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The Nordic PhD

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy and Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding is an edited book written for prospective and current doctoral students by a mix of doctoral students and those who have recently completed their doctorates. The premise is simple: if you could go back in time and talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give? Isn’t hindsight a bonus? If only I knew then what I know now!

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding follows editions focused on study in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., U.S., and South Africa. What sets The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding apart from many others on the market is its down-to-earth and practical approach. Furthermore, its originality also lies in the fact that it is grounded in the context of doctoral studies in the Nordic countries.

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Chapter Sixteen: No Tuition at All?: Opportunities for the International Student (Julie A. Niziurski / Judy Bruce / Sharon Stein / Christopher McMaster)


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No Tuition at All?

Opportunities for the International Student



When I (Chris) first heard that doctoral study in Nordic countries (including Finland and Iceland) was tuition-free, I was suitably impressed. As the Scandinavians have a reputation for social awareness and welfare, including education, I wasn’t surprised. But when I heard that tuition-free doctoral study also included international students, I definitely wanted to learn more.

Cost is a very real inhibitor to postgraduate study. The Atlantic refers to debt as the ‘dirty little secret’ of doctoral programs in the United States. Estimates are that, when finishing with the coveted doctoral degree, students will have on average a hefty $30,000 debt (Weissmann, 2014). More often than not, that debt is compounded with already existing student loans. The Financial Times reports that students in the UK leave university with even more debt than their American counterparts (Vi▫a, 2016). Budget changes in Australia could mean that a doctoral degree there will cost up to $30,000 (Bexley, 2014). It is a similar story throughout the English-speaking world.

The bottom line is that a PhD can cost a good deal of money. Not only is cost a potential factor in dissuading enrolment in a doctoral program, it can also play a part in the high attrition rate seen in doctoral programmes....

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