Research Paper 27: Industrial Doctorates – Employer Engagement in Research and Skills Formation


This paper examines forms of industrial involvement in doctoral education for the new competence building, workforce skills development and the formation of “hybrid spaces” between academic and industry through the mobility of talents. Knowledge exchange activities between university and industry have direct and indirect education implications for doctoral students and their research experiences. Nevertheless, there is little empirical research with regard to the educational impact of university-industry relationships or analysis of the implications for research training.

The paper looks at the development of “industrial doctorate programmes” in the UK over the past decade in relation to the wider international debates surrounding the changing nature of doctorate degrees and forms of employer engagement. Empirically, the aim of this study is to understand the “learning experiences” and “strategies” of industrial doctorate students at EPSRC-funded Industrial Doctorate Centres (IDCs) while they conduct doctorate research within industrial contexts. The pilot survey conducted with 25 industrial doctorate students enrolled at EngD in Systems illustrates the institutional complexity of working within “hybrid spaces,” managing different expectations, and co-producing knowledge with industry and academic partners, as well as acting as “change agents” within organisations.