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Graduate School without Too Much Coursework

EUA Council for Doctoral Education: European Doctoral Programs Must Remain Focused on Research – Meeting on June 4/5, 2010 at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 117/2010 from Apr 30, 2010

The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) has invited players from across Europe to Berlin on June 4 and 5, 2010, to discuss experiences with the reform of doctoral education and future prospects.

The TRENDS 2010 study recently published by the European University Association (EUA) confirms that European doctoral education is undergoing a period of profound reforms. Five years ago graduate schools were rare in Europe, while today they have almost become the norm. About 50 percent of all European universities have already set up graduate schools for their doctoral education, and in 70 percent of them, seminars and lectures are an integral part of the program for doctoral students. For many critics the Bologna Process at the level of doctoral training means more teaching rather than research, with coursework instead of original contributions to science.

The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) cannot accept the opinion of the critics. The ten Salzburg principles embedded in the Bologna Process since 2005 emphasize that original research is the basis of doctoral training. “The structured education of doctoral students in graduate schools aims to involve the students in research settings, not to bog them down in coursework,” emphasizes Thomas Jorgensen, Head of Unit, EUA-CDE. “It is an alternative to the traditional type of doctorate carried out under a supervisor with no structured coursework. It enables universities to achieve their institutional accountability, with clear rights and responsibilities for supervisors and supervised, ensuring the quality of programs and the emergence of a critical mass within the research environment – everything with the clear objective of providing the best possible framework for research,” continues Jorgensen. In Germany, this process was particularly encouraged by the Excellence Initiative and DFG-funded Research Training Groups and in many cases serves as an inspiration for institutional reform.

Jorgensen stressed that after five years of comprehensive reforms in European doctoral training, it was time to confirm this principle. Through a consultation process over a period of several months, the EUA Council for Doctoral Education Reform compiled the experiences of its members, to obtain both a general impression of the current situation as well as prospects for the future.

To kick off the EUA-CDE Conference, on June 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., there will be a panel discussion in the Henry Ford Building of Freie Universität initiated by Dahlem Research School. The discussion topic is “The Future of the Doctorate.” It will be moderated by the Zeit editor Jan-Martin Wiarda. For further information and to register, please see: www.eua.be/events/third-eua-cde-annual-meeting/home/.

A limited number of seats are available for representatives of the media. Unfortunately, EEA cannot cover travel or accommodation expenses.

Further Information

To register for the conference, please contact: