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PhD degree programme recognised by international panel

The PhD programme at Health, Aarhus University, has been evaluated and it is a well-run and competitive programme when it comes to producing talented researchers. This is the conclusion of a report from an international evaluation panel.

2015.05.12 | Henriette Stevnhøj

The PhD programme at Health, Aarhus University, has been evaluated and it is a well-run and competitive programme when it comes to producing talented researchers.

A researcher who graduates from Health's PhD programme has a solid launch pad according to the conclusion from a recently published report by an international evaluation panel with participants from Finland, China, the UK and Denmark.

The panel’s fundamental assessment is that the PhD programme is well-organised and provides talented researchers with good opportunities for pursuing their career ambitions in the academic world. Alternatively, the PhD programme supports graduates in exploiting their research competences in other workplaces that can benefit from highly qualified employees. According to the evaluation, this can e.g. be in the healthcare sector, where PhD graduates contribute to enhancing the quality of services and promoting evidence-based treatment.

PhD programme matches requirements

The evaluation comes at a time when the debate about the value of PhD initiatives in Denmark is very much to the fore in the media. Vice-Dean for Talent Development and Head of Graduate School, Health, Lise Wogensen, is therefore particularly pleased with the visit of the evaluation panel, as they were specifically tasked with evaluating the PhD degree programme at Health in an international perspective.  

"At the moment, the PhD degree programme in Denmark is subject to some criticism with a public discussion of the quality of the programme and our training of researchers and whether it is good enough. The evaluation shows that we match the expectations and requirements being made internationally and that we do this to the highest level of academic education. At the same time, the evaluation also points to areas where we need to develop and improve the degree programme. It is very useful and action-oriented," says Lise Wogensen.

In a dialogue with employers

One of the areas of improvement pointed to by the evaluation panel is career planning. The evaluation panel recommends that the PhD programme intensify support for PhD students in the form of career planning courses.

We already have mentor schemes and offers of career guidance interviews and I will carefully consider what other options we have for making different career opportunities more visible. Such options need to be developed in close dialogue with employers and this will take place in collaboration with the Career Centre at AU. I could easily imagine a collaboration with, for example, the pharmaceutical industry in developing of the study programmes," says Lise Wogensen.

More research cooperation across the faculties and fields of study is also named in the evaluation as an area with scope for development. This can be a difficult manoeuvre because PhD students have a natural tendency towards a narrow focus. The report therefore recommends setting-up an environment that invites the students to enter into broader interdisciplinary collaboration.

This challenge has already been taken up by the head of graduate school:

"We can see that people in other countries create new frameworks for interdisciplinary research and educational collaboration. One example is Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research in the US, where they have established what they call affinity research collaboratives for different topics, based in the local research environments. An inspirational initiative and the sort of thing we would like to work on promoting here. At present we are working to identify which unnecessary barriers prevent collaboration on the PhD degree programmes across the faculties and subject areas. We will also come to work much more with the interdisciplinary courses we already hold,” says Lise Wogensen.



Report: International Evaluation of the PhD Programme of the Graduate School of Health Sciences, University of Aarhus, Denmark

The review team:

Professor Stina Syrjänen, University of Turku, Finland

Professor Hongquan Zhang, Peking School of Basic Medicine Sciences, China

Professor Neil Pearce, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Senior Executive Officer Jakob Ousager, University of Southern Denmark

Further information

Lise Wogensen Bach
Vice-dean for Talent Development, Health, Aarhus University
D: +45 8715 2012
M: +45 2548 8522
Email: lwb@au.dk

Research, Health and disease, All groups, External target group, Aarhus University, Health