EUA Council for Doctoral Education

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EUA-CDE study examines doctoral education in Europe today

EUA-CDE presents a new report on the state of play of doctoral education in Europe. It is the result of an extensive and unique study offering findings gathered from more than 300 institutions across Europe. As EUA-CDE Chair Luke Georghiou points out, it provides an overview of the deep transformation that has taken place in doctoral education over the past ten years.

The decade since the foundation of the EUA-CDE has seen remarkable change in the scale and nature of doctoral education. The direction of travel was clearly signposted in 2005 by the formative Salzburg principles. These affirmed the core component of the doctorate as the advancement of knowledge, while recognising the need to prepare for widening employment opportunities beyond academia. 

The impetus of these principles has contributed to the many transformations we have witnessed over the years. However, until now, the scale of change had not been measured. On the occasion of the 2019 EUA-CDE Thematic Workshop taking place at VU Amsterdam this week, we are proud to present the new survey report, “Doctoral education in Europe today: approaches and institutional structures.”

The EUA-CDE Steering Committee launched the survey that is reported in this publication in order to examine the balance between institutional responsibility and that of the individual supervisor, as well as the mechanisms that underpin the passage through the doctorate and towards future careers. It also aimed to assess the degree of change, by asking if a doctorate today is really different from that of a decade or more ago. The institutional status of the doctoral candidate as a student, colleague, or both was another line of questioning, among many others.

More than 300 institutions responded to the survey, providing confidence in the findings, as well as indicating that institutions want to know where we stand on these and many other issues. We hope that it will give institutions the opportunity to benchmark their own practices and policies against their peer institutions, as well as potentially help in the dissemination of good practices. More broadly, we hope that the information will provide an improved platform from which to argue the case for doctoral education among the many pressing issues facing universities and their funders.

In sum, Europe now has a shared database that will enhance our understanding of doctoral education and that will help EUA-CDE to shape its agenda for the coming years.

“The Doctoral Debate” is an online platform featuring original articles with commentary and analysis on doctoral education in Europe. Articles focus on trending topics in doctoral education and state-of-the-art policies and practices. The Debate showcases voices and views from EUA-CDE members and partners.

All views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of EUA Council for Doctoral Education. If you would like to respond to this article by writing your own piece, please see The Doctoral Debate style guidelines and contact the CDE team to pitch your idea.

Luke Georghiou

Luke Georghiou is deputy president and deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester; chair of the European University Association’s Council for Doctoral Education and member of the EU Research Commissioner’s High-Level “Research, Innovation, and Science Policy Experts” group.

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