‘All PhDs should be considered one community’

| Michaela Nesvarova

The University Council (UC) is concerned about PhD candidates who are not employed by the UT. During today’s meeting in Horst, the Council advised the Executive Board to clearly define the status and the rights of these ‘scholarship-PhD’s’. ‘We want to provide proper support mechanism and treat them equally.’

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

The UC raised a number of issues regarding the status of scholarship PhD’s, meaning doctoral candidates who are not employed by the university. In their written advice to the Board, they suggested to define whether these PhD candidates are considered to have a student-status and what type of support structures they are entitled to. ‘As UC we consider it important to ensure that this type of PhD students don’t ‘fall between the cracks’.’

Guest PhDs 

‘The issue was triggered by the voting process and whether scholarship PhDs are considered staff or students,’ stated UC member Emile Dopheide today. ‘This led to a question of how these PhDs are dealt with. Based on that, we noticed that they are portrayed in a different way. In the UT telephone directory – the people pages – they are displayed as ‘Guest PhD candidate’. This is automatically taken over from the HR systems. However, this might be contradictory to how they fit into the community. If they go through a full PhD process here, we consider a label as ‘guest’ inappropriate.’ 

The Council would like all PhD candidates to be displayed and treated as one group, added Dopheide. ‘PhDs consider themselves one community. We want to provide proper support mechanism and treat them all equally. We’d like to offer support and information to scholarship-PhD students in case they incur serious study delay due to student activism or force majeur. We think PhDs should be considered one community.’

Inclusive approach

Vinod Subramaniam, the president of the Executive Board, responded to this: ‘This is a fundamental question of having an inclusive approach to all our PhD candidates. We recognize and appreciate that it makes sense to have a coherent approach to this issue. We will ask the Twente Graduate School and HR how to deal with this and make sure that we realize this in a coherent fashion across all faculties.’ 

‘PhDs are one community, there is no doubt about that, but there are some legal issues we need to take into account. In that sense they are not equal, whether we like it or not,’ added Rector Tom Veldkamp. Dopheide acknowledged this challenge: ‘We understand this dilemma and we don’t expect the answer right away. We look for a plan on how to eventually achieve it.’

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