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DOC-CAREERS I (2006-2008)

'Collaborative Doctoral Education: University-Industry Partnerships for Enhancing Knowledge Exchange'

The DOC-CAREERS report underlines that collaborative doctoral (PhD) programmes, established between universities and industry, are becoming increasingly important across Europe. The study “Collaborative Doctoral Education: University-Industry Partnerships for Enhancing Knowledge Exchange” involved 33 universities, 31 companies, and 18 other stakeholder organisations, from 20 different countries across Europe. It highlights that both universities and business consider collaborative doctoral programmes as important channels for supporting both innovation and recruitment efforts.

From the industry perspective, these programmes are particularly valued as they provide companies with access to a highly-skilled workforce and cutting-edge academic research.  At the same time, they enable universities to establish long-term sustainable collaborations with business, and help build awareness of the added-value that university research can bring to industry and society at large.

Universities highlighted that such programmes should also help to improve recognition of the PhD qualification and ultimately increase the number of doctoral candidates enrolling in these degrees. Collaborative doctoral programmes also give doctoral students crucial exposure to non-university environments, and are seen as an excellent way to improve young researchers’ ability to relate abstract thinking to practical applications.

EUA’s new study also outlines industry expectations of PhD holders, and the necessary preconditions for setting up successful collaborative programmes. Amongst the recommendations, the report encourages universities to establish sound institutional tracking of the professional paths of their graduates, and to make sure doctoral students are well informed about all career opportunities. It also highlights that the committed support of governments to such programmes will be essential in developing university-industry collaboration in doctoral education, in particular for developing relations with small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which do not have the same resources to manage collaborations as larger R+D focussed companies.

A full version of the report can be downloaded here.

DOC-CAREERS Project (2006-2008)

“From Innovative Doctoral Training to Enhanced Career Opportunities” (DOC-CAREERS) was conceived as a ground-breaking project to explore the relations between doctoral programmes and the career development and employability prospects for doctoral candidates. The project was a follow-up to the EUA Doctoral Programmes Project (2004-2005) which studied the practice and experience of various doctoral training programmes across Europe.

The project contributed towards the continued development of an EU Integrated Strategy for doctoral holders in Europe through focusing upon the varied and changing research environments in which doctoral programmes are situated, how they are adapting to these realities and the consequent implications for future career development. It has made an important contribution, therefore, towards the plans for the continued development and implementation of both the “Mobility Strategy for the European Research Area” and “Researchers in the ERA: one profession, multiple careers” initiatives. It is within this context of evolving new structures of doctoral education and the need for greater diversity of career paths that the Responsible Partnering guidelines guidelines and the "European Charter for Researchers" and "Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers at European Level" will have to effectively come into play.

The project aimed at establishing a dialogue between a wide range of practitioners involved in higher education and research, industry and other stakeholders and policy makers across Europe. This dialogue sought to establish a basis for consensus-building upon which some first concrete steps in implementing those European initiatives could be taken. The project receives funding from the European Community Sixth Framework Programme.


The DOC-CAREERS Project was ground-breaking in a number of respects: by underlining the need to incorporate demands from a highly diversified labour market directly in the planning of doctoral programme structures; by introducing case studies among employers to highlight such demands; and by focusing on mobility as an inter-sectoral as well as a cross-border activity.

The project investigated issues central to EU Human Resources and Mobility actions focusing on various models of doctoral training in Europe and the employability of doctoral candidates in multiple careers and different sectors, namely:
• Development of transferable skills and competences in the context of employability and career perspectives in public and private sectors;
• Nature and extent of university and industry collaboration in doctoral programmes;
• Mobility strategies for career development within doctoral training;
• Requirements for more systematic collection of data at the university level to provide the basis for analysis of doctoral candidates' career paths.

Within the context of the ambitious Lisbon and Barcelona objectives, it is crucial to prepare young researchers for careers in industry and to open career development paths between private and public sectors by providing high quality research training. The project examined examples of good practices in evolving new structures for doctoral training in Europe which lead to enhanced career development through transferable skills acquisition and inter-sectoral mobility.


The Project involved three types of activities over the course of eighteen months under the direction of a Steering Committee comprising the main stakeholders, universities, industry, public research organisations and doctoral candidates. Representatives were selected through consultation between EUA (for the university sector), EIRMA, EARTO, and ProTon (for industry) and EURODOC and the Marie Curie Fellowship Association (for doctoral candidates and researchers).

1. Workshops
Three workshops addressed the specific themes within the main objectives of the project: generic skills, mobility strategies, and good practices between universities and industry to enhance research career opportunities. Participation in these workshops extended to universities and included other stakeholders (i.e., doctoral candidates, employers and research managers from industrial and public research organisations).

Read the outcomes of the first workshop
View the presentations from the first workshop

Read the outcomes of the second workshop 
View the presentations from the second workshop 

Read the outcomes of the third workshop
View the presentations from the third workshop

2. Case studies
A small number of qualitative expert case studies of good practice drawn from different European countries and regions were commissioned. These case studies were selected by the Project’s Steering Committee on the basis of recommendations from the workshops and findings during the course of the project. The purpose of the qualitative case studies was to develop potential ‘models’ of doctoral education for enhanced career opportunities based upon national and regional variations reflecting the economic, social and cultural specificities across Europe.

3. Data collection methodology and instruments
This part of the Project aimed at developing a university based data collection methodology and instruments, linking with other relevant initiatives. It dealt with one of the key conclusions of the previous EUA Doctoral Programmes Project – the clear need for more comparative data on doctoral candidates’ career outcomes. A Working Group on the development of university-based tracking instruments and data collection on doctoral careers was set up to identify existing methodologies and a survey tool was developed for that purpose.

4. List of participant organisations
See list here .

5. Presentation of the outcomes of DOC-CAREERS
at the EU French Presidency Conference: "Young Researchers in Europe”, Rennes, France (20-21 November 2008).
Dowload document here

Please click here to read the EUA conference report on the Rennes meeting.

For more information, please contact Minna Peltola.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96