Documents 2008

Theme Lunch: International Demands on PhD Programs

Theme-Lunch: “International Demands on PhD Programs”

On Wednesday the 21st of February, the subject of the first lunch discussion was "International demands on PhD-programs". About 40 PhDs attended the meeting.

To enhance mobility, European governments agreed to equalize the levels in higher education, thus also in PhD programs. Also our university develops new PhD programs, such as a '3 year PhD' by 'descent of the PhD program in research master'. Next to mobility, an important incentive for these developments is the reduction of costs, e.g. paying PhDs by scholarship instead of employee-salary. For more information, please have a look at the website.

We invited Tom Mulder (Communication department) and Patrick Hoetink (Executive Board Office) to give an introduction to this subject. After that, there was a brainstorm session about the demands and qualifications of the PhD program, followed by a discussion about the possible new PhD programs. The results of the brainstorm session and the discussion are listed below.

Results brainstorm session

1. What are the demands on PhD-programs in different countries?

§Time; in some countries the PhD lasts longer (US, starts usually after bachelor), in other countries the PhD may be shorter than in the Netherlands.

§Education; there is a difference in the amount of time for taking courses and on teaching courses (sometimes this latter part is not included in the PhD).

§Evaluation differs, in some countries it is a real exam in other countries a formality.

§The PhD program may depend on the subject.

2. What qualifications (competences) should every PhD acquire?

§managing research projects

§knowledge on the research field

§applying knowledge

§write publications

Results discussion

1.PhD candidates should be considered as students instead of employees; education and end-terms will be taken seriously again!

§Students can more easily be fired than employees (advantage for the University).

§The education program can be formalized if PhDs are students (but education demands differ from PhD to PhD).

§PhD as employee is more attractive for candidates that consider doing a PhD.

2.There should be a different program for people aiming for a job in industry compared to the ones aiming for a scientific career.

§There can be an overlap between a job in industry and a scientific career.

§There is already a good program for a job in industry (MBA).

§The competences of the current PhD program are sufficient for jobs in industry (there should be a formal assessment of the competences).

3.A PhD completed in 3 years can be as good as one completed in 4 (or more...) years.

§it can be done in 3 years if the PhD position is prepared by the supervisors

§If 25% of the time is spent on teaching, then the PhD should be 4 years

§The 4th year can be used to ‘harvest’ from the research (write papers etc.).

§Experimental research projects may take more time than other PhD projects (so, it depends on the kind of research).


§It might be useful to have professors/staff present (eg. rector) at the lunch discussion.

§The room may be too small if more people are invited.

§ITBE organizes courses for PhDs. One course is tips and tricks for PhDs (especially for 1st and 2nd year PhDs) 14th of March this course will start again.