Small third-cycle programme environments

In this report we have examined further what impact the size has on a third-cycle programme environment, by conducting an in-depth analysis of the third-cycle programmes evaluated by UKÄ 2017-2019.

During 2017-2019 UKÄ has evaluated 123 third-cycle programmes in 17 research subjects, in several different fields of research. The background of the report is that approximately 80 percent of the programmes that received the assessment Under review in the first and second evaluation rounds, had ten doctoral students or fewer.

What distinguishes the problems in small third-cycle programme environments, is the lack of supervisor resources, small seminar programmes, and a limited course offering.

Small third-cycle programme environments can be found at most HEIs

Susanna Lindenskoug, author of the report, states that small third-cycle programme environments can be found at most HEIs, and that many put considerable strategic effort into providing doctoral students with high quality education despite of the small number of students.

- The report shows that several programmes work hard, and succeed, with creating a functioning third-cycle programme environment with a critical mass, despite the small number of doctoral students within the subject, says Susanna.

The study shows that stable financing of third-cycle programmes is an important complement to the dedication shown by staff in providing good conditions for doctoral students.

- If you are going to start up third-cycle programmes, it requires that the HEI is prepared to invest continuous resources on these programmes. A lot of effort is put into giving doctoral students the best possible conditions. But it is also important to remember that is not possible to conjure up a functioning programme environment without the necessary resources. In addition to doctoral students in the environment, it also requires a sufficient amount of staff with time for this work, says Susanna.