Denmark doubles PhD numbers ‘without lowering quality’

Government analysis finds most academics think postgraduate research standards have held steady or improved

March 17, 2017
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Source: istock

Denmark has doubled its PhD intake without compromising the rigour of the qualification, according to a new report.

In 2006, Denmark’s Ministry of Higher Education and Science decided to increase its investment in research. As part of this, universities were required to boost their intake of postdoctoral students to 2,400, which led to a doubling of PhD enrolments between 2003 and 2010.

At the time, critics questioned whether such growth would be possible without compromising quality because there might not be enough suitable candidates in the country.

But an analysis by the ministry, based on a survey of almost 4,500 PhD supervisors in Denmark and overseas, found that about half of the Danish supervisors surveyed reported that the academic standard of PhDs was the same as it was before the expansion programme, and almost a quarter said that it was higher. Just 16 per cent said that it had fallen.

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of the overseas supervisors said that the quality of Danish PhD theses was good or very good compared with leading international universities.

More than 80 per cent of PhD students who were also surveyed for the analysis reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their programme.

The report says that the boost in PhD numbers was partly possible because of an increased level of international recruitment.

holly.else@tesglobal.com

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