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Doctoral divide

A polarising experiment with PhD students in the Netherlands has unexpectedly been given the go-ahead to continue by research minister Ingrid van Engelshoven. Merel Postma explores the praise and criticism surrounding the experiment.

Among minister Van Engelshoven’s final announcements before the summer break was one that will cause many academics to rest uneasy in the sun. A controversial experiment, under which universities treat PhD candidates as students rather than as university employees, is to be continued.

To understand why this is controversial, it is important to know that, traditionally, PhD candidates are hired by the university. This gives them a certain level of security but also comes with a barrage of teaching and administration duties that can interfere with their research.

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