Higher degree research (HDR) in the fields of art and design is rapidly transitioning to meet the international socio‑cultural shifts and recent changes to funding models. Brexit for example, is limiting the participation of British art and design researchers in EU collaborative grants, while funding cuts in Scandinavia are resulting in the closure of influential HDR art and design programs. In Australia, similar structural changes and demands for greater accountability are transforming HDR programs. Due in part to these shifts, major reviews of HDR at The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) have resulted in nuanced variations of the university’s PhD scholarships and challenges to the perceptions of the qualification as a one-size-fits-all model. This paper will outline new PhD scholarships and frameworks that UNSW is developing in response to the emerging stakeholder needs identified by the university: the UNSW Scientia PhD scholarship for applicants with industry experience; the iPhD scholarship developed with the federally funded research organisation CSIRO; and the development of an equity framework for meeting the needs of Indigenous Australians, local disadvantaged communities, and international communities in Africa and Asia in the university’s PhD programs. This paper will focus on the differentiated PhD scholarships at the university, recommendations of two university-wide working groups on equity in HDR at UNSW, and observations of informal HDR pre-admission preparation at the Faculty of Art and Design for practice-led and non-traditional research outputs (NTROs). While early pilot-testing of a new approach to developing the framework for geo‑politically relevant NTROs is promising, the paper also identifies several burning questions requiring careful consideration within a research-intensive university.
Associate Professor Katherine Moline is the Associate Dean Research Training, School of Art and Design, UNSW Sydney. Her research focuses on the dynamics between technological and social forces in art and design. She is also a curator and practising artist.