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European University Association seeks to steer doctoral education


Candidates should interact with society, get enough funding, and discuss academic freedom, EUA says

The European University Association has set out a vision for doctoral education in the coming decade, saying that the “world has changed” due to the pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, and that doctoral education should reflect this.

Published on 22 June, the EUA vision says that doctoral candidates should have regular exchanges with society to ensure the relevance of their work and development, and calls on universities to help candidates maintain contacts with societal actors.

The vision also stresses that doctoral candidates should “be appropriately rewarded” and that the level of living support they get should take into account the incomes of early career knowledge workers in other sectors—but it says an increase in salary should not come at the expense of the availability of doctorate positions.

Universities should ensure that access to doctoral education is based on talent rather than resources, while being “mindful of existing inequalities and situations”, according to the vision. It says that flexible working hours, support networks and mentoring will help achieve this.

Among other recommendations, the vision says doctoral education should include discussions of academic freedom, and that doctoral schools “should provide contact points where early-career researchers can turn for advice” on the issue.

In keeping with ongoing initiatives to reform research assessment, it adds that doctoral candidates should be prepared for a world in which assessment is “not uniquely focused on quantitative, publication-based indicators such as the journal impact factor”.