Organisation of third cycle studies


Centralised Support to the Network of Higher Education Reform Experts (HERE)

Technical Assistance Missions (TAM)

Name of Expert

Liviu Matei

Date of Visit

21-22 October 2015


Organisation of third cycle studies:

doctoral programme structure; doctoral programme development; monitoring and evaluation process; intellectual property rights; joint degree programmes vs. cotutelle agreements; joint doctorates; managing mobility programs; fostering the knowledge triangle in HE.

Objectives of the visit

  • Share information about main concepts and recent developments (policies and practices) in key areas of the organisation of doctoral studies in Europe;
  • Understand the content and specificities of the “the European model” of doctoral education and assess its relevance for Moldova;
  • Share information about the current reform of doctoral education in Moldova; identify achievements to date, key challenges and possible solutions in view of the European experience.
  • Promote a focused discussion about practical/technical solutions for addressing specific issues and challenges at institutional level in the context of the current reform of doctoral education in Moldova.

Format of the activity (seminar, training, etc)


Brief description of activities conducted

  • Preparation of extended presentation regarding the organisation of third cycle studies in Europe, also considering recent developments in this area in other parts of the world.
  • Overview of the current situation and plans for reform of doctoral education in Moldova (mainly participants’ input)
  • Interactive presentation and issue-driven discussion focusing on: the “European model” of doctoral education; European and national guidelines, regulations, and practices in doctoral education; challenges and best practices examples from  EHEA countries; current situation, developments and plans in the Republic of Moldova; challenges at national and institutional level and modalities to address them; international cooperation possibilities/potential benefits/ organisation of international cooperation .
  • A portfolio of relevant documents (reports, studies, guidelines and regulations) has been prepared and shared with the participants.

Participants targeted

Directors of doctoral schools, deans, vice-rectors from state universities, national quality assurance agency officers and ministry officials from the Republic of Moldova with attributions in the ongoing reform of doctoral education.

Main ‘take-aways’ from the perspective of the expert

  • The current reform of third cycle education in Moldova is planned to proceed very much along the lines of the European model that has emerged in the last 10-12 years. The main elements of the reforms appear to be correctly calibrated, at least in their intentions.
  • There is a high level of familiarity with the European model and recent experiences in this area.
  • There is quite significant diversity in Europe regarding practical aspects of the organisation of third cycle studies and it is important for policy makers and university administrators in Moldova to consider which actual experiences and practices are most useful here.
  • The third cycle is currently insufficiently developed in Moldova. This is reflected, among others, in the very small number of PhD students/early stage researchers. This is a major issue and it results in an insufficient number of highly skilled professionals, whether they are to work in the public sector, business, research, or education sectors of the Republic.
  • The reform currently underway tries to address this situation, and to overcome a number of significant challenges. Such challenges include: a level of funding for the third cycle that is not attractive for bright students, in particular, and makes the operations of doctoral schools difficult; unattractive career paths for those pursuing third cycle education.
  • European support is highly valued in the Republic of Moldova, including technical and financial support. Moldova cannot successfully reform doctoral education without significant European support.