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Graduate Center NRW

Awarding of doctoral rights: a milestone for universities of applied sciences


Another path is now open to doctoral students at Fachhochschule Dortmund.

Since Thursday, November 17, 2022, it is official: The Graduate Center NRW was granted the right by Minister Ina Brandes to conduct independent doctoral procedures. This means that doctoral students at Fachhochschule Dortmund also have a new path to obtaining a doctoral degree.

There is now a central quality assurance body and a comprehensive qualification program for doctoral students at all universities of applied sciences. Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Schwick, Rector of Fachhochschule Dortmund, sees the awarding of the independent right to award doctorates to the Graduate Center NRW as a "great success and milestone". It opens up "an important new path for applied research, which sensibly complements the existing possibilities."

Until now, doctorates at universities of applied sciences in NRW were only possible in cooperation with a university. With the award of the right to award doctorates, Ina Brandes, Minister for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, now makes it possible to do a doctorate in the profile of the HAW.

This includes application-oriented research in line with national and international standards as well as very important basic research, particularly in social work and the academic health professions.

Brandes: "An important cornerstone"

"The universities of applied sciences are an important cornerstone of North Rhine-Westphalia's excellent scientific landscape," says Minister Brandes. "They combine a practical range of courses, innovative research and close cooperation with regional Business Studies. This makes them particularly attractive for young people who want to combine theory and practice."

Minister Brandes continued: "The awarding of the right to award doctorates to the Graduate Center is a milestone for the further development of the HAW in North Rhine-Westphalia. It gives an additional boost to application-oriented research and makes studying at a UAS even more attractive. I congratulate the Graduate Center NRW on this success and look forward to the first independent doctorates."

High demand

In the scientific sector, but above all in companies and organizations, there is great demand for highly qualified doctoral graduates from the UAS. In order to achieve innovation goals and generate economic and social benefits, these areas are dependent on practical knowledge from science and the development of the scientific and professional expertise of UAS graduates.

The right to award doctorates also strengthens the profile of UASs, enables their structural development and provides new impetus for applied research and educational equality in NRW.

Advantages of the centralized structure

At the Graduate Center NRW, qualified graduates from HAW and universities are prepared for their doctorate in a quality-assured manner over a period of three to four years within the framework of structured doctoral programs. They are supervised by a team of several university lecturers. The central structure of the Graduate Center NRW offers advantages for doctoral candidates, professors and universities.

Martin Sternberg, Chairman of the Board of the Graduate Center NRW, explains: "With our lean, optimally coordinated organization, we are creating a great offer for doctoral candidates from all over North Rhine-Westphalia, offering them and the professors a cross-university research environment and uniform conditions for doctorates. We relieve the universities considerably of the organizational and administrative tasks associated with doctorates. With their topics and projects, our doctoral students make an important contribution to solving global social challenges such as climate change and sustainability transformation. This paves the way for particularly talented young researchers to pursue an academic career at HAW or universities."

The awarding of the right to award doctorates was preceded by a comprehensive evaluation of the Graduate Center NRW by the German Council of Science and Humanities. The positive result of the evaluation was announced in July of this year.

Notes and references

Photo credits

  • Fachhochschule Dortmund

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