Rieza Aprianto, of the Personnel Faction of the University Council, described the faction’s surprise at finding PhD scholarship positions for the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) which included a ‘job description’ and specific limitations for the research itself.
The issue is that PhD scholarships – also known as bursaries – are officially not jobs, and the researchers are supposed to come up with their own ‘curiosity-driven’ research topics.
Aprianto questioned this aspect in the vacancies, pointing out that the research component is central in the so-called PhD student experiment. ‘How is this an effort to strengthen curiosity-driven research by young academic talent?’, he asked the council.
Ton Groothuis, director of GELIFES, explains why a short research proposal is included: ‘Considering that the applicants are recently graduated master’s students, you cannot really expect much more than that.’ Groothuis says that after making it through initial interviews, candidates are asked to provide a more thorough proposal.
As for the inclusion of phrases such as ‘job description’ and ‘employment’, Graduate School dean Lou de Leij says the problem lies in the RUG’s current system for posting vacancies, ROOS Recruitment Software. As it stands, the format of a vacancy cannot be changed. ‘That could give the wrong impression that the position is for a job, but it’s for a PhD student instead’, he says.
De Leij says that the eventual goal is to set up a separate, parallel list of positions for PhD scholarship positions. ‘Otherwise, it will remain a bit of an odd situation where you have positions for PhD students mixed in with the normal PhD vacancies. That is just terribly confusing, and we don’t want that.’
The deadline for the twelve vacancies at GELIFES is Monday, September 12. All of the four-year scholarship PhD positions have a description of the research projects which the candidate would join.