The Ministry of Education and Culture has allocated a total of 225 million euros to universities for pilot projects in doctoral education. The University of Eastern Finland is involved in 11 pilots now selected for funding.
The Ministry of Education and Culture will allocate 255 million euros to universities for piloting new practices in doctoral education in 2024–2027. This additional funding will be allocated to 1,000 doctoral researchers who will have a three-year employment contract to complete their doctoral degree. Pilots will be implemented field-specifically in flagship fields as well as in other fields that can be selected freely.
The University of Eastern Finland is involved in 11 pilots, with 70 new doctoral researcher positions opening at the university. The University of Eastern Finland was granted around 18 million euros of funding for the pilots.
“The doctoral education pilots are an important investment by the Government in the development of doctoral education. The University of Eastern Finland has already begun developing its doctoral education in line with the pilots’ objectives,” says Academic Rector Tapio Määttä.
The University of Eastern Finland coordinates the flagship field pilot Doctoral Education Pilot for Mathematics of Sensing, Imaging and Modelling, DREAM. The pilot is led by Professor Tanja Tarvainen at the Department of Technical Physics, with the total funding amounting to 25.5 million euros.
“The multidisciplinary DREAM pilot includes mathematics, physics, engineering and applications. In this pilot, we bring together experts in mathematical modelling, sensing and imaging from the FAME Flagship and we train next-generation professionals to meet the needs of industry and society,” Tarvainen says.
The University of Eastern Finland is also a partner in the following flagship field pilots:
- Digital Waters Doctoral Education Pilot (funding 15.3 million euros)
- Doctoral Education Pilot in Precision Cancer Medicine (38.8 million euros)
- EDUCA Flagship Doctoral School Pilot Project (19.9 million euros)
- Finnish Doctoral Program Network in Artificial Intelligence (25.5 million euros)
- National Doctoral Education Pilot based on Immune System (20.7 million euros)
- Innovative Doctoral Education Ecosystem for Photonics (18.4 million euros)
- Quantum (22.9 million euros)
In other fields that can be selected freely, the University of Eastern Finland coordinates the Sustainability Transformations Pilot, which is led by Professor Arto O. Salonen at the Department of Social Sciences. The pilot’s funding amounts to 10.2 million euros.
“This decision will be thanked by future generations. Solutions are needed for climate change, biodiversity is a prerequisite for life, and the depletion of natural resources challenges entire societies,” Salonen says.
In addition, the University of Eastern Finland is a partner in the following pilots in fields that can be selected freely: Doctoral Pilot in Software Engineering (funding 12.5 million euros) and Interdisciplinary Doctoral School of Social Services (8.7 million euros).
According to Määttä, the three-year doctoral researcher positions funded through the pilots will be open for application in March. The researchers will start on 1 August 2024 or on 1 January 2025.
How pilot projects develop doctoral education
The appropriation will be used to implement 15 pilots for field-specific doctoral education, nine in flagship fields and six in other fields that can be selected freely. The pilots were selected based on an international review carried out by the Research Council of Finland.
Of the doctoral researchers, 800 will focus on flagship fields and 200 on other fields. Consortia designed by universities will implement the pilots in each field with extensive cooperation with research institutes and businesses.
Universities will work together to improve doctoral education and reinvent practices. The pilots aim to increase the mobility of doctoral graduates between universities, businesses, research institutes and other organisations, develop direction and guidance, and promote the employment of doctoral graduates in different sectors of society.
The field-specific pilots will employ the first doctoral researchers in August 2024. The Ministry of Education and Culture will set up a monitoring group and a research evaluation project for the pilots.
The doctoral education pilots are part of the initiative to increase Finland's research and development funding to four per cent of gross domestic product by 2030.
The pilot will increase the number of doctoral students in universities in addition to those currently studying for a doctoral degree. In 2022, the Parliamentary RDI working group found in its final report that more than 2,000 doctoral graduates will be needed in R&D each year between 2024 and 2030. In 2022, 1,623 persons completed a doctoral degree in Finland.