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Dijkgraaf puts an end to PhD student

Dijkgraaf puts an end to PhD student

Do you want to get a PhD with a scholarship instead of a salary? After a long experience, Minister Djgraf draws a line through it. It will not include a PhD student in law.

Universities lobbied endlessly for a new type of doctoral student, who would not be an employee, but a student. The University of Groningen in particular was strongly in favor of this.

In 2016, a controversial experiment began with these doctoral students, in which Groningen was fully involved with 1,500 doctoral students. Furthermore, only Erasmus University Rotterdam joined with a total of fifteen PhD students.

The experiment is now over and Minister Djgraf draw conclusions: does not see any added value. He will not continue the experiment and therefore does not want to make the PhD student legally possible. It will stop from 2024.

fragile support

The minister explains that the doctoral students themselves have all kinds of objections to the experiment. He writes, “I see the support for doctoral education as very fragile.” This “has a lot of weight” in his decision.

“Doctoral Education” is meant to be a third course after Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Doctoral students abroad are often students, but in the Netherlands the vast majority work as employees.

According to the minister, the doctoral student system “does not fit my quest for more peace and space in the science system and a good standing for all researchers.”

He can count on a decisive final evaluation. She says that PhD students feel underappreciated. For example, they do not receive a pension and do not receive wages for vacation. The “students” feel more free to choose a PhD subject than the staff doctoral students, but in their day-to-day work they experience no difference in autonomy.

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two camps

Despite all the criticism, the University of Groningen is strongly in favor of the new system, especially to give more students the opportunity to obtain a Ph.D. According to the assessment, two “camps” have arisen and this situation cannot be viewed in isolation from the pros and cons of a PhD education.

Dijkgraaf wrote: “My ambition is to bring more peace, space and continuity to the scientific system and give talent more space.” “It is more appropriate to strive for uniformity and good preconditions regarding the legal status of all doctoral students.” He believes that doctoral education does not make a convincing contribution to this.

One of the goals of the experiment was to train “more PhD students”. But according to the minister, it could be done in another way, now that the government is investing in research. “In this way, a space for unrestricted research can be created, for talented researchers and new doctoral positions when necessary, and to foster interconnectedness between education and research.”