Conference 2018

Shaping Doctoral Education – the Role of Professionals at Universities

The first conference of the PRIDE-Network Association aimed at shedding light on “Higher Education Professionals” in Doctoral Education. Who are these people? What job and qualification profiles do they have? How are they working together with different stakeholders within and outside university? Is a professional identity already arising?

These and other questions were discussed on 5 and 6 April 2018 in Vienna. First insights about characteristics and roles of professionals in Doctoral Education were already gained through the PRIDE project that was funded by the European Commission DG EAC with help of the Lifelong Learning Programme. The results are published in the handbook “Professionals in Doctoral Education”.


Background: Latest with the publication of the Berlin Communiqué 2003 and the “10 Salzburg Principles” 2005, doctoral education has become one of the most dynamic fields at universities bringing frequent change and reforms. For instance, many universities established Doctoral Schools as well as additional support offers for doctoral candidates such as workshops in transferable skills. The overall goal of many changes is to strengthen the institutional responsibility in the field of doctoral education.

To achieve this, universities need professionalized university administration to implement the new reforms. Scheijderberg et al (2013) describe this new type of staff as “Higher Education Professionals”. Following Whitchurch (2008) their position lies between the purely academic and administrative sphere and could also be called “Third Space Professionals”.

conference picture

Cited literature:
Schneijderberg, C., Teichler, U., Merkator, N., Kehm, B.M. (2013). Verwaltung War gestern? Neue Hochschulprofessionen und die Gestaltung von Studium und Lehre. Campus, Frankfurt.

Whitchurch, C. (2008b) ‘Shifting Identities and Blurring Boundaries: The Emergence of Third Space Professionals in UK Higher Education’, Higher Education Quarterly, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 377–396.

Zinner, L., Editor (2016). Professionals in Doctoral Education. A handbook. Vienna.