What the doctorate has been and should become continues to be the subject of formal and informal debate in many countries and internationally. But the answers given vary according to the type of student different ‘stakeholders’ have in mind, and few work with a typology that includes all students. In the UK, for instance, the various research councils and funding councils follow the

government’s direction in seeing education as now primarily to do with national economic development. They are, therefore, mainly concerned with the ‘supply chain’ of qualified researchers and their employment-related skills, and particularly with science and engineering. The national policy focus is thus largely those whose studies are funded centrally: young, ‘home’ (UK domiciled), mainly full-time doctoral students. The councils present the thesis as an apprenticeship piece of work. The universities, on the other hand, are increasingly in competition with each other

and each wants to raise its status and research performance by enrolling the best students who will produce original work of publishable quality. They also seek to plug some of the gaps in their funding by enrolling fee-paying postgraduates. Most are therefore happy to accept not only research council or other funded candidates but also self-funding home students (likely to be part-time) and especially international students (likely to be fulltime). International students are particularly important in certain fields (economics, law, engineering and technology, business and management, social studies, mathematics and computing) where they comprise more than half of all full-time research students (Kemp et al. 2009: 1). They also add an interesting ‘global’ dimension to institutional life. In practice, a minority of higher education institutions (HEIs) dominate both the

home full-time and the international student market, with the numbers of research and masters students, subject areas of study and main countries of origin varying greatly from one university to another. Each vice-chancellor, therefore, has a somewhat different angle on which doctoral students matter most.1