Detailed PhD regulations

January 2017


These notes are a combination of relevant information found on the website of the University of Groningen (both general and specific rules and regulations) on the topic of reading for a PhD and information about this programme at CIE. This centre will be located at the University of Groningen - Campus Fryslân in Leeuwarden. The rules and regulations relevant to reading for your PhD, as promulgated by the University of Groningen, are leading should any ambiguity arise from these notes. The reader is recommended to become familiar with these rules and regulations. The can be found at: . You are specifically also requested to take note of the official PhD regulations. These are published at:

The part-time programme at CIE is geared towards obtaining your PhD whilst you are a practitioner in the field of Internationalisation of Higher Education. This means that you will most likely not be able to devote all your time towards your PhD studies. You will need to seriously consider how much time you can devote to your PhD studies as experience has shown that a very low level of activity will draw out the programme to such an extent that other life changing events may affect you being able to complete the program. The other commitment we need from you is that you are able to attend at least twice a year a one full week of residential activities in relation to your PhD program. These weeks will be filled with lectures by experts, presentations by yourself and other PhD candidates, workshops on research and research techniques, and other group activities (such as debates and discussions with your professors). It will be our aim to make these residential weeks stimulating and very high level events for which you will be expected to prepare. In addition, we will encourage you to be connected to the wider world of IoHE by participating in seminars and conferences on the topic.

You are free to enlist the assistance of others in the conduct of research. It may be profitable for the conduct of your PhD tenure to align the project with specific knowledge development needs of your place of work. This might create additional opportunities for involvement of colleagues in research. You are at all times responsible for the conduct of such research inasmuch as the extent to which you will be using this for your thesis. Your imagination and innovation will be key to a successful collaboration. Please note that the PhD programme is likely to be underway before the Master’s programme is up and running and this will affect how much of this alignment may be able to be carried out in your specific instance in the first cohort.

General Information for PhD applicants

The Dutch PhD system is held in high international regard, and a full-time PhD programme in the Netherlands takes on average 5 years[†]. It should be noted that this estimate excluded PhD candidates who spent less than 2 years on their dissertation because part of the work towards their PhD had already been carried out prior to the tenure of their PhD programme. During the tenure of your PhD, you conduct your own research, and a Graduate School provides a balanced mix of expert supervision and tailor-made postgraduate training, whilst giving you the freedom to pursue your own ideas within the scope of a specific research theme.

Independent research is the main focus of your PhD programme, and you are supervised in this by at least two experts on your research subject. Many international PhD candidates come to Groningen for a short stay, and you too may choose to carry out part of your research abroad. You write up the results of your research in your PhD thesis, which almost always comprises a number of papers that have been or will be published in scientific journals. After a successful defence, you will be awarded an internationally recognised PhD degree by an esteemed university.

Alongside your research and thesis, you have the opportunity to follow a PhD training programme based upon your needs and interests as well as the requirements of CIE. The training programme usually amounts to 30 ECTS credit points (1 ECTS credit point is the equivalent of 28 hours of study) earned over a period of four years, and is a mix of courses on the general skills required to work in the worlds of science and industry and in-depth courses on your research subject. There are several courses you can take in order to complete the training programme, but you can also earn ECTS by attending conferences or research seminars or by participating in other activities. You create your training programme together with your supervisors and CIE.
In addition to the full-time programmes, other variants are possible, such as combining reading for a PhD with work outside the university.

General requirements for obtaining a PhD position

To be eligible for a PhD programme you must meet the following general requirements:

  • Possession of a Master’s degree or equivalent in a discipline that is directly or closely related to the discipline in which the PhD research will take place. The degree must have been gained within a reasonable period of time and with marks that justify the expectation that you will be able to complete the PhD programme. The essence is that through your Master’s degree or other evidence (like published papers) you must be able to demonstrate your ability to conduct research.
  • Sufficient knowledge of English: a TOEFL score of at least 580-600 (paper), 237- 250 (computer) or 92-100 (internet), or a minimum score of 6.5 to 7.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System; overall; 6.5. for each section). Native speakers of English, and Dutch applicants with a VWO certificate, are exempt from this requirement.

How to obtain a PhD position?

