PhD students call for immediate termination of scholarship experiment

PhD students with the Doughnut Party have initiated a petition to call once again for the immediate termination of the PhD scholarship experiment. Over two hundred PhD students have already signed.

The PhD scholarship experiment, which enables universities to offer a PhD student a scholarship instead of a position as an employee, is currently being evaluated by the Dutch government. The outcome of the evaluation, which is expected any moment, will determine whether it will be ended immediately or run on until its planned conclusion in 2024. 

‘If it is terminated immediately, that would mean all scholarship PhD students would have to be converted to regular PhDs’, explains scholarship PhD candidate Marie Stadel, who initiated the petition.


She and her fellow PhD students feel the experiment is unfair. It not only creates inequality among PhD candidates who basically do the same jobs, it’s also a hassle for supervisors and professors who have to juggle the different rights and obligations of different ‘types’ of PhD candidates. Terminating the experiment would also mean the UG’s teaching capacity is drastically increased, as scholarship PhDs are not allowed to teach.

‘There is quite a lobby for the continuation of the experiment’, Stadel says. ‘But we feel there also needs to be a voice for the other side that wants to end the experiment.’

Not open

Even though communication about rights and obligations of scholarship PhDs has improved since disgruntled PhDs published a manifesto in 2019, there are still many PhD students who never realised what they were getting into, Stadel says. ‘Graduate schools are not always fully open about the differences’, she says. Also, hardly any official information about the evaluation process is given to PhD students. 

‘And of course, when you’re a master student applying, you think: better this position than none at all. You minimise these things. But then when you’re actually working in the position and see Covid bonuses paid out, or extensions being given to colleagues who are sitting next to you, you realise what the differences really are. That feels very different.’

Independent voice

The PhD students hope to give an independent voice to the PhD community. ‘We want to make sure that everybody can have a go at it, basically’, adds PhD scholarship student Taisha Muller. 

The UG’s PhD network GRIN supports the petition, as does the national PhD network PNN. 

You can find the petition here

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