EUA considers the issue of doctoral programmes of the utmost importance and was instrumental in their inclusion as the third cycle in the Bologna Process in 2003. This inclusion demonstrated how essential Europe's universities are to building the European knowledge society, thus linking the European Higher Education and Research Areas through their teaching and research activities.
Since then, EUA has concentrated on a series of activities targeted towards enhancing the universities' unique role in research training. EUA's goal is both to raise awareness of the crucial role universities play all across Europe in training young researchers and to assist institutions in the development of their research strategies and specifically in the organisation and structure of their doctoral programmes.
The "ten basic principles" developed during the 2005 Salzburg seminar, drawn partly upon the experience of the first Doctoral Programmes Project, are emphasised in the Bergen Communiqué which was adopted by European Education Ministers in May 2005 as key principles for further development of the "third cycle" of the Bologna Process. These principles have thus become an integral part of the Bologna Process and have recently been affirmed and expanded through the Salzburg II initiative.
In addition, EUA carried out a project entitled "From Innovative Doctoral Training to Enhanced Career Opportunities" (DOC-CAREERS) with a focus on doctoral projects and programmes in collaboration with external partners, mainly large industry, and the employability perspectives of doctorate holders in the non-academic sector. A follow-up project, DOC-CAREERS II, is now studying doctoral programmes in collaboration with a wider range of external partners. Both studies aim to underline the need to incorporate demands from a highly diversified labour market directly in the planning of doctoral programme structures; introduce case studies among employers to highlight such demands; and focus on mobility as an inter-sectoral as well as a cross-border activity.
In 2008, the EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) was founded as a membership service to assist members to develop doctoral education and create a strong voice for European universities on doctoral education both inside Europe and internationally. It contributes to enhancing the visibility of doctoral schools and programmes. EUA-CDE seeks to respond to growing demand from members for a more structured supporting framework and additional opportunities to promote cooperation and exchange of good practice on issues of common concern related to the organisation and quality of doctoral education in universities across Europe.
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