Part-Time Students Should be Eligible for UoA Doctoral Scholarships

To be awarded the UoA doctoral scholarship, students must enrol to study full-time. Although the cohort of part-time doctoral students is small, it is unfair that they should miss out on this scholarship opportunity.

What is the issue?

Part-time doctoral students are not eligible for the UoA doctoral scholarship unless they can demonstrate ‘socially compelling’ reasons for undertaking part-time study. This criteria is inequitable and out of date.

An increasing number of doctoral students are choosing to study part time due to concerns such as financial instability. The cost of living has increased dramatically in Auckland in recent years, and for some students it is simply untenable to study full-time for a PhD and simultaneously work a paid job (or several) to earn an income. This point is particularly relevant for students who need a steady income to support children and/or family members.

Furthermore, for some students it may be important that they continue working in a professional capacity throughout their doctoral studies. For clinicians, nurses, teachers, and other professions, the workplace environment can provide perspective and stimulation that enhances their doctoral studies.

Additionally, it is an issue of privacy that part-time students should have to disclose their personal circumstances in order to be eligible for a doctoral scholarship. Students should not be placed in a situation where they must disclose aspects of their personal life to university administrators. This approach shows a huge lack of cultural sensitivity, and only serves to grow the power imbalance between students and staff.

Finally, we must consider the groups who are disproportionately affected by this rule. Part-time students are likely to be those who have carer responsibilities, obligations to their whānau, and/or financial instability due to a lack of parental or family support. These concerns are primarily those of women, Māori and Pacific students, and individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds. It is inequitable that the doctoral scholarship criteria should disproportionately exclude some of the most vulnerable in our community.

What did we do?

We sent a letter to Pro Vice-Chancellor Education Bridget Kool. You can view the letter here.

The university rejected our suggestion and no change to the doctoral scholarship criteria was actioned.

What’s next?

We continue to advocate for changes to the doctoral scholarship criteria. A ‘doctoral scholarship review’ is currently underway, and we intend to submit feedback including our opinion that part-time students should be eligible for the UoA doctoral scholarship.

Better Postgraduate Support is Our Mission

University of Auckland, Grafton Campus