Publish Date: 07.06.2018

Category: News from the University

From 6–8 June 2018, the University of Ljubljana hosted the 11th convention of the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) entitled “Excellence Through Diversity – Doctoral Education in a Globalised World”. This convention represented a unique opportunity to discuss doctoral education in Europe and around the world. The convention was also marked by the tenth anniversary of the EUA-CDE.  

For two days, more than 250 experts from 56 countries (Europe, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, China, and the USA) gathered at the annual convention. “PhD studies are becoming increasingly important as a domain where more and more researchers with extremely diverse ambitions, life and professional paths create their knowledge. I am glad that the University of Ljubljana is hosting an international discussion on PhD studies, since the development of the highest level of education, embedded within the research process, is one of the priorities of our university,” said the Head of the Doctoral School of the University of Ljubljana, Professor Dr Aleksandra Kanjuo Mrčela.

“The challenges of doctoral studies are more or less the same as the challenges faced by universities in general, and also by researchers. They focus on social responsibility in the sense of research integrity, innovation, practical application of research results, and cooperation with the environment. In my opinion, this is the direction of the third generation of doctoral education, and the one we are seeking to pursue,” said the Rector of the University of Rijeka, Professor Dr Snježana Prijić-Samaržija.

The Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr. Maja Makovec Brenčič, emphasised that in Slovenia we realise the importance of doctoral studies. “Slovenia is one of the rare European countries where co-funding doctoral studies is an integral part of the Law on Higher Education. This year, we allocated EUR 3.3 million to doctoral studies; in the next study year, we intend to allocate EUR 3.4 million to this purpose."

All participants unanimously agreed that doctoral studies are important for the development of society and economy. “Countries wish to increase the number of research studies, they wish for more development, and they need researchers in order to obtain it, which is why universities establish doctoral schools,” said the President of the Steering Committee of the EUA-CDE and the Provost of Research and Innovation of the University of Manchester, Dr. Luke Georgihou, adding that before the establishment of EUA-CDE, doctoral schools only existed in thirty per cent of universities; nowadays, they exist in more than ninety per cent of them.

"During all these years, universities have created different forms of doctoral studies that all strive to achieve excellence in the field of research," said the Head of EUA-CDE, Dr. Alexander Hasgall. Indeed, the diversity of doctoral studies was one of the subjects discussed during the convention taking place this year: the diversity of approaches to doctoral studies, the way globalisation contributes to diversity, how to guarantee (gender, socio-economical, etc.) diversity of the candidates. “At the same time, all universities are facing the same challenges when creating doctoral study programmes: financing, internationalisation, open science, open research,” underlined Dr. Hasgall.

The EUA-CDE also joined the regional platform for comparison and cooperation in the field of higher education and research. The idea for this platform was born in Dubrovnik in 2012 and saw the light of day in 2014. “The platform was created out of a need for cooperation in the Balkans. Instead of staying home, quality personnel were leaving to pursue doctoral education abroad,” said the first president of the Council of the Regional Platform for Comparison and Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education and Research, Professor Dr. Radovan Stanislav Pejovnik. A total of 11 universities from the territories of the Western Balkans are participating in the platform. “Our main goals are high-quality doctoral studies, and enabling doctoral candidates from the Western Balkans to spend a fixed amount of time in one of the countries where they can access all research-providing structures. Our goal is brain circulation, not brain drain,” Dr. Pejovnik went on to explain.

The University of Ljubljana has a long-standing tradition in the field of doctoral studies. Up until May 2018, 11,380 candidates have been awarded a PhD by the University of Ljubljana. “Next year, the University of Ljubljana will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of its functioning, and the year after that, the hundredth anniversary of the first PhD ever awarded,” underlined Professor Dr. Kanjuo Mrčela.