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Steep increase in Leiden doctorates

28 April 2006, 13:37

The number of doctorates at Leiden University rose strongly last year. At the end of 2005, there were 289, an increase of 49 over 2004. The biggest increases were in the faculties of Law and Mathematics and Natural Sciences, with each faculty gaining fifteen more new doctors.

The number of doctorates at Leiden University rose strongly last year. At the end of 2005, there were 289, an increase of 49 over 2004. The biggest increases were in the faculties of Law and Mathematics and Natural Sciences, with each faculty gaining fifteen more new doctors. LUMC also performed well (+12).

An increase of 21% in 2005 is remarkably high after a fairly stable pattern in previous years.

There are several factors which have had a favourable effect on the number of doctorates achieved in Leiden.
Professor Frans Saris, dean of Maths & Natural Sciences, jokingly - but with an element of seriousness - attributes this increase to particular policies adopted by the faculty. 'In statistical terms, a rise of ten doctorates could be regarded as a normal fluctation,' according to Saris.

'For a doctoral candidate, the fourth year is generally the year when the most progress is made, which is apparently also true for the faculty board.' Saris can point to two possible contributing factors which are direct results of the faculty's new policies. 'In the past four years, the board has actively stimulated multidisciplinary research, particularly in the area of Life and Bio-sciences’.

Extra funds were made available for professors from different disciplines working together on doctoral projects. For those doctoral candidates who had not completed their thesis within four years, their contract was extended for a year so that they could finish their doctorate as a member of our faculty.'

Chance
Professor Wim Voermans, from the Law faculty who is the portfolio-holder for research, also cites faculty policy as an important factor in the increased number of doctorates. In his view, chance also plays a role. ‘With the reorganisation of the Law faculty, it was agreed that for professors of the faculty, contributing to doctoral projects should be a condition of extending their contract,' explains Voermans. 'We are now reaping the benefits of that policy.' But this reorganisation cannot be the only reason for the increase. Supervisors are expressly asked to encourage doctoral candidates.

Also, in comparison with Law faculties at other universities, the Leiden Law faculty has a large number of external candidates, currently some 120. These candidates do not have a research contract; they only come to the university for guidance. 'The number of doctorates achieved works as a magnet for new candidates,' says Voermans.

'For this reason, it is significant that at our university a large number of theses are not written in Dutch. Four out of every ten theses in 2004 were in English and one in French.' Voermans expects that in 2006 the number of doctorates from the Law faculty will again exceed 20.

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