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Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education (ARDE)

ARDE Project

In October 2010, the European University Association (EUA) and its partners, University College Cork (UCC)Universities Austria (UNIKO) and the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland (CRASP), launched a new project entitled “Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education (ARDE)”.


Doctoral education is crucial to the creation of the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area, serving as a bridge between them and preparing the researchers that will continue to forge the European knowledge society. Over the last decade, European universities have carried out major reforms in the field of doctoral education, establishing structured programmes and doctoral schools in an effort to provide more transparency and better support for their doctoral candidates.

Giving an overview and raising awareness of these issues will be central to the continued improvement of doctoral education. Establishing tools to enhance transparency and accountability is essential to the internal development of these programmes as well as to the implementation of the universities’ research strategies. The impact of this project will therefore be of use to individual universities as well as to the research strategy of the EU as a whole.

Project description and objectives

The ARDE project examines European doctoral programmes in order to gather information about existing structures, good practice and areas of concern in assuring and enhancing quality in doctoral education.

Despite the substantial reforms that have taken place in doctoral education in recent years and the fact that many would argue that there are fundamental differences between the quality assurance (QA) developed for the first and second cycle and that for doctoral education, the means of enhancing accountability in this area have not yet been addressed systematically. This project aims to begin the discussion on this issue.

Activities and timeline

In order to achieve the abovementioned aims, the first phase of the ARDE project involved distributing a survey among EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) members in February 2011 to establish an overview of the state of doctoral education in European universities. An online discussion forum was also established in spring 2011 where respondents had the opportunity to further communicate on the relevant issues. This forum is now closed.

This data-gathering phase was followed by a consultation process consisting of four focus group sessions which took place between September 2011 and May 2012. A final workshop was held in September 2012 at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm to disseminate the project’s findings to date and to discuss the proposed recommendations with a wide policy and institutional audience. Finally, a report on the project's findings was drafted and circulated across European universities and to stakeholders, such as funding organisations and decision makers at national and European levels, in spring 2013. The report can be found here.

It was presented at the ARDE Publication Launch Event in Brussels:


ARDE Publication Launch Event

The event was hosted by the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union, Brussels, Belgium, on
26 February 2013.

Click here for the presentation by Alan Kelly, Dean of Graduate Studies at University College Cork.

Click here for the presentation by Thomas Jørgensen, Head of Unit, EUA Council for Doctoral Education.




Focus Groups

Focus Group 1 - Indicators and data collection: Monitoring the doctoral cycle
Brussels, Belgium
(10 October 2011)

Focus Group 2 - Assuring quality in supervision
organised by University College Cork
Dublin, Ireland
(24 November 2011)

Focus Group 3 - Career development
Vienna, Austria
(8 March 2012) 

Focus Group 4 - Evaluating and assessing doctoral education
organised by CRASP
Warsaw, Poland
(15 May 2012)


Final Workshop
As part of EUA's Doctoral Week
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
27 September 2012


If you have further questions or require more information on the ARDE project, please contact Thomas Jorgensen.

With the support of the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission.

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96