This month, the University of Groningen will make a start on recruiting the first batch of scholarship PhD students. The Ministry of Education has approved the University’s plans to award 850 talented students a scholarship to study for a PhD in a subject of their choice during the next few years.
The University of Groningen is pleased that the Minister of Education is supporting this particular plan for facilitating PhD students. Groningen will be the first university in the Netherlands to implement the strategy on a large scale. The plan enjoys wide support within the University of Groningen, with all its faculties ready and waiting.
The University hopes that this plan will enable more students to study for a PhD. In relation to the rest of the EU, the Netherlands has fairly average figures for PhDs. This is not good for the Dutch knowledge economy. The new scholarship system will also serve as an incentive for cutting edge research at the University of Groningen. In addition to research, scholarship PhD students will take courses to give them a better chance of finding a job and improve their career prospects.
Currently, most PhD students spend four years as employees of the University. A scholarship works differently – students receive a generous grant of € 1,700 per month.
But this is not the only difference: at the moment, PhD students apply to work on a particular ongoing research project. Under the new system, PhD students will be able to satisfy their academic curiosity by writing their own project proposal (under supervision).
‘If this experiment is a success – and I’m sure it will be – it will mean that scholarship PhD students will finally be given legal status. This will not only apply to the PhD students that we fund, but also to the growing group of PhD students on foreign scholarships. This is why we are right behind the plan’, says Sibrand Poppema, President of the Board of the University of Groningen.
Research Master’s programme
The University will try to recruit the first candidates from among its own graduates. The most suitable students are those taking a Research Master’s degree programme. ‘Nothing tops Groningen is the motto for students wanting to take a Research Master’s programme, because they have a good chance of going on to do a PhD’, explain Lou de Leij and Marjan Koopmans, the designers of the new plan.
International PhD students
But other national and international students are obviously also welcome. GRIN, the organization that represents the interests of PhD students in Groningen, is optimistic about the plans. ‘It’s a great opportunity for international students to do a PhD in Groningen, which is not only good for them, but will also raise the international profile of the University of Groningen’, according to the Chair Andrea Soto.