Exploring Mature-Aged Students’ Motives for Doctoral Study and their Challenges: A Cross Border Research Collaboration

Annabella Sok Kuan Fung, Jane Southcott, Felix L. C. Siu
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 12  •  2017  •  pp. 175-195

It aimed at investigating the motives and challenges of 15 mature-aged doctoral students at two education faculties in Australian and Asian contexts.

This cross-border research collaboration investigated the first international higher-research forum between two education faculties in Hong Kong and Australia.

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore partic-ipants’ self-reported experiences concerning the motivations and challeng-es of 15 mature-aged doctoral students.

The findings have important implications for global doctoral program de-velopment, international exchange forum organizations, intercultural capaci-ty building, academic enhancement and cross-border research collabora-tion.

From interview data four overarching themes emerged: Taking calculated risks, Determination to succeed, Financial stress, and Balancing life and research.

Recommendations include mentoring schemes, greater support for isolated students, and more opportunities for students to complete their PhD by publication.

More research is needed to investigate mature-aged students’ motives for embarking on study in diverse cultural contexts among different ethnic groups.

This study recognized the merits and potentials of mature students whose research contributes to their societies.

Future research directions include using multiple case study design, thus exploring diverse aspects of the existing sample in greater depth, as well as tapping into a new sample of students at risk of attrition at both faculties.

mature-aged doctoral students, motivation, doctoral program design, cross border research collaboration, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
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