SUPPORTING THE STUDENTS IN THE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR DOCTORAL EDUCATION IN SPAIN
Universidad Antonio de Nebrija (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Doctoral studies are very different from undergraduate degrees. In the first case the focus is on personal work and research, there is little structure and each student follows an independent path. In the second, the activity is much more structured around courses and exams which are the same for all the students. This has traditionally caused two issues in Spain. The first one is that of the students that start a PhD, the percentage that completes their doctoral studies is very low. The second is that even those that do complete their studies spent many years and have a low productivity.
To mitigate these issues, in the context of the Bologna process a new framework for doctoral education in Spain has been approved this year. This new regulation sets a limit for the duration of doctoral studies and forces the student, his advisor and the University to follow a planning with checkpoints and auditing during the whole process. We believe that this new regulation will help in improving the success rate of doctoral studies and also the productivity of the PhD students. However, as it is a major change to the existing process it requires an adaptation period to ensure that it is implemented properly.
In this context, the school of Engineering of Universidad Antonio de Nebrija has developed a supervising process to ensure that the new regulation is effective. The process is an extension of the new regulation and is centered round the figure a supervisor that monitors the progress of the PhD students. This supervisor meets with the student and his advisor and acts as a consultant helping them define and refine the initial planning for the student. Then he periodically (at least one per quarter) meets with the PhD student to track his progress and provide guidance. Periodical meetings are also scheduled with the advisor.
We believe that supervising process will help in the early detection of problems. This is critical in the new regulation as the duration of the studies is limited by the law. Therefore it is vital to detect problems and act on them quickly. We also believe that this process will improve the quality of the studies. It will also make possible synergies and best practices ensuring a consistency among the work of the different students even if they work in different areas. The process has been implemented in 2011 and the initial feedback from the stakeholders (students and advisors) in very positive.
In this paper we will describe in more detail the new Spanish regulation for doctoral studies and the new supervising process that is being implemented at the school of Engineering of Universidad Antonio de Nebrija. Some case studies based on the initial results of the process during 2011 will also be described.
Keywords: Doctoral studies, student support.