News 2013

Discussion Platform 'From PhD Candidate to Graduate Student'

Discussion Platform ‘From PhD Candidate to Graduate Student’

Did you miss the tête-à-tête discussion, that took place on 25th of September in the Faculty Club?

Several hot topics on the planned transition from a PhD employee to a graduate student were debated. PhDs, researchers and professors took part in the discussion. Attendees were both for and against the planned transition. Here is a summary of the meeting.

Gerard van der Steenhoven, dean of the School of Science and Technology (TNW) and Twente Graduate School (TGS) and Victor de Graaff, PhD candidate, representing the PhDs from UT, were the two discussants of the meeting. The main discussion points of the speakers were the following:

Gerard van der Steenhoven:
1. A doctorate obtained at the UT should be equivalent to that awarded by other international top universities.
2. It is more important to obtain a doctorate within four years than to publish your (n+1)th article.

           Victor de Graaff:
1. A PhD trajectory at the UT shall prepare PhD's for a career academia, not for a career in the industry.
2. The obligation to follow generic courses at the TGS will decrease the depth of the PhD theses.

Challenging questions that were debated:

Should it be required that PhD’s follow certain courses?

Steenhoven was in favor of PhDs following the TGS courses, saying that with the courses and the TGS certification, a PhD obtained in the Netherlands will have the same international recognition as one obtained in other countries like Germany or USA. He advocated that a good supervision plan, which also includes course requirements, can only benefit the PhD candidate and help him/her to become a good, independent researcher/professional.

De Graaff defended the current system, pointing out that taking extra courses specified by TGS will cause the candidate to lose time and will result in less specialization, as TGS only offers generic courses.

Should a minimum of 30 ECTS of coursework be mandatory for all PhDs?

Numerous comments from the audience were made on this topic. Some PhDs felt that following courses is a must to acquire the necessary knowledge in their field of research. Others raised concern about following a certain amount of obligatory courses that are not necessarily related to their PhD trajectory, such as courses on presentation skills, writing skills, etc.

Steenhoven responded by saying that most of the credit points will be obtained through coursework, summer schools and conferences that PhD candidates are already attending anyway, regardless of a new to-be-introduced credit system, and that the translation of these activities into ECTS will be determined by the advisor of the PhD.

What happens with the current PhD’s who are employed by the university? 

Steenhoven replied that currently employed PhD’s will continue to have the statute of employee, as stated in their contract.