Why your scholarships for PhD students are mission critical for New Zealand

03 April 2013
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Manuel Jose Oyson, PhD student

Key doctoral research may not be undertaken if it wasn’t for critical scholarships offered by donors throughout New Zealand, says a successful MSA Charitable Trust PhD scholarship recipient.

Manuel Jose Oyson, a 46-year-old PhD student specialising in Entrepreneurship and International Business at the Business School, says scholarships enable doctoral research which contributes to the advancement and development of critical competencies and capabilities in different industries and sectors.

The father of five originally from the Philippines, says scholarship donors also facilitate the emergence of doctoral researchers and new academics who in turn, shape and contribute to the development of students who provide the backbone of an able, well-educated national workforce.

Scholarships can also offer answers to questions on key phenomena, Manuel says.

“A good example of that is international business engagement of New Zealand firms – the subject of my research – which has the potential to provide guidance to New Zealand businesses on how to effectively enter and engage with international markets,” he says.

Manuel, whose entire extended family have undertaken university study, won the MSA Charitable Trust PhD Scholarship two years ago which provided an annual stipend of $25,000 for a period of three years.

He says getting the scholarship was highly competitive, with more than 50 PhD students chasing it. Based on potential academic merit, an assessment of the research topic and its potential impact on New Zealand business and its development, the scholarship also takes into account the applicant’s leadership potential, past study and life experience.

“The stipend of $25,000 was most valuable to me,” he says, “because without it, finances would have been a major issue. My family would not have been able to live solely on the salary of my wife, who works as an occupational therapist at Middlemore Hospital.

“Hence, I may have had to look for work outside the University, leading to potential delays and difficulties in finishing my PhD on time.”

Manuel, who has a daughter currently studying at The University of Auckland, says showing the effort he has put into his PhD to his immediate family has illustrated to them the value of persistence and hard work.

“I wanted to do a PhD at the leading university in New Zealand, so obviously Auckland was my first choice. The University is located in Auckland, one of the world’s best cities and I was fortunate to come across a top researcher in international business and entrepreneurship, Professor Hugh Whittaker, who is my supervisor.”

The MSA Charitable Trust PhD Scholarship was established in 2009 by the MSA Charitable Trust in order to fund postgraduate students admitted into the PhD programme who have the potential to impact on New Zealand business and/or business development in a globalising world.