PhD students popular among Dutch employers

The conventional wisdom that doctoral students (PhD students) have a hard time finding employment is wrong. It turns out that 86% of doctoral students at Dutch universities have landed a job by the time they defend their theses. Moreover, a growing number of foreigners are coming to the Netherlands to earn their doctorates.

In 1996, 99% of doctoral students were Dutch nationals. At present, only 2 / 3 of them carry a Dutch passport. Those foreign doctorate students opting for the Netherlands do so primarily because of the reputation of the institute of higher education or the promoter.

First time
These are a few of the findings in a report compiled by researchers from Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam. The research was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. For the first time since 1996, research in the Netherlands was carried out into employment opportunities for doctoral students.

565 PhD students
Over an one-year period, researchers Hans Sonneveld, Rens van de Schoot (Utrecht University) and Mara Yerkes (Erasmus University Rotterdam) asked all doctoral students from the universities in Utrecht, Rotterdam, Delft and Wageningen to complete a questionnaire after their thesis defence. A total of 565 doctoral students complied with their request.

More women
As said, 86% of doctoral students have already been hired at the time of their thesis defence. And 66% of these job-holding doctoral students will be primarily working as researchers. Although they have gotten off to a good start in the job market, it should be noted that 49% of employed doctoral students will be working on temporary contracts. Another result from the report is that the percentage of women doing doctorates has increased.

In 1996, women made up 22%, but now account for 47%. So the trend of evermore females moving into higher education is now also being seen in its higher echelons. 

Brain gain or brain drain?
In the report, the researchers also provide an answer to a question that has been troubling Dutch politicians for some time now: Are (too) many Dutch highly trained or educated professionals leaving the Netherlands for other countries? Politicians are equally concerned about too small a foreign inflow of talent. The researchers’ preliminary conclusion is that the Netherlands has a small net surplus: there are slightly more foreign doctoral students who remain in the Netherlands than the number of Dutch doctoral students seeking greener pastures abroad. But the report cautions that a small proportion of both groups were not entirely sure about whether they would be working in the Netherlands or abroad.

The fairly strong position of those who have recently acquired their doctorates largely stems from their own efforts, says the report. Universities and research schools can do a lot more to help improve career opportunities for doctoral students inside and outside the academic world. 

More information
The report, including all figures relating to job opportunities for doctoral students and the recommendations made by the researchers, is available from Ronnie van Veen, Press officer for Utrecht University’s Faculty of Social Sciences, at +31 (0) 30 253 40 27 or Wietske de Lange, Press officer for Utrecht University at +31 (0) 30 253 40 73.

Source: Utrecht University



Leave a comment