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Rubén Permuy Iglesias
The University has doctoral students from over 50 countries
The number of doctoral students has increased by 20% compared to last year
It's the start of a new academic year and the Doctoral School is ready to support more than 370 students working on their doctoral theses at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Almost 38% of these students are from outside Spain, from more than 50 countries. Furthermore, some 70 new students have enrolled; that's 20% more than last year. This increase coincides with four new doctoral programmes being added to the four already offered.
"The number of candidacies received (to do a thesis at the UOC) far exceeds the number of doctoral students our researchers can supervise," said the Doctoral School's director, David Masip. Doctoral students can now carry out thesis projects in Business Administration and Management; Humanities and Communication; Health and Psychology, and Tourism. These four new programmes have been added to the four already offered at the UOC: Bioinformatics, Education and ICT (E-learning), Network and Information Technologies, and the pioneering programme in the Information and Knowledge Society.
Doing a doctorate online
Under current legislation, doctorates can be undertaken in two ways: full-time or part-time. The UOC offers both options, with its own programme of predoctoral contracts for full-time researchers in training. As Masip pointed out, "It's totally possible to do a thesis online part-time." In fact, 80% of UOC doctoral students do just that.
For many researchers, the doctoral thesis is the first stage in their career in research. "A doctorate is the highest qualification a university can offer in the training of future researchers to solve society's most complex problems. Essentially, you learn to do research," Masip explained; undertaking a doctoral thesis has "very important methodological implications and involves a long period of highly individualized training between the thesis supervisor and the doctoral student".
Great employment opportunities
Getting a PhD has a major impact on students' careers. According to data from the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya) on employment opportunities for PhD holders at the Catalan universities, the unemployment rate in this group is only 2%, while the number who enter the world of business and industry is over 59%. As noted by Masip, this confirms "the role of schools in knowledge transfer and the role of highly qualified researchers in industry, contributing to economic and social development".