EUROPEAN COMMISSION LERU Open Seminar on Innovative Doctoral Training

Head of Unit RTD B2 ERA Policy and Reform – Fabienne Gautier
LERU Open Seminar on Innovative Doctoral Training
Date: Tuesday 7 October 2014
Timing: 8.30 am till 4.30 pm
Venue: Lombardy Region Delegation to the EU, Place du Champ de Mars 2, Brussels
• Ladies and gentlemen, may I start by first thanking LERU for hosting this
timely event.
• Innovative doctoral training (IDT), I am sure you will agree, is of utmost
importance in this increasingly globalised world. If we want to continue
to compete with the best, and attract and retain the best, then we have
to adapt to society's changing needs.
• Today I will outline what we have done and are doing at European level
to give our doctoral candidates the best possible environment to carry
out and exploit their research.
• As you will see there is a top-down as well as a bottom-up approach.
From the top we are supporting doctoral training through the Innovation
Union flagship initiative, with a commitment dedicated to delivering the
European Research Area, specifically on the quality of doctoral training.
From the bottom, we expect institutions to implement the IDT principles
agreed to in 2011.
• I can safely assume that we all agree that doctoral training must
increasingly meet the needs of an employment market that is wider than
• Training researchers just to be researchers in academia is no longer
sufficient. We know the majority of researchers will pursue careers
outside the university environment.
• From the outset, knowledge transfer should be given more recognition
as part of an academic career, researchers should be better attuned to
the innovation potential of their findings, and academics should be
trained in entrepreneurial skills.
• Innovative doctoral training will give European doctoral candidates the
skills needed to meet 21st century employment needs. Gone are the days
of getting your PhD and burying your head in books and journals until the
day you retire.
• Today's doctoral candidates have global opportunities, and Europe has
global competition. And we are stepping up to the plate and meeting it.
• With our seven principles for innovative doctoral training we are putting
the framework in place to enable our doctoral candidates to succeed.
However, the time for lip service is over. These principles must be
endorsed and implemented. We must move from words to deeds.
• The IDT principles are just that: principles. They can be adapted to
different contexts and academic environments. How this is to happen
must come from the field – from the universities and institutes
• This is why I am very encouraged by the positive actions taken on IDT by
LERU members, as outlined in the Advice Paper. LERU is showing that
implementing IDT is possible, and I am very pleased that we are singing
from the same hymn sheet. I do hope that these good practice examples
are studied and that there will be a wider uptake as a result. The recent
report of the working group from the Steering Group on Human
Resources and Mobility also confirms this in their recommendations.
• I mentioned competition. There is no hiding from the fact that emerging
economies are increasingly producing higher quality students and higher
quality doctoral programmes. It is often said that if a Chinese student
could choose, he or she would choose to study at home first, study in the
United States second, and choose Europe third.
• Our aim is to make Europe the most desirable destination to do your
doctorate. The Doctorate in Europe. Let's aim to get the best brains to
spend at least some of their time in Europe. Doctorates in Europe come
in many shapes and sizes. Some doctorates will put emphasis on
collaboration with industry and other employment sectors. Other
doctorates will put an emphasis on cross-border cooperation of
universities, sometimes being called 'European doctorates'. Some
doctorates will put an emphasis on interdisciplinary research.
• Whatever form they take, Doctorates in Europe must be attractive to
encourage the best to apply.
• As we know, Europe is producing more and more PhDs every year. And a
growing share of these is finding work outside of academia. Thus, the
education of excellent young scientists from within or outside Europe
has become a key strategic goal in order to secure Europe’s position in
the global knowledge economy.
• This increase in scientific production, the growing competition for young
talents and the necessary consideration for the job market outside
academia have partly triggered what can be called a 'quiet revolution in
doctoral training'.
• You can call it 'transferable skills' training, or investing in '21st century
skills'. The outcome is the same: PhD candidates are broadening their
horizons as they notice their scientific knowledge is needed more than
ever in order to drive innovation.
• The Commission, together with Member States, is giving and will
continue to give, full backing to the implementation of IDT across
Europe. This is why we have opened up the Structural Funds to support
universities in their uptake of the principles. Through our funding
mechanisms in Horizon 2020 we will support up to 70 000 doctoral
candidates in IDT. We will launch calls on 'institutions with innovative
concepts' worth €25 million in H2020, which will include IDT. Under the
Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme in Horizon 2020, which includes
industrial doctorates and supports researchers at all stages of their
career, we will fund over 25 000 PhDs. This will become the main funding
programme for doctoral training.
• Under Horizon 2020, the Commission has proposed to open COFUND to
national schemes for doctoral candidates as well. I find this a most
promising development, in particular when these schemes will follow the
Principles for Innovative Doctoral Training.
• If IDT is to be entrenched in PhD programmes, it also needs sustainable
funding. Having project-based IDT funding will not deliver long-term
benefits. Therefore, co-funding from the EU or other sources cannot
become the norm. Doctoral candidates should receive funding for the
duration of their studies, usually 3-4 years. As the skills gained are largely
for the benefit of the private sector, appropriate funding from industry
should be considered.
• At the upcoming Yerevan meeting in May 2015, Bologna ministers of
higher education will address IDT and Europe's position in the world.
• Also the upcoming ERA Conference on 16 March 2015 will have a specific
session on Doctoral Training.
• As you can see, the groundwork has been done, and it is now up to
institutions to implement the principles. I am very encouraged by the
excellent initiatives that LERU members have taken, and will continue to
do going forward.
Thank you