Collaboration

Pirjo Nikander highlights Finland’s doctoral education expertise in Europe

Pirjo Nikander
Pirjo Nikander, director of the Doctoral School at Tampere University, has been appointed to the Steering Committee of the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE). Nikander will join the Steering Committee in October 2019. During her three-year term, Nikander wants to shine a light on the high level of expertise available in Finland and Tampere and promote equitable access to doctoral education regardless of geographical boundaries.

Established at the initiative of the European University Association (EUA) in 2008, the Council for Doctoral Education is the largest doctoral education network in Europe comprising 255 universities from 36 countries. Eleven Finnish universities are members.

“The development of doctoral education has been a collaborative effort in Finland for a long time. Besides Tampere University, I will represent all the doctoral schools in Finland on the EUA-CDE Steering Committee,” Pirjo Nikander says.

With her 15 years of experience in the field, Director of Tampere University’s Doctoral School Pirjo Nikander knows the Finnish landscape of doctoral education inside out.

“In many respects, Finland is in the vanguard of developing doctoral education. For example, we have implemented a nationwide online course in research ethics that is open to all universities and a nationwide conference called Doctoral Education Day is arranged in Finland on an annual basis. The 2019 Doctoral Education Day will explore, among other things, the well-being of doctoral candidates, which is a topic that is currently stirring a great deal of discussion in many European countries.”

Through EUA-CDE, Finnish universities stay up to date on the way the wind is blowing across the education sector. 

“Current hot topics are, for example, digitalisation and its impact on doctoral education,” Nikander says.

Dissertations are the driving forces of innovation

A doctoral dissertation opens the door to a career in academia. Early-career researchers who are writing their dissertation have an important role not only in universities but also in the scientific community as a whole. The education they receive, the skills they acquire, the career support they are offered and the recognition they are accorded are all reshaping our next generation of researchers.

“Doctoral dissertations are the engine that drives forward the culture of innovation in Europe,” Nikander points out.

Pirjo Nikander is currently the only Nordic serving on the EUA-CDE Steering Committee. Besides developing Finland's expertise, Nikander is looking to promote equitable access to doctoral education regardless of location. 

“I am keen to promote doctoral education in the developing countries in Europe, such as Ukraine. We need to support the local provision of education in these countries to ensure they do not lose their young generation of scientists to brain drain.”

Text: Sanna Kähkönen