| 28.06.2024

UNIFI: Researcher training to be reformed - quality and impact through cooperation

Universities will develop joint approaches to strengthen the quality and impact of researcher training. The aim of these recommendations is to increase the appeal of researcher training and the number of flexible pathways to training, strengthen its relevance to working life and employment opportunities, and speed up graduation.

Future researcher training will support the strategic goals of universities, serve doctoral researchers and their careers and provide broad benefits for society as a whole.

The national recommendations for the reform of researcher training, shared by universities, have been published. The recommendations have been developed extensively in cooperation with internal and external stakeholders in the university community. The shared recommendations signal a strong commitment by universities to reform researcher training in order to increase its quality, impact and appeal.

At the heart of the recommendations is the promotion of a culture of close collaboration and interaction in researcher training, both within universities and with stakeholders. The reform effort will be supported by additional national efforts to develop doctoral education and a political consensus on raising skills levels.

The recommendations cover a wide range of topics, from recruitment to degree requirements and cooperation with working life, and apply to Finnish researcher training in general, not only to doctoral education pilots.

Efficiency, well-being and diverse career opportunities

Universities aim to provide doctoral researchers with the highest-quality and most effective research- and training environment possible, as well as a wide range of career opportunities. At the same time, the aim is to make the knowledge generated at universities more accessible to society.

The report particularly highlights the importance of flexible researcher training pathways, guidance and support, and partnerships with working life. The proposed measures will streamline the progression of studies and aim to achieve faster graduation. The recommendations also address issues such as quality assurance, mobility, support for career development, well-being and the promotion of cooperation with business and public-sector stakeholders.  

The recommendations to harmonise practices do not mean that there cannot continue to be exceptions to the way in which researcher training is carried out and delivered at sectoral and university level. The recommendations will also be reviewed when information and experience on implementation and new initiatives, such as the 2024–27 doctoral education pilots, become available.

"And the work does not stop here – the effective implementation of the recommendations and the follow-up actions to be promoted in cooperation at national level will determine how the measures will ultimately improve the appeal of doctoral research and the satisfaction of doctoral researchers, as well as speeding up graduation and diversifying employment opportunities. We hope that the recommendations will serve as a catalyst for discussion and lay the foundations for a culture of strong cooperation and interaction,” says Jari Hämäläinen, Vice Rector of LUT University and Chair of the steering group.  

Researcher training builds the future of research and society

Researcher training plays a key role  in building new knowledge, innovation and the knowledge-based society. Doctoral researchers build  the foundations for the future of universities and society and for research.

There are therefore two-way pressures on the development of researcher training: Society and the labour market have a high demand for highly skilled people, and doctors are also expected to graduate faster and find more diverse employment in different sectors. At the same time, the aim is to maintain the high quality of research and education.

The report stresses that these objectives are not contradictory, but can be used to create a more holistic approach to researcher training that meets the needs of society and research and serves the doctoral researcher.

Read the full report here:
Suositukset tutkijakoulutuksen kehittämiseksi

The English translation of the report will be published in August. Unifi will hold a stakeholder meeting in the autumn to further discuss the recommendations and the way forward.  

Further information:  
Olli-Pekka Kauppila
Programme Director for the doctoral programme:
Hanken School of Economics

Jari Hämäläinen
Chair of the Doctoral Education Reform Steering Group
Vice Rector, LUT University , tel. +358 40 596 1999