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EUA Doctoral Week looks at internationalisation, funding and quality of doctoral education


October 04, 2012

More than 260 participants from 51 countries gathered last week (23-27 September 2012) for EUA Doctoral Week at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. During three connected events, Doctoral Week examined three major EUA policy areas through the perspective of doctoral education: internationalisation, funding and quality management.

The first event was the concluding workshop of the CODOC project that has been looking at trends in doctoral education in Latin America, Southern Africa, East Asia and Europe. The second, the EUA Council for Doctoral Education’s (EUA-CDE) Annual Meeting, focused on the issue of funding. The last event was part of the Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education (ARDE) project on how to manage quality in doctoral education.

At the CODOC workshop, the main conclusions of the final report of the project (published during the event) were outlined, mainly describing the convergences in doctoral education that the project has identified between the regions.

All regions have experienced an impressive growth in doctoral education with graduations growing 100% in many countries over the last decade. This growth is remarkably uniform across the regions. It has been driven by an increasingly common language surrounding the role of knowledge in society and the need for human resources with research training to meet local and global challenges. The need to increase capacity in doctoral education has in turn driven a common interest for global collaborations with an explicit aim to build research capacity.

Speakers from a range of countries including the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa and the Netherlands gave examples of how these issues influenced agendas for doctoral education.

The EUA-CDE Annual Meeting – the 5th since the Council’s foundation in 2008 – opened a discussion on the funding of doctoral education. It covered a wide range of topics, ranging from cross-border funding to the full costing of doctoral education, and the use of Structural Funds. The meeting also promoted dialogue between stakeholders at the European level and included representatives from European Commission funding schemes.

Discussions confirmed the large investments that European universities have been undertaking to improve doctoral education and its management, whilst highlighting the challenges they face in relation to maintaining sustainable funding that enables durable change.

The meeting also included extensive dialogue on university-industry collaborations with discussion on funding-related aspects as well as a session dedicated to the EUA DOC-CAREERS II project.

The final day of Doctoral Week was dedicated to the issue of quality management in doctoral education, building on the outcomes of the ARDE project, which has gathered evidence on this topic since its launch in 2010. Themes such as indicators, supervision, career support and evaluations were discussed intensively among the participants as well as with representatives from the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), national funding councils, research assessments and doctoral candidates.

The discussions revealed that universities – albeit on different levels – are implementing quality management systems, but at the same time are subject to very different and often uncoordinated evaluations by external funders, research evaluations and national quality assurance agencies.

The presentations from EUA Doctoral Week are available here.

The CODOC report: ‘Cooperation on doctoral education between Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe’ can be downloaded here. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus Mundus Programme of the European Commission; the ARDE project is supported by funding from the Lifelong Learning Programme.

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman