EUA : European University Association

2nd EUA-CDE Annual meeting: Consolidating Reforms in Doctoral Education in Europe (4-5 June)

The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) held its second annual meeting at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland from 4-5 June.

It was announced that the CDE membership had now reached a total of 150 institutions since its launch a year ago. CDE Steering Committee Chairman Jean Chambaz (University Pierre and Marie Curie) saw this as a clear demonstration of the need and importance of such a forum for the exchange of good practice, mutual learning and cooperation in advancing doctoral education in Europe. More than 200 participants attended the event – mainly Vice-Rectors, Heads of Doctoral programmes and others directly involved with the daily running of doctoral programmes as well as other stakeholders – to discuss the future development of European doctoral education and implementation of reforms.

The focus of the conference was on six intensive parallel working group sessions addressing key components of doctoral education which established the future priorities for CDE members working together in further activities:  supervision in structured programmes; research career development; internationalisation; research assessment and doctoral education; data collection on doctoral programmes; the role of networks and clusters of universities in doctoral education.

Plenary sessions tackled European doctoral education in the global context with presentations by Alexandre Quintanilha (University of Porto, Portugal) and Barbara Evans (University of Columbia, Canada) which generated a substantial debate on mobility of doctoral candidates and international cooperation within doctoral programmes. Stakeholder perspectives were provided in a plenary session where John Wood (Imperial College London/Chairman of the European Research Area Board, ERAB) challenged university doctoral programmes to consider the implications of the European Research Area policy goals, and Gonzalo Hennequet (Research and Advanced Engineering Division, Renault, France) who highlighted his company’s commitment to university-industry collaboration in doctoral programmes through the CIFRE programme in France and the opportunities that it provided for doctoral candidates and university and industry partners.

The CDE event also provided the occasion for a special session at which Lidia Borrell-Damian (EUA) presented results of a new EUA study which has explored the relations between doctoral programmes and the career development and employability prospects for doctoral candidates – the EUA DOC-CAREERS project (see article below).

Session presentations and outcomes will be available on this page. Find out more about the EUA-CDE.

EUA report underlines growing importance of collaborative doctoral programmes between universities and industry

A new EUA report presented at the recent meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education underlines that collaborative doctoral (PhD) programmes, established between universities and industry, are becoming increasingly important across Europe.

The new study “Collaborative Doctoral Education: University-Industry Partnerships for Enhancing Knowledge Exchange” is based on a major two-year project (DOC-CAREERS) funded by the European Commission, which involved 33 universities, 31 companies, and 18 other stakeholder organisations, from 20 different countries across Europe. It highlights that both universities and business consider collaborative doctoral programmes as important channels for supporting both innovation and recruitment efforts.

From the industry perspective, these programmes are particularly valued as they provide companies with access to a highly-skilled workforce and cutting-edge academic research.  At the same time, they enable universities to establish long-term sustainable collaborations with business, and help build awareness of the added-value that university research can bring to industry and society at large.

Universities highlighted that such programmes should also help to improve recognition of the PhD qualification and ultimately increase the number of doctoral candidates enrolling in these degrees. Collaborative doctoral programmes also give doctoral students crucial exposure to non-university environments, and are seen as an excellent way to improve young researchers’ ability to relate abstract thinking to practical applications.

EUA’s new study also outlines industry expectations of PhD holders, and the necessary preconditions for setting up successful collaborative programmes. Amongst the recommendations, the report encourages universities to establish sound institutional tracking of the professional paths of their graduates, and to make sure doctoral students are well informed about all career opportunities. It also highlights that the committed support of governments to such programmes will be essential in developing university-industry collaboration in doctoral education, in particular for developing relations with small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which do not have the same resources to manage collaborations as larger R+D focussed companies.

A full version of the report can be downloaded here.

Brussels update: Commission launches feasibility study to develop a multi-dimensional university ranking

The European Commission has now selected the organisation(s) that will carry out a feasibility study on the design and testing of a new multi-dimensional global university ranking.

The study will be carried out by the CHERPA-Network consortium, led by the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies of Twente University (NL) and the Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung (DE). The other partners are the Centre for Science and Technology Studies of Leiden University (NL), the Research Division INCENTIM of Leuven University (BE), the Observatoire des Sciences et des Techniques Paris (FR), the European Federation of National Engineering Associations and the European Foundation for Management Development. The Commission noted the project should take 2 years and will cost approximately €1.1million.

EUA will be following the development of this feasibility study closely for its members – and would like to underline it has set up a Rankings working group to develop a clear road map for the association and its response to the growing number of policy initiatives in this area.

The group which met for the first time last month has been asked to report back with recommendations at the October 2009 Council meeting.

Around Europe: German Government pledges 18 billion Euros to higher education and research

The Federal Government and Länder in Germany have adopted an investment programme for higher education and research.

Across three packages, the programme is aimed at providing support for higher education and scientific organisations and also includes a new excellence competition. The public authorities have pledged to invest 18 billion Euros in higher education and research in the period up to 2015. This major new investment is due to cover an increase in the number of higher education students (275,000 new students on the basis of €26,000 per new student)  and a series of initiatives to strengthen research and innovation (including the next stage of the German Excellence Initiative) in German higher education institutions and non-university research institutions.

President of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) and EUA Board Member, Margret Wintermantel welcomed the moves: “At a time when higher education is shaped by the challenges of globalisation, demographic change, and the need to develop the knowledge economy, this major investment in education and research is certainly a step in the right direction.” Professor Wintermantel said she hopes that this decision will highlight to other governments in Europe, as underlined in EUA’s Prague Declaration, the need to invest in higher education and research during this period of economic downturn.

EUA welcomes suggestions of interesting national higher education stories from its collective and individual members for its ‘around Europe’ column. If you have any suggestions or further questions, please contact EUA reserves the right to refuse or edit the submitted news items.

Brussels update: EU Council adopts conclusions on European Research Area (ERA) Vision 2020

The Council of the European Union has adopted conclusions on the first steps of the Ljubljana Process towards the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) Vision 2020.

The 2020 Vision, that was officially adopted in December last year, is designed to provide the basis for the future development and governance of the ERA. In the Council conclusions on progress towards realising the ERA, it recognises the influence that R + D targets and indicators can have as part of the Lisbon strategy and their influence on stimulating policy reforms and on increasing public investment. Member states are invited to examine options for setting targets and strategies for monitoring progress towards the realisation of the ERA.

The EU Council also highlights the need at national and European level to improve researchers’ careers to make Europe more attractive to the ‘world’s best brains’, and calls for a more coordinated approach to related social, research, and education policies at the European level.

Please click here to read the full Council Conclusions and the status report on the ERA for the EU Presidency.

Registrations soon open for EUA Autumn Conference, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany (8-10 October 2009)

EUA is pleased to announce that registration will soon open for its Autumn Conference that will take place at the Justus Liebig University (JLU) Giessen in Germany from 8-10 October 2009.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Internationalisation beyond Europe’s frontiers: enhancing attractiveness through global partnership and cooperation’.

More detailed information on the conference programme, including plenaries and working groups are available from the conference website which is now online. Further information will soon be published through the EUA website and newsletter.