Being a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen, the conversation over the PhD Scholarship programme is a never ending topic.
Recently there has been a motion to improve transparency regarding the conditions for PhD Scholarship students and the improvements made for the second round (which also affects all PhD Scholarship students). Don't hesitate to give it a read and be up-to-date on what the new developments are.
After approval of the second application of the UG in the national PhD Scholarship Experiment in February of this year, the Dean of Graduate Studies (first Lou de Leij, since 1 March Petra Rudolf) discussed the implementation of the second round of the experiment (650 new positions to be filled as of 1 September this year) with the University Council, the Groningen Graduate Interest Network (GRIN) and PhD scholarship students involved in the Manifesto. Possible improvements on the conditions for the PhD scholarship students figured prominently in these discussions and it became clear that in several cases, PhD scholarship students were not completely aware of the rights they have. In other cases, the Dean found ways to make improvements within the narrow lines of law, rules and regulations that exist around the UG programme.
Obviously, the way the conditions were communicated, was not good enough. For this reason, the Dean made a new document with the list of conditions, rights and duties of PhD Scholarship students, in which also the adjusted conditions were included.
A major criticism was that prospective PhD (scholarship) students could not compare the
conditions of a position offered to them with those of other types of positions. Therefore, a list of all important conditions of all types of PhD students at the UG was made. Both documents were discussed and approved in the University Council meeting of 2 July and subsequently placed on the page of the UG website where also the old list of conditions could be found here (choose ‘Conditions and Application’). These differences will be discussed in informative meetings Graduate Schools organize for their (research) master students and prospective PhD students.
In all discussions, it became clear again and again that the communication around the
programme should be improved. This was also one of the major points of criticism in the annual midterm evaluation of the national experiment in 2019. This is why the Dean is now working on an improved and more user-friendly website for the PhD Scholarship Programme.
Most practical issues were solved, such as a computer on loan for the whole PhD project,
reimbursement of travel costs from home country, discounts for language courses, and help with obtaining unemployment benefits. All organizers of courses at the UG were informed that PhD scholarship students cannot be obliged to teach. On the other hand, possibilities were created for PhD scholarship students to follow courses for obtaining a University Teaching Qualification (in Dutch BKO) or a professional qualification as high-school teacher starting in 2021.
It does not stop here. The UG will continuously strive to facilitate all its PhD students in the most optimal way. Nevertheless, if there are comments – and we know there are – please speak up: to your supervisor, you institute, your Graduate School, your PhD counsellor, (anonymously) to a confidential advisor or to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Only if we know what goes wrong, we can further improve.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and have a nice day!
GSSE PhD Council