‘Public defence of dissertation should be formality’

‘Public defence of dissertation should be formality’ 



The rules of PhD programmes are not always clear, with sometimes painful consequences. The Dutch PhD candidates network (PNN) compared the PhD rules of 15 Dutch universities. This showed that in addition to the central PhD rules, there are all kinds of different, decentralised rules, which are not easy to find. As a result, PhD students do not know exactly what they have to comply with.

Last year, for instance, it happened in Tilburg that a PhD candidate was allowed to go up for the public defense of her thesis, but still did not receive het PhD. After a retake, she eventually received it. The incident caused quite a stir.


The PNN now wants universities to include the decentralised rules and assessment criteria in their central PhD regulations. They should also stipulate that the public defense of the dissertation is only ceremonial and not the moment of assessment. A university that finds that a PhD candidate can still fail should clearly state this and, moreover, indicate what follow-up steps the candidate can take. (HOP, PvT)


HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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