14 percent in Utrecht

The Netherlands has a lot of PhD candidates with their ‘own’ funding

In the Netherlands, you can write a dissertation and get a PhD as an employee of the university. 51 percent of PhD candidates in the Netherlands are doing so, while others are under other types of contracts that include research time (4 percent). There are also the so-called "external" PhD candidates, who are writing their dissertations in their spare time or at their own expense. This group represents 16 percent of all PhD candidates in the country, according to new figures made public by Universities of the Netherlands (UNL).

Finally, there are PhD candidates funded by third parties, like those whose employer grants them a certain amount of time to conduct research or those who come to the Netherlands on a foreign grant.

NRC: “Unease and shame”
On Monday, the Dutch newspaper NRC published an extensive article about the types of PhD candidates working at Dutch universities. With the headline “Unease and shame over the rise of free PhD candidates,” the paper says that universities get a bonus from the government of 83,000 euros for each PhD awarded. The paper argues that this turns unpaid PhD candidates into a source of income.

The Dutch Minister of Education, Robbert Dijkgraaf, announced earlier this year that he is ending an experiment with Dutch PhD candidates with a grant. There is apparently too little support for it. But foreign PhD candidates with a grant — coming from China, for instance — can still come.

Urban geography professor Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam) is quoted by NRC as saying there is a division along racial lines. “Almost all PhD candidates from Europe or the USA have an employment contract, while PhD candidates from China, Indonesia or Chile come to the Netherlands with a grant of 1,350 euros per month.”

The newspaper also quotes the rector of Nijmegen University, Han van Krieken, who would like the 83,000 euro bonus for the completion of a doctorate to be abolished. He says that several other administrators think the same way.

The figures
The UNL figures show big differences between the universities. Groningen has a lot of PhD candidates with a grant because that university was almost the only one to participate fully in the experiment with PhD candidates. But there are five universities where employed PhD candidates are in the minority (see the table).

The small Open University has, relatively speaking, the largest number of external PhD candidates (232 out of 304) and Wageningen has the most PhD candidates with external funding. Leiden University is apparently unable to say where more than 1,000 of the 3,900 PhD candidates get their funding.

In Utrecht, 59 percent of PhD candidates are employed by the university, 14 percent have external funding and 12 percent are external PhD candidates. Furthermore, 7 percent are PhD with a scholarship and 6 percent are UU employees who are pursuing their PhDs on the side.

© HOP. Source: UNL


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