Fisheries Science, Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology are crucial to the Australian economy and society. Australian doctoral education in these fields assumes that students commence with well-developed relevant skills, or acquire them autodidactically or from their supervisors. We believe that such reliance on autodidactic approaches and supervisor direction are no longer adequate, and argue for compulsory coursework within doctoral programs.
Currently, most specialised education in quantitative methods, advanced genetic techniques (including population genetics) or human dimensions is provided in short courses or workshops, if at all. Short courses provide advanced technical knowledge (e.g., an advanced stock assessment workshop for fisheries scientists or population viability analysis workshops for conservation biologists), but they are voluntary. Multiple university and multiple discipline consortia could provide the compulsory postgraduate coursework needed for structured development of quantitative skills in Australian PhDs. Online education should be part of the solution, but it is not a panacea because some material should be taught in person for effective learning. Solutions can build on modified approaches used overseas and in other disciplines in Australia.