Stille revolutie in universiteiten

Nieuws | de redactie
27 oktober 2010 | Een stille revolutie heeft in drie jaar de universiteiten in Europa op een nieuw spoor gezet. Hun aantal dat specifieke promovendi-opleidingen is gaan inrichten verdubbelde ruim tot 65% van het geheel. Hoe dit succes verder uit te bouwen? De EUA komt met voorstellen.

EUA Secretary General, Lesley Wilson komt daarom met een setaanbevelingen aan het WO zelf en de regeringen in Europa. “Theserecommendations aim to make sure the momentum for doctoral reformwhich has been generated by the original Salzburg recommendations(published in 2005) continues to gather pace in the coming years.Europe is now emerging as a global leader in reforming doctoraleducation.

In the space of just three years there has been a ‘mini revolution’within European doctoral education: the number of universitiessetting up dedicated doctoral schools has more than doubled since2007 (from 29% to 65%).

This reform has been central to the development of both theEuropean Research Area and the European Higher Education Area inthe last years. Further doctoral reforms will be vital for thesustainable development of Europe and essential for the globalresearch community. We hope Salzburg II will be another keymilestone in the reform process”.

The EUA recommendations cement the basis of the doctorate as basedon the practice of an original research project and therebyunderline clearly that it is separate from the first (bachelor) andsecond (master) cycle. These are some of the key recommendationsfor universities: 

  • Institutions must develop a critical mass and diversity ofresearch to offer high quality doctoral education.
  • Doctoral education is increasingly managed by dedicatedstructures (within universities). These structures should bedeveloped in such a way to strengthen research environment and notsimply to create more taught courses for doctoral candidates
  • Those running structured doctoral programmes should developrecruitment strategies that correspond to their particular missionand profile
  • Supervision of doctoral candidates must be a ‘collectiveeffort’ with clearly defined and written responsibilities for themain supervisor, doctoral candidate, doctoral school, researchgroup etc. Providing professional development to supervisors is aninstitutional responsibility. Developing a common supervisionculture shared by supervisors, doctoral school leaders and doctoralcandidates must be a priority for doctoral schools
  • Career support for doctoral candidates must take into accountof their individual goals and motivations and acknowledge that awide range of careers for doctorate holders now exist. It is theuniversity responsibility to provide support structures forprofessional development. Offering training in transferable skills,including understanding the ethics of research, is central fortaking this responsibility, and should be a priority for doctoralschools and programmes
  • Universities should develop specific systems for qualityassurance in doctoral education based on the diverse institutionalmissions and, crucially, linked to the institutional researchstrategy. Assessment of the academic quality of doctoral educationshould be based on peer review and be sensitive to disciplinarydifferences
  • Internationalisation should be used as a tool by universitiesto enhance the quality in doctoral education and to developinstitutional research capacity. (eg collaborative doctoralprogrammes, international joint doctoral programmes or joint,integrated curricula, joint committees and juries, and the jointdegree). Mobility should be an integral part of a candidate’sresearch project
  • Credit systems are not a pre condition for successful doctoralprogrammes.

The ‘Salzburg II recommendations’also call on governments andfunding organisations, to remove a number of ‘obstacles’ to thefuture development of European doctoral education. They statethat:

  • Universities as well as doctoral candidates are stillunderfunded. High quality doctoral education requires adequate,sustainable and doctorate-specific funding opportunities
  • Institutions need autonomy to be able to establish and beaccountable for diverse structures with different researchstrategies and strengths
  • Institutions must be able to independently develop theirsystems for quality assurance and enhancement within their nationalframeworks
  • All stakeholders should engage in measures to facilitateco-operation with non-academic sectors for the mutual benefit ofall partners. It is essential to create awareness about thequalities of doctorate holders as well as building trust betweenuniversities and other sectors. Such trust is for example built onformalised but flexible research and research trainingcollaboration between industry and higher education institutions,including joint research projects, industrial doctorates or similarschemes.

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