New type of PhD student: a 6-year contract with extra teaching

The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) wants to recruit a new type of PhD student: PhD lecturers would have six years to get their degree, but 40 percent of their time would be spent teaching. 

The new PhD type is a response to the new collective agreement for higher education. This new agreement has made it risky for FSE to employ fellows, also known as post-doctoral researchers, who spend more than 30 percent of their time teaching. 

‘Their responsibilities are very similar to that of an assistant professor’, says acting FSE dean Rob Timmermans. ‘That means we run the risk of people at the end of their contract saying that they worked as assistant professor and demanding a contract. So we stopped doing that.’


However, the collective agreement does allow faculties to employ PhD students for six years and assign them extra teaching work. In addition to research, the PhD student would teach classes on a ‘lecturer 4’ level. That means they don’t create their own courses but teach existing ones. The faculty will pay for the extra costs that come with the longer appointment.

According to Timmermans, this could be a good choice for candidates who might be less interested in a research career and who’d like to focus more on teaching. It would also be of great help to institutes that are struggling with a lack of teaching staff, like the Bernoulli Institute.

However, he doesn’t think it’s a definitive solution to the capability problems the university has been having; that requires a more permanent solution.  



  1. -RUG! introduce yourself?
    – I’m RUG, I’m buying phds in low price and sell education in high price.
    -OK. Does quality matter?
    -Are you crazy? I’m here for money.

  2. 6 years of PhD creates a whole cohort of graduates who then compete with equally trained but younger PhDs for the same positions, especially outside of academia, where the vast majority ends up. The RUG needs to start seariously investing in their teaching instead of loading a big part on the shoulders of PhD students. This would also benefit the students that take the classes, by having teachers who have the time to fully focus on the responsibility of teaching classes. The RUG keeps eroding its own standards in education with this, all to not spend money it surely has. Education and research costs money, there should not be shortcuts.

    • Perfect description of RUG! They really have to stop trying to get cheap labour and mask it as something amazing. Especially when taking advantage of the PhD students.

  3. Another way of the RUG to hire cheap labor, not offer permanent jobs, and get the benefit of the government subsidy when a PhD graduates.

  4. Yes, let’s do another experiment with phds!
    Wouldn’t it be better to ask scholarship students to teach and reimburse them?


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