Thank you for sharing this page.

Doctoral Education: The Shape of Things to Come

The Shape of Things to Come is a policy initiative that engages European universities in identifying the major themes for doctoral education in the next decade. The policy initiative examines what is waiting just beyond the horizon, articulates the challenges that doctoral education is facing and identifies its potential for developing universities and society at large.
Doctoral education in Europe is entering a new phase after a decade of rapid and thorough reforms. Universities across the continent have expanded and professionalised doctoral education, establishing doctoral schools and management units in order to ensure the quality of the doctorate. EUA’s Salzburg Principles (2005) and Recommendations (2010) have facilitated this process as a basis for carrying out reforms, particularly setting up institutional structures and procedures to support doctoral education.

cde_kovacevicHowever, this reform period is coming to an end. Most universities have established structures for the management of doctoral education; there are procedures in place to ensure transparency, quality and efficiency. Professionalisation has led to deeper integration of doctoral education in the core missions of universities. This means that the major challenges that universities are facing in research, teaching and outreach have direct consequences for doctoral education. However, doctoral education also has the potential to enhance these missions and help in overcoming the challenges.

Moreover, the long-term challenges for Europe regarding demography, competitiveness and sustainability need to be solved by fully using the potential of Europe and its citizens; here doctoral education plays an important part in terms of helping to fulfil the potential of research and innovation.

Through the Council for Doctoral Education, EUA organises a series of consultations in the second half of 2014 and throughout 2015, which will result in a comprehensive policy paper in 2016, a paper to set the tone for the next decade. The policy paper will identify the main challenges for doctoral education, introduce ways to face these challenges, and present the potential of doctoral education to bring societies and universities forward. EUA-CDE invites its more than 200 members to take part in discussions about these topics. From November 2014 to June 2015, there will be three focus groups held dealing with special topics, and the standard EUA-CDE annual events will also form part of the consultations:


13 November 2014, Open science and open education, EUA offices, Brussels, Belgium

This one-day focus group looked at the new developments in research brought on by the trends concerning ‘Science 2.0’ such as big, open data, large teams and open access. Together with the appearance of MOOCs and other innovations in teaching, this could change the role of academics of the future. How will this affect doctoral education? What potential do these new developments have, and how should universities respond?

Please click here to download a presentation from the event.

22-23 January 2015, Regional engagement, EUA-CDE Annual Thematic Workshop, Aix-Marseille University, France

Universities have the potential to play a key part in developing their regions, and many of them already do. Universities ensure local employers have a pool of candidates with the right skills and make sure that knowledge is circulated between universities, private companies and the public sector.

Doctoral education combines these elements of human resources development and knowledge transfer. Doctorate holders sustain or further develop research capacity within universities as researchers, but also in a number of other positions outside academia. Moreover, the research carried out by doctoral candidates can often directly benefit regional development. They work in collaboration with local industries, they provide knowledge to regional authorities and they add to the research expertise and capacity of the region. This close connection between doctoral education and the regions has gained importance as EU structural funds have become directed towards projects in research and innovation. How do universities manage their regional role? What initiatives do they take, and how do they establish a continuous dialogue with their regional authorities?

Please click here to view the presentations from the event.

20 February 2015, Capacity building – developing research for doctoral education, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

Good research is a prerequisite for doctoral education, and good doctoral education is a prerequisite for developing research capacity. But how do universities build research capacity and develop doctoral education at the same time? At a time when funding is more concentrated in institutions that already have good research, how do we ensure that all regions have sufficient research capacity? This one-day working group looked at good practices in capacity building in terms of governance, funding and collaborations for capacity building.

Click here to view the presentation from the event.

20 March 2015, Ethics in doctoral education, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Ethics in research is important in its own right. However, as research becomes increasingly intertwined with the rest of society, universities and researchers are ever more accountable when it comes to issues such as medical experiments or protection of data– not to mention plagiarism. What standards should be set concerning ethics training in doctoral education, and how can universities ensure that these standards are upheld by their doctoral candidates? This one-day working group will explore the issue and present good practices.

18-19 June 2015, Common discussion: The Future of Doctoral Education – where do we go from here? EUA-CDE Annual Meeting, Technical University Munich, Germany

What lies ahead for European doctoral education? During the last 10-15 years, universities have been aligning doctoral education more and more with their institutional strategies, as well as establishing structures for professional management. Doctoral education has evolved from being centred almost exclusively on a supervisor-supervisee relationship to an activity for which institutions take far more responsibility.

The new challenges facing universities include digitalisation, open access, MOOCs, ethical dilemmas, competitive and performance-based funding and a greater need to demonstrate the impact of their research. With the discourse of the open economy, political stakeholders are giving more attention to research in general and to doctoral education in particular. The 8th Annual Meeting of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education will examine what these developments mean for the future of doctoral education. How should universities prepare their doctoral candidates to deal with issues concerning open access, research ethics and the societal impact of their work? And what role should doctoral education play in building research capacity?

Please click here to view the presentations from the event.


For further information about the initiative, please contact David Oliva Uribe (

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96