for capitalising on the expertise of PhD graduates, paving the way for them to contribute to development in the Seychelles. This new knowledge could also be of significance to other similar small island developing states.

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