Idea reformy terciárního vzdělávání

Německé konference rektorů (HRK) a České konference rektorů (ČKR)

Opava, 24. 6. 2010

(Pouze v angličtine)


On the Future of the Doctorate in Europe

The Berlin Communiqué issued by the European education ministers in September 2003 calls for doctoral training to be integrated into the Bologna Process as the third cycle. In their communiqué, the ministers emphasized the significance of research and academic training and that of promoting interdisciplinarity as measures to preserve and improve the quality of higher education and to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe's universities. As a consequence, the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area will grow together. The doctorate will have a central role to play here.

In view of this background, the university associations of Germany (HRK) and of the Czech Republic (CRC) state the following joint positions:

The doctorate is the proprium of the university. Responsibility for its content and design is a matter of university autonomy. It provides opportunities for institutional profile building. The selective recruitment of suitable doctoral students combined with measures to promote research and young researchers will make it possible to initiate a 'continuing process of quality improvement'.

The degree certificate which holders of a doctorate degree receive serves as proof that they are qualified to engage in independent science and research. This involves delivering and acquiring scientific competence appropriate to the process of accelerating scientific progress and to the ever greater interaction taking place between science and research, on the one hand, and the public and society, on the other. The goal is to form a continuously effective capability with which quickly changing topics and ever more complex questions can be defined in a cross-disciplinary approach and can be addressed and solved by means of a relevant methodology. The doctoral dissertation - in its capacity as indispensable proof of independent research performance - remains the core element of the doctorate.

The doctorate serves as preparation for research-oriented posts in the labour market within and outside the university. The universities meet the diversity of requirements defined by this labour market when they design and structure the doctorate, thereby following on to the principle of already using the Master's phase to offer discipline-specific differentiation. In so doing, they consider the needs of the various segments of the labour market as well as special discipline-specific factors.

As far as the future development of the doctorate in the European higher education and research area concerned, the German and Czech university associations are of the opinion that the following aspects should serve as key guidelines, namely:

  • the development of structures which ensure the research-led formation of methodological, disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills and competences at a level extending beyond that of Master's programmes,
  • the delivery of independent research, presentation and publication skills and competences,
  • the delivery of key qualifications (the ability to analyze and to communicate, subject-specific experience abroad, independence and autonomy),
  • an appropriate limit on the time to doctorate (as a rule, three years),
  • intensive support respectively supervision for doctoral students,
  • use of curricular elements to complement the independent work.

The institutional structure and design of the doctorate must be set autonomously by the universities as part of their profile building activities. To ensure that universities are actively able to position themselves in competition with each other, nationally and internationally as well as in respect to the labour market, the associations recommend consideration of the following aspects:

  • providing doctoral students with supervision and support through a team of experienced scientists, possibly coming from several fields of knowledge ('multiple supervision' in the human resources and interdisciplinary sense),
  • carrying out joint intermediate assessments of how the training and dissertation are progressing (especially for doctoral students who have not been integrated by means of appropriate staff posts),
  • completing doctorates within a formalized framework (research training groups, graduate schools),
  • undertaking the competitive selection of domestic and foreign doctoral students on the basis of transparent criteria,
  • integrating profile-based, defined curricular sections as a means of delivering methodological, disciplinary and interdisciplinary skills, competences and key qualifications,
  • institutionally and thematically locating the doctorate so as to open up new research fields and with a view to promoting the interdisciplinary competence of doctoral students,
  • specifically promoting disciplinary and methodological exchange between doctoral students from related disciplines,
  • creating more time-limited qualification posts for doctoral students.

Other Topics

Results of the Joint Meeting of the German Rectors Conference (HRK) Presidium and the Czech Rectors Conference (CRC) Presidium (Prague, 4-5 November 2004) discussions.


Prof. Dr. Peter Gaehtgens, HRK President

Prof. Dr. Ivan Wilhelm, CRC President

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