Establishing European doctoral networks and promoting doctoral candidates as an added value for knowledge transfer in the workplace are key elements in defining the profile of new doctoral programmes. The need to break away from isolated education, and to promote doctoral students as a differentiating factor for businesses were some of the conclusions of the first day of the CEICS forum.
The first session of the CEICS forum was dedicated to looking at changes in the reform of doctoral programmes. / Xavi Jurio
URV doctoral programme coordinators with international partners.
At the welcoming ceremony of the conference, Rector Francesc Xavier Grau reminded attendees that one of the key objectives of the CEICS is to attract talent and increase the percentage of students participating in postgraduate studies. Grau called for “the commitment of CEICS research communities, administrative bodies, and other specialised centres around the world to help ensure that the CEICS continues to be a knowledge hub on par with the world’s best research centres.
”The conference was held in the context of changing legislation with regard to doctoral programmes. Luis Delgado, deputy director of the University Modernisation and Internationalisation area of the Ministry of Education explained the new Spanish regulations for doctoral studies in detail. In this time of change, in which universities must define and adapt to the parameters of the new legislation, experts from the Netherlands, United States, France and Germany shared their experiences of adapting to the new European model, describing successful strategies that will provide food for thought in the creation of a new profile for CEICS doctoral schools.
Gab van Winkel, a researcher and consultant in doctoral education at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, presented the Dutch model which, with 3,200 doctoral students studying at the university per year, has generated 68% of the doctors employed in business and industry. A system that supports the right to work, employment seeking and employability which applies best practices for candidate selection is what has worked for the United States’ Council of Graduate Schools, presented by Daniel Denecke, director of the “Best Practices” programme.
Two approaches to PhD education used in Germany were also presented. One model was presented by Helmut Brentel of the Goethe Graduate Academy in Frankfurt. These programmes are very committed to ensuring excellence in research, supporting groundbreaking researchers, and creating a network of structures under an “umbrella” model. Reinhard Schomäcker, director of the Berlin International Graduate School of Natural Sciences and Engineering, presented the model of the new UniCat (Unifying Concepts in Catalysis) Doctoral School. This is a field-specific model dealing with catalysis. Of the first 12 students who recently obtained doctoral degrees in the programme, most of them received the summa cum laude honour and have been hired by major companies.
In France excellent results have been obtained with the Toulouse model which consists of a group of 15 doctoral schools. The programme was described by Michel Caffarel, director of the Material Sciences Doctoral School at Paul Sabatier University. Approximately 900 doctoral candidates participate in the programme annually.
During the session Lluís Jofre, director general of the Universities area of the Catalan Ministry of Economics and Knowledge, called for greater cooperation between universities and businesses to improve the current doctoral system.
Two research support programmes were also presented at the conference: the Marie Curie programme, which was presented by the programme’s European Commission coordinator, Vanessa-Debiais Sainton; and the other, the Erasmus Mundus programme, as an integrated model of university cooperation, which was presented by José Gutiérrez, deputy head of this unit of the Education Management Agency.
According to Francisco Díaz, deputy director of CEICS and head of the doctoral school reform project, “The only way forward is to work together and build Europe-wide doctoral networks.” Díaz said that the university would have to work and do research to attract the best junior researchers for doctoral schools.
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