ZEF doctoral studies program in international comparison

December 04, 2012.  

The final report of the CODOC project (2010-2012) is published. CODOC stands for COOPERATION ON DOCTORAL EDUCATION BETWEEN AFRICA, ASIA, LATIN AMERICA AND EUROPE and deals with the growing international dimension in doctoral education.


CODOC was launched by the European University Association (EUA), ZEF and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The project methodology was based on regional reports, a survey of universities in East Asia, Southern Africa and Latin America and three workshops. This approach has been possible due to close cooperation between university networks in the four regions concerned: the Observatory on EU–Latin America Relations (OBREAL), the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE) and the ASEAN University Network (AUN) in East Asia and EUA in Europe. These networks and associations gave access to a wide range of universities in those regions. At the outset, partners in each region compiled a report, giving an overview of the situation in their particular region.


The survey was then partly based on information in the reports, and covered a broad spectrum of issues concerning doctoral education in order to gain an idea of the main convergences and divergences between the regions. Based on the survey results, three regional workshops were organized in order to collect and discuss concrete case studies that would validate and elaborate on those results. The findings of the project have now been published in a report and were presented during EUA Doctoral Week at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.


The conclusions of the CODOC project point to three major areas of convergence across the regions examined:

1. convergence in the discourse on doctoral education, emphasizing its role in the knowledge society;

2. convergence in growth patterns with increased demand particularly from the university sector, but also from the non-academic labor market where the growing demand for doctoral staff might seriously worsen existing problems of staff retention within universities;

3. convergence in the interest shown in strategic collaboration, with universities engaging in several collaborative ventures either to develop capacity and attain critical mass of research, or to cement the global presence of research intensive institutions.


In order to give a more detailed overview of the four regions, this report also contains an annex devoted specifically to each of them in turn, which are based on the reports submitted by the partner associations. The section on East Asia underlines the investments made in several countries in the region to establish research-intensive universities and engage in internationalization. The section also demonstrates how some governments in East Asia are granting more autonomy to universities.


The section devoted to Southern Africa focuses more on the discrepancies within the region, in which South Africa is by far the major provider of doctoral education. Within South Africa itself, disparity persists partly because of the country’s past. The section concludes that the region needs more investment in research to provide better infrastructure, more funding and particularly more regional collaboration.


The section on Latin America emphasizes the concentration of research capacity in a small group of universities in the continent’s major cities. It also examines specifically how Brazil and to some extent Mexico stand very much apart in terms of higher research output. The section argues for more collaboration with a clear capacity building purpose, in order to overcome the considerable challenges in the region concerning the retention of researchers.


Finally, the section concerned with Europe demonstrates how the continent has been going through a process of modernization of doctoral education, to a large extent promoted by the establishment of common structures for education and research in the Bologna Process and in the European Research Area.


Despite important challenges, particularly relating to the retention by universities of their research staff, a converging global system of doctoral education has the potential to develop a worldwide research community that will fully embrace the richness of human knowledge and address the global problems facing mankind.


More details at http://www.eua.be/eua-projects/current-projects/cooperation-on-doctoral-education.aspx


In the picture: ZEF doctoral students of "batch" 2012.


Günther Manske

Dr. Günther Manske