This blog post is a statement of the Helmholtz Juniors.
Followed by media response, the Max Planck Society recently announced dramatic changes in their support for doctoral students . Without notable public attention, the Helmholtz Association also released their new guidelines for the completion of PhD projects . These guidelines had been developed in the course of the last year with contributions of the Helmholtz Juniors.
In their guidelines, both large German research institutions stress the importance of doctoral students as first stage researchers who contribute significantly to the efforts of the research associations. The proclaimed aim is to support doctoral students at this career stage by offering appropriate structures, i.e. with regards to supervision, training, work infrastructures and career development.
The aspect drawing most attention on Max Planck was the announcement to bring the current scholarship practices to a termination and to offer every PhD student a support contract. The controversial issue of scholarships had been criticized in the past .
As Helmholtz Juniors we are delighted to see this shift in public opinion: That employment contracts (with social security benefits) for the whole time of the PhD project are seen as standard with scholarships being the exception, when appropriate. This is also how the Helmholtz Association formulates their vision on the PhD period in the newly released guidelines and how it is already implemented in most of the Helmholtz centers.
As the new guidelines of the Helmholtz Association are only recommendations for the practice in the different Helmholtz centers, we are looking forward to collaborate with the centers to set this new framework into action on a local level. We hope that the new guidelines as well as the shift in public opinion can enhance a constructive dialogue on the situation of doctoral candidates in those centers of the Helmholtz Association where scholarship holders form the majority of PhD students.
You want to know more about the issue of scholarships versus contracts, the new Helmholtz guidelines and the announced changes at the Max Planck Society?
Then stay tuned to our blog, as more detailed information will be presented in the upcoming weeks.
The Helmholtz-Juniors speakers of 2015
Daniel Neumann (HZG)
Meike Köhler (HMGU)