New doctoral studies model moves forward in Saeima

In the first reading, the Saeima supported amendments to the Law on Higher Education, which provides for the introduction of a new doctoral studies model, including changing the financing model and providing for a new promotion process, the Parliament's Press Service said on January 19.

The Ministry of Education and Science has pointed to the high dropout rate of doctoral candidates, highlighting the current funding model, which does not cover the actual costs of implementing doctoral work, thus also undermining the sustainability of doctoral studies. The low income of a doctoral candidate – a stipend – has a negative impact on both the time that the doctoral candidate can dedicate to studies and the quality of promotion work, as well as the number of students and the generation change of academic staff and scientific staff in the higher education and scientific sector.

The law is intended to be supplemented by a new article on the employment of doctoral candidates. It provides that the institution of higher education or the partner involved in the implementation of the doctorate will conclude a contract of employment with the doctoral candidate. Accordingly, the doctoral candidate will be employed and paid for a normal load.

Doctoral funding is expected to consist of three components: remuneration, flat-base costs (€8,500), research and development grants, science base, and study performance. On the other hand, the funding of the State budget for study seats is intended to be based on the performance of universities, namely the number of doctorate winners, excellence in research, artistic creativity, and other results.

The amendments also provide for clarification of terminology in order to ensure a clear understanding of legal norms, so that universities can carry out doctoral courses in line with good international practice when developing and implementing their procedures.

The new doctoral model is scheduled to be implemented as of September 1 2023.

In order for amendments to the Law on Higher Education and related amendments to the Law on Scientific Activities, which are also related to the intended changes, to enter into force, they must be seen in the Saeima in two more readings.

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