How Phd Students are doing in The Netherlands


I am triggered to write this post following a report by the Erasmus University Rotterdam & Utrecht University (in English) that focuses on the labour market for graduated PhD students in The Netherlands. Some of the outcomes:

  • Phd-Candidates are wanted on the Dutch job market: 86% has a job when defending her/his dissertation.
  • The majority (66%) works as a researcher. However half of them only has a temporary position.
  • One-third of all candidates is not Dutch
  • An observation relating to the balance between the so-called ‘brain drain’ and ‘brain gain': There are more foreign Phd candidates than the number of Dutch candidates that leave the country.

The information was gathered by the following method: At the University of Utrecht, Rotterdam, Delft and Wageningen all candidates were asked to fill in a questionnaire when they were up for the final confrontation (defending the dissertation). In total 565 people participated and indeed answered the questions.

For a broader look into the Dutch Phd arena, it is well worth the effort to read this long text of the PhD candidates Network of the Netherlands (Promovendi Netwerk Nederland, PNN). It goes into several problems relating to the Dutch PhD world, such the high percentage of candidates that fails to complete the dissertation (30 to 40% quit all together – this is an issue I can certainly relate to). Another problem area PNN addresses is career opportunities for PhD candidates, both insides and outside academia.

“Research within the PhD population shows that about 70% of PhD candidates would prefer to continue working in academia after the completion of their PhD. Obtaining a PhD is considered to be a first step in an academic career. However, only 20% of all PhD candidates eventually find a position in academia, while further 10% find a job in other research-related areas outside the university.” And: “PNN urges all Dutch universities, as well as their employees who supervise PhD candidates, to develop an extensive program that will offer PhD candidates an opportunity to train themselves, for instance, in management skills. Dutch companies and governmental organizations often consider it difficult to assess the added-value of workers with a PhD – in comparison to younger workers with a Master degree.

I wonder how PNN will react to the news that the majority of the PhD students has a job at their graduation.

Key Sources for more information:

Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU)

The National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System (NARCIS) provides access to scientific information consisting of (open access) publications from the many different repositories as well as descriptions of research projects, institutes and researchers.

The wikipedia page associated with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, KNAW).

The Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences supports researchers in the humanities and social sciences in the Netherlands in the creation of new scholarly practices and in their reflection on e-research in relation to their fields.

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One thought on “How Phd Students are doing in The Netherlands

  1. PS: This survey of UK PhD holders shows that their skills do transfer to employment, and many graduates aren’t bound for academia.

    http://www.nature.com/naturejobs/2010/100930/full/nj7315-623a.html

    Two things:
    1. 39.7% of the respondents were in biological and biomedical sciences, and 33% in physical sciences and engineering. What would have been the score when it included (more) social sciences and Arts graduates??
    2. A 2002 review of UK higher education by physicist Gareth Roberts recommended that the government should fund training for PhD students in transferable skills such as forming teams, managing people and communicating effectively. But that ‘Roberts money’ will run out at the end of March 2011. In other words….

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