Doctoral student representation in the third-cycle education network

On Thursday, the 29th of October, a meeting of a relatively new forum, the third-cycle education network (Sv: forskarutbildningsnätverket) was held. The idea behind this network is to bring all the FAs (directors of third-cycle education at school levels), all the PAs (program responsibles for third-cycle education) together with the central leadership of KTH to discuss doctoral education. This was only the second edition of such a meeting. The first one was organized in VT20. From now on such meetings will be organized twice every semester. For HT20, the second meeting is scheduled for 18th December. At KTH, similar networks have existed for both the first and second cycles of education.

In Thursday’s meeting, the doctoral representatives were led by the PhD Chapter Board members Jasmin Höglund Hellgren and Mohit Daga. Several doctoral representatives from the school councils also participated. In general the meeting focused on the program analysis of PhD programs as an important part of the annual monitoring of programs and KTH quality assurance system. The PhD program analysis is done by the PAs and then also used by the FAs when doing the aggregate analysis at school level.

The parts of the program analysis are the following:

  • An analysis and self-evaluation of the program status – an analysis of quantitative data
  • An analysis and self-evaluation of the feedback from PhD students, supervisors and administrative/technical staff
  • An analysis and self-evaluation of national assessment areas and KTH prioritized goals: digitalization and integration of equality in the education
  • An analysis and self-evaluation of the integration of sustainability in the education
  • An analysis and self-evaluation of the development of the program

The program analysis of 2021 will have a special focus on digitalization and integration of equality mainly due to the rapid shift from working and teaching on campus to moving almost all activities online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to the criticism formulated by the Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) concerning the lack of systematic integration of equality in KTH’s programs.

The main point on the agenda was a workshop conducted by Magnus Johansson, KTH’s Quality Assurance Officer, together with Sofia Ritzen, the Vice Dean of Faculty. The workshop discussed the upcoming quality dialogue involving doctoral education. Different aspects of doctoral education quality were discussed, for instance, doctoral courses, supervision, the ability for doctoral students to build a research network within KTH and beyond were discussed.

It was pointed out by the student representatives that the policies and guidelines regarding the doctoral courses need to be revisited. There was a general agreement for this. Regarding, supervision, it was discussed that there must be tangible mechanisms to evaluate supervision. One of the suggestion made by student representatives was to conduct personal interviews of the doctoral students. For doctoral students to build a research network beyond KTH, it was pointed out that the current guidelines and regulations discourages mobility during doctoral studies. Further, it was also mentioned that the departmental duties for doctoral students, must in practice adhere to the percentage of activities mentioned in the eISP and not overshoot it.

One of the tangible outcomes of this meeting was an agreement that doctoral students from each program will be included by the PAs during quality dialogue. In this meeting, a presentation regarding the doctoral student survey was also made by PhD Chapter Board member Mohit Daga. The FA of SCI School who was present in the meeting, through an email to the PhD Chapter, appreciated the presentation and also extended an invitation to make a similar presentation for the SCI School leadership team.

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