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Training the mindSET - Improving and Internationalizing Skills Trainings for Doctoral Candidates


In many countries of Europe the past decades have seen a reform of doctoral training from the individual ‘apprenticeship model’ to the structured ‘graduate school’. This institutionalized change is accompanied by the development of trainings in ‘transferable skills’ and the setting up of curricula in this field, yet many universities still experiment with the right quantities and qualities of these trainings, answering to unclear needs of early stage researchers and varying employment markets. This is especially true in the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) fields. The discussion on an ‘Europeanization’ of doctoral training has until now, however, missed any disciplinary specifications. 


This project aims to develop a common European core curriculum in transferable skills for doctoral training, especially designed for the SET disciplines, including entrepreneurial, leadership, communication and organizational skills as well as education in research ethics and good scientific practice. It should, as a result, enhance the possibilities of cross-national mobility of early stage researchers, trainers and academic staff and their orientation within an international employment market. It is a contribution to a deeper and broader Europeanization of doctoral training, an advancement of training in transferable skills for a new generation of researchers in disciplines decisive for our common future. 

Main results and impact

A sustainable network of the partner universities for exchanging trainers, staff members and supervisors or doctoral candidates with respect to transferable skills qualifications will be set up. The results of the network will be applied and made public in open accessible manuals for the different training areas, various international and national conferences, and be disseminated to other European Universities of Technology. The contact and debates with policy makers and employers may result in an alteration of policies and priorities through mutual learning on the European level.

Topics and Approach

The partners will learn the different contexts of the reforms of doctoral training in their countries and reflect upon the varieties of the respective employment markets for PhD-graduates in science, engineering and technology. During the first year they will identify a core curriculum for PhD candidates in Universities of Technology (TUs) and debate in detail the goals of its components, referring to the European qualifications framework. The curriculum will take into account transferable skills especially relevant for SET disciplines, including entrepreneurial thinking as well as measures to improve reflection and training on research ethics and good scientific practice (intellectual property rights, data management etc. but also reflecting societal consequences of research). The partners will develop recommendations on the recognition of the acquired skills and qualifications to promote transparency and transferability between European Universities of Technology. Task forces will be formed to work on different products of the network project and also to address major umbrella institutions of science and research as well as professional organisations on the national and international level. In the second and third year, trainings and workshops will be held at different sites, integrating speakers and stakeholders from the national and international scenery and resulting in common training manuals (which will be shared online by an open access license). In the third year this will culminate in the organization of several multiplier events which seek wider attention and help disseminate the outcomes of the project. 

Target group and participants

The prime target group of this project is supervisors, graduate schools and training centres, which will benefit from the development of the curriculum and the trainings. Doctoral candidates will be involved in trainings and in the discussion and development of the manuals. Special attention will be paid to women as a minority in the SET disciplines and to international doctoral candidates studying at the partner universities. On a higher level, national and international stakeholders (professional organisations and umbrella institutions of science and research) will be targeted. This will contribute to developing and promoting results that are transferable to other universities, particularly in the EU but also beyond. 

Project team

The project partners represent some of the most important Universities of Technology in Europe, and will be recruited from core actors in the respective departments for doctoral training, graduate centres and schools, training institutions etc. They will also actively involve within the exchange supervisors and early stage researchers, as the direct representatives of the target groups of the trainings.


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