Admission to a PhD programme is highly selective and based on academic merit. CIE will adopt the policy of having open PhD positions: ‘open’ means that you can formulate your own research proposal as long as it corresponds with the discipline and research expertise of CIE. This means for the moment that we are looking for candidates who are interested in conducting research into the impact of interventions that can be grouped under the heading of internationalisation as carried out by higher education institutions (HEIs) on the development of graduate attributes and their application to life or professional skills, development of the HEI, and societal effects at the regional, national, or supranational level. The research is not limited to higher education alone, since the impact of internationalisation activities at an earlier age may have profound effects on an individual’s tertiary education phase. The bottom line here is that the effects of activities carried out under the umbrella of IoHE become better understood. This is so that these activities may be further developed and refined. The wording of the framework for PhD’s with CIE is:

Research into the impact of and drivers for (interventions that can be grouped under the heading of) internationalisation as carried out by education institutions on the development of graduate attributes and their application to life or professional skills, development of the educational institution, and societal effects at the regional, national, or supranational level. The research is specifically not limited to higher education alone, since the impact of internationalisation activities at an earlier age may have profound effects on an individual’s tertiary education phase. Ultimately the research conducted at CIE is to promote that the effects of activities carried out under the umbrella of internationalisation of education become better understood. The research can also include work on policy, strategy, and implementation and/or the link between these. CIE invites the use of interdisciplinary approaches and mixed methods of research.

Applying for a PhD position with your own funding

Unless otherwise specifically indicated PhD candidates at CIE are expected to have their own funding for their PhD program. Later in this document you will find details of the commitments you will have.
Should you be in a position to conduct your research full-time it is worthwhile to note that the University of Groningen welcomes full-time international PhD students with a competitive scholarship from their home country and wants to create the best possible conditions for them to perform well during their PhD research. To this end, the University is offering housing especially for PhD students and it will make a contribution to the accommodation costs of € 400 per month. Consult the information on the Accommodation Scheme for Selected Bursary PhD Students to check whether you are eligible.

Regulations of the Conferral of a Doctorate

General information

The PhD Regulations University of Groningen incorporate a number of statutory provisions conform the Higher Education and Research Act (in Dutch: WHW), and a number of conditions laid down by the PhD Board of the University of Groningen. Among other things, the PhD Regulations stipulate who will be allowed admission to the PhD programme and how the supervisors and co-supervisors are appointed, how the thesis shall come into being, and how the Assessment and PhD examining committee shall be composed. The PhD regulations take effect as of 1 September, 2013 and replace the old regulations. However, the provisions of the second sentence of Article 2.2.2 will apply only to PhD programmes which have started after 20 February 2013.
The most salient changes in comparison with the old PhD regulations are that:

  • from now each PhD must be supervised by at least two formal supervisors, namely two full professors (promotores) or one full professor (promotor) and one co-supervisor (copromotor);
  • the Graduate School Admissions Committee will make decisions regarding the admission of prospective students to a PhD programme;
  • a training and supervision plan must be drawn up by the PhD student and the supervisors before the PhD programme begins;
  • the PhD student will take an academic pledge at the PhD ceremony;
  • the PhD student will no longer be awarded a PhD degree by the Faculty, but by the University;
  • the PhD procedure is organised through a digital workflow (the application Hora Finita, information can be obtained from the Graduate Schools);
  • the PhD student must deliver an electronic version of the thesis and the propositions;
  • the PhD student must submit his data with accompanying explanatory notes.

Application for admission to the PhD programme (from article 2.3 in PhD regulations)

The prospective PhD student will be admitted to the PhD programme if the Graduate School Admissions Committee in question has, in accordance with the relevant admission procedure, responded positively to the application for admission. To be admitted, the prospective PhD student will at least supply a certified copy of his Master’s certificate and a copy of his passport, and a training and supervision plan. The training and supervision plan will at least state the subject of the PhD thesis and the names of the primary and other supervisors and co-supervisors the PhD student would like the director of the Graduate School to appoint.

Prospective PhD students who are not basing their application to be admitted to the PhD programme on an examination as referred to in Article 2.4.1a, taken at the University of Groningen, will, along with their application to the Admissions Committee, submit a copy of their passport and a certified copy of a certificate acquired elsewhere by passing an examination within the meaning of Article 2.4.1a of these PhD regulations, or, if they have not obtained a Master’s degree as referred to in Article 2.4.1a, they must follow the procedure of the implementing regulations referred to in Article 2.4.2.

In general, to be eligible you will have a Master’s degree which embodies evidence of your ability to conduct research or this evidence may have been obtained subsequently as a result of your direct involvement in research that has led to peer reviewed publications. You will also need to supply a certified copy of your degree as well as a copy of your passport. In addition, you need to have a training and supervision plan.

The application process therefore will require you to have a research proposal. This proposal must include a time schedule (milestones) and supervision plan, as well as the average time per week you’ll be able to spend on your research.
The nature of our particular set-up is that in most cases you’ll spend substantial amounts of time at your own place of work and in your own environment. To ensure that you are capable of conducting research almost independently, we’ll pay special attention to your proven research abilities. To facilitate our examination of this aspect we do require an electronic copy of your Master’s thesis and any publications that are attributable (whole or in part) to you. If you are a co-author please indicate in your CV, the extent to which you were responsible for each such publication.


