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Pre-PhD

In Holland the average duration of undergraduate study is between 4 and 6 years depending on the subject. The first period of study stresses the acquisition of theoretical knowledge, whereas the last year focuses on gaining practical experience by doing a limited research project or internship. There are ~190,000 undergraduate students (47% women) 1 and all titles awarded (Drs, Ir., Mr) are equivalent to a master's degree (e.g. MA, MSc). At present the equivalent of the bachelor's degree does exist in the Netherlands but is only awarded by separate institutes (called 'Hogeschool') that focus their education on practical subjects (at technician level).

However, in the near future, the Anglo-American model will replace the traditional Dutch system to provide a more internationally recognisable system. Students will be awarded a bachelor's title after 3 years, and a master's degree after two additional years.

Undergraduates receive some governmental support (f 147, or 66.71 Euro/month for those living at their parents, f 453, or 202.56 Euro/month for those living externally), but the majority of financial support is provided by their parents. Students can also take out a loan or may work part-time to support their study. Most students start at the age of 18 or 19 and finish at 22 or 24. Thirty percent of graduates have international experience 2. Of these many receive additional scholarships from European resources (mobility program) or private means. 1

PhD

In 1998 only 7% of the students with a master's degree continued into PhD study and numbers are declining still further (see table 1). Those studying for PhDs in the Netherlands aren't, as in some other countries, considered to be students. They are university employees and receive a small salary and health insurance. At the moment the University of Amsterdam makes the only exception to this system: Some of their PhD students are so called 'bursars' and receive only a grant.

The universities, the Netherlands Scientific Organisation (NWO), or Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), as well as some other bodies (industry, charities) provide funding. Salaries are listed in table 2. The majority of PhD students are called AIO and are funded by the universities or KNAW. The only difference with the NWO-supported OIO is that OIOs don't teach undergraduates, but the OIO system is being discontinued. In general, students apply to the future supervisor directly, rather than applying to the university or funding bodies.

A maximum of 25% of an AIO's time may be used for teaching duties; the rest is for research and education. Dutch PhD students are expected to take courses alongside their research but there are no official guidelines on time to be spent on these, relative to research. Courses may cover very general topics (i.e., management, English, or statistics) or be very specialised courses in the field of research. However, what courses are available depend on the research school or department to which the PhD student is attached. For each PhD there should be an individualised education plan.

In theory PhD study takes 4 years, and funding is provided for this period, but only 12% finish their thesis within this term. Trends are given in Figure 1.

Because of the increasing difficulty in finding PhD students, foreign PhD students are hired. At the moment between 20% to 37% of the PhD students comes from abroad (mostly Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia) 3.

Drop out Rates

About 75% to 80% of the PhD students will eventually finish their dissertation. Figures are given in Table 3. Most PhD students (57%) and Postdocs (85%) want to continue their careers in university research. But opportunities are limited. There are sufficient postdoc positions available, but there is no promise of anything more stable than a contract job in the future of Dutch science. At the moment there are about 2000 postdocs, of which 40% have had more than one postdoc appointment. 12% have held three or more postdoc contracts. 3

Table 1. Number of students beginning PhDs per year 4

year

AIO (male)

AIO (female)

OIO (male)

OIO (female)

TOTAL

1986

225

77

93

6

401

1987

842

336

64

4

1246

1988

929

340

114

18

1401

1989

860

380

303

83

1626

1990

904

411

324

95

1734

1991

1018

425

323

121

1887

1992

1023

483

354

152

2012

1993

925

511

367

153

1956

1994

822

470

352

161

1805

1995

728

451

305

133

1617

1996

838

506

348

126

1818

1997

861

562

313

57

1793

1998

918

691

244

141

1994

Figure 1. Time needed to finish a PhD thesis per subject area 4


AGR. = AGRICULTURE; NATURE = NATURE STUDIES; TECHN = TECHNICAL STUDIES; HEALTH = HEALTH STUDIES; ECON = ECONOMICAL STUDIES; LAW = LAW STUDIES; H&S = HISTORY & SOCIETY; L&C = LANGUAGE & CULTURAL STUDIES


Table 3. Number of PhD students started, finished, and dropped out per year 4

year

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

number of PhD students

401

1246

1404

1626

1734

1887

2012

1956

1805

1717

1818

1793

1994

dissertations

321

944

1051

1189

1227

1297

1187

967

422

97

16

6

1

stopped

27

83

118

116

101

134

127

107

107

83

78

44

8

still busy

53

219

232

321

406

456

698

882

1276

1537

1724

1743

1985

References 1. CBS, figures for 1992-1993, http://statline.cbs.nl/statweb/index.stm

2. BISON Monitor of international mobility in education, November 2000 ( www.minocw.nl/download/doc/bison1.doc)

3. Van Vucht Thijssen (2000) Talent voor de Toekomst, Toekomst voor Talent ( www.minocw.nl/wetenschap/talent.doc)

4. KUOZ Kengetallen Universitair onderzoek (2000)

5. Schalen CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten: www.eur.nl/po/arbeidsvoorwaarden/cao/cao.html

6. NWO: www.nwo.nl

7. KNAW: www.knaw.nl

8. UvA: www.uva.nl

9. Technische Universiteit Twente: www.utwente.nl

10. Technische Universiteit Eindhoven: www.tue.nl

11. Technische Universiteit Delft: www.tudelft.nl

12. Salariskompas: www.newmonday.nl/Salariskompas/intro.html