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Netherlands: Freeing the PhD

Image: Vitold Murativ [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A radical experiment with doctoral students is underway at the University of Groningen. Erik te Roller asks whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Unlike many countries, which treat PhD candidates as students, the Netherlands has traditionally seen them as university employees, for good or ill.

But in 2016, the Dutch research ministry started a six-year experiment to simplify its PhD system and cre- ate more doctoral graduates, aiming to learn lessons from the Anglo-American system. Two years into the experiment, proponents and opponents are waiting for a government evaluation to see if it will be judged a success or a failure so far.

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