The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) recently organised its Second Global Strategic Forum on Doctoral Education which brought together approximately 30 invited senior university representatives from some of the most prominent research universities on each of the world’s continents.
Hosted by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in Ireland from 20-22 March 2013, the meeting enabled participants to discuss the emerging global system of doctoral education with research-intensive universities increasingly operating at a global level.
The forum also highlighted a number of common developments in relation to doctoral education. On all continents, the number of doctoral graduations has risen sharply in recent years in order to meet the demands of expanding higher education sectors, capacity-building efforts in universities and increasingly knowledge-dependent private and public sectors. In addition, universities are becoming more globally oriented. Research-intensive institutions, in some countries are building networks of alliances, joint programmes and branch campuses, increasingly detaching themselves from national systems and priorities and engaging in a global competition for talent and resources.
The outcomes of the meeting, published in the form of a statement, on the EUA website, highlight that current developments present great potential benefits in terms of expanding the frontiers of knowledge but also pose certain risks. For example, if research capacity is to be concentrated in a relatively small number of research-intensive universities, this could lead to “diminishing the concept of the global research community to a small number of universities, clustered in a limited number of regions, instead of a thriving, expansive and innovative community focused on a global horizon”. This situation would pose a risk for regions which find themselves excluded from these research clusters, and it would also be harmful to the development of a global talent pool.
In order to address these challenges and risks, the participants of the EUA-CDE Second Global Strategic Forum on Doctoral Education agreed that the following principles should underpin the work of the global research community:
1) A high quality of research is the key to a thriving global research community and essential for doctoral education. Universities must ensure that they are developing their research capacity through investments in their own capabilities, infrastructure, collaborations and pooling of capacity in order to attain the critical mass of research necessary for providing doctoral education.
2) Research will only be truly global if inclusion and access are considered priorities. Universities should engage in a wide range of collaborations with different partners in an effort to ensure the broadest possible participation of doctoral candidates from institutions in different parts of the world.
3) In order to ensure research quality, inclusion and access, universities must engage in collaborations for common development concerned with both global and local needs. Such collaborations should consist of and include a strong engagement from all partners, including institutional leadership in the individual institutions and local end-users of research results.
4) Collaborations require a common understanding of fundamental principles such as research ethics, quality in the provision of research training and good institutional governance. Such collaborations would be greatly facilitated by common practices and coordination by stakeholders concerned with the quality and funding of doctoral education.
The statement and the programme of the Global Forum can be downloaded here.
photo: © Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)