Wittenborg Welcomes Proposal for "Professional Doctorate"

"Universities of Applied Sciences Must Become as Attractive as Research Universities"

"Universities of Applied Sciences Must Become as Attractive as Research Universities"

Wittenborg has welcomed a proposal from Dutch institutions of higher education that students at universities of applied sciences should also be given the opportunity to do PhDs and not only those at research universities.

The idea of a "professional doctorate" for universities of applied sciences was put forward in a position paper by the Association for Dutch Universities (VSNU) and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen- VH). The two organisations represent 14 universities and 36 universities of applied sciences (hogescholen).

Wittenborg's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, said Wittenborg had already started discussions about gaining PhD-awarding powers with the previous Dutch minister of Higher Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker. In the meantime, it has started offering
3-4 year PhD research degrees together with its UK partner, the University of Brighton. Students study at Wittenborg in Apeldoorn, and have two supervisors, one from the University of Brighton and one from Wittenborg. The PhD degree is awarded by the University of Brighton.

The position paper also argues in favour of more master's programmes being offered at universities of applied sciences. While research universities continue to grow - partly thanks to the high number of international students - a decline in growth is expected for universities of applied sciences over the next 10 years, the Dutch daily NRC reports. Research universities also offer more English programmes than universities of applied sciences. "We want universities of applied sciences to be as attractive to students as research universities," the chairman of VSNU, Pieter Duisenberg, told the paper.

According to the position paper, several universities of applied sciences have already indicated they would be interested in offering professional doctorates. However, it warned that the funding of this so-called "third cycle" of education should not be to the detriment of existing education and research budgets.

WUP 10/10/2019
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press