We will conduct most of our supervisory activities via electronic means, including the use of Skype or other audio-visual conferencing facilities, unless you live in or near Leeuwarden. In addition, we’ll have supervisory discussions during your residential periods. The extent to which you’ll receive this form of supervision is by mutual agreement, but you can count on at least 4 hours per month. As we are interested in making sure of your progress, additional methods of structuring your approach to your PhD will be encouraged. A record of each supervision session will be kept to be able to monitor progress. The procedures that pertain to the use of Hora Finita will be followed.
Hora Finita is the registration system for PhD students at the University of Groningen. All processes relating to your PhD, from enrolment to thesis submission, are managed by this system. This is in accordance with the PhD regulations of the University.
It is of utmost importance that data is entered into Hora Finita in a timely manner and that this data is complete. The PhD student, supervisor(s), Graduate Schools and PhD degree registration office each have their own role here.


You will be able to avail yourself of all the facilities that are offered to PhD students at the University of Groningen, but we understand that many of these are of limited use if you are not actually on campus. A resource that will be essential is the library, and in particular, the electronic library of the university. There are no tuition fees for PhD students but we will expect you to bear the cost of attending the residential periods. This will include the cost of your transport, accommodation, and some other expenses (such as meals, etc.). The residential periods will in the first instance take place in Leeuwarden, which is the seat of CIE. This city can be reached by train from Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam. The journey takes about 2.5 hours in total.

The PhD proposal

Ultimate acceptance as a PhD candidate will depend on acceptance of a worked-out PhD proposal. We are prepared to assist you in the process of framing the best possible proposal without it constituting a guarantee that you will ultimately accepted. Should you require to fulfil the language requirements by virtue of a English language test, we advise you not to take this test until such time as you are accepted into the programme.

Process of being accepted as an External PhD candidate

  • CIE has called for expressions of interest and the fact that you have received this document attests to the fact that you have expressed interest in reading for a PhD with CIE.
  • Pre-selection of potential candidates involves you providing evidence to meet our selection criteria. These may be adapted from time to time, but shall never be changed in such a way as to reduce the quality of the candidates entering this PhD programme. This should re-assure you of our intentions to achieve the highest standards possible and that the opportunity to interact with other external PhD candidates allows you to assume a substantial background knowledge in the field just like yourself. This promotes an excellent and rewarding environment for academic exchange. These selection criteria are shown below.
  • The availability of appropriate supervisors for the proposed research. At the University of Groningen, you will have ordinarily two supervisors and under exceptional circumstances there may be one more;

  • Even if you meet all selection criteria, there may be better qualified candidates, who have been judged to better meet or exceed the selection criteria;
  • Candidates are selected for admission without regard to marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, or their social background. Admissibility is determined by the selection criteria and the availability of supervisors;
  • After you have been admitted on a provisional basis as a PhD candidate you need to work on your PhD proposal for acceptance and, with our assistance, find appropriate supervisors. When this has been taken care of the Graduate School will confirm your candidature;
  • The maximum tenure of the provisional candidature is 6 calendar months. The provisional candidature ends when you submit your PhD proposal and the formal candidature commences when this proposal has been accepted and supervisors have been found.

Specific requirements for pre-selection for consideration to enter provisional period of PhD candidature at CIE – external PhD candidates, Cohort 2

Evidence of the ability to conduct research with specific competences in qualitative and/or quantitative research methods:

  • At least a Master’s degree with research experience and a written thesis as part of the assessment of a relevant discipline. Specifically, such research experience needs to be evidence of the applicant’s competence of quantitative and/or qualitative research methods. Where possible such evidence includes excellent grades for courses in research methods and the subsequent application of these in research or research publications;
  • Substantial involvement in the research and writing up of a scientific publication in the field of internationalisation of higher education or comparative international education published in a peer reviewed journal or a chapter in a book (in English) on the subject;
Evidence of Experience to present research at Scholarly meetings:
  • At least 2 presentations at (inter)national conferences (in English);
Evidence of a substantial background in and knowledge about internationalisation of education:
  • At least 5 years’ experience in Internationalisation of Higher Education as the whole or a substantial part of your work portfolio (please indicate the percentage for IoHE if your portfolio includes other aspects);
  • Evidence of the production of implementation, strategy, and or policy papers for institutes of higher education or units therein;


  • A statement about the motivation for undertaking a PhD candidature;
  • Excellent grades during your undergraduate degree period;
  • Performance at an interview with at least two interviewers. These are conducted face-to-face or via internet or telephone facilities;
  • In relation to your normal work, time to be able to commit to the conduct of your PhD studies;

English language ability:

  • If English is not your native language, we require you to meet the University’s English language requirements.

Now, if you feel up to it, having read all this information, please submit an interest form via this page.

[†] Source Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) website