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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is the offshoot of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) that was founded in 1834 by a Brussels lawyer with Flemish origins, Pierre-Théodore Verhaegen. He wanted to establish a university that would be independent from the state and the church and where academic freedom would reign. With the act of 28 May 1970, the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles officially became two separate legal, administrative and scientific entities.

In 2010, the research management of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel was praised by an external commission, coordinated by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR). The Commission referred to the good link between research and education, considered the focus on internationalisation to be an excellent development, and praised the VUB for its strong tradition in terms of the quality assurance of its research. In the previous academic year, 134 researchers (compared to 114 in 2008-2009) successfully completed their doctoral thesis. The largest number of doctorates is to be found in the Faculties of Engineering Sciences, Science and Bio-engineering Sciences and Medicine and Pharmacy. In addition to this, there are 1,217 doctoral theses in preparation. Male PhD students are in the majority: 695 compared to 522 women.

The Central PhD Office of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is established to help PhD students start, conduct and complete a PhD project. This covers such diverse aspects as providing information on the administrative aspects of a PhD, helping shape VUB policy concerning the PhD process, offering workshops aimed at developing generic or transferable skills and furthering co-operation with other institutions in the domain of PhD studies.
Since their founding in 2007, three Doctoral Schools are reinforcing VUB’s mission by providing a distinctive framework for the Doctoral Training Programme and enhancing the visibility and image of doctoral research, both within and outside the academic world. In collaboration with VUB’s HR department and Career Center, a lot of attention goes specifically to the career opportunities of doctorate holders and therefore appropriate training, for the PhD candidates as well as for the staff responsible for the training programme, is crucial.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Hannelore De Grande

Hannelore De Grande is coordinator of the Central PhD Office. She obtained her Master’s degree in Sociology of Ghent University in 2008 and has worked at the Centre for Research & Development (Ghent University) until 2011, where she studied doctoral careers and intersectoral mobility of PhD holders. From 2011 until 2015, she made her own doctoral dissertation at Interface Demography (VUB) concerning educational inequalities in health and mortality among young persons in the Brussels Capital Region. In 2015, she also started working as coordinator of the Central PhD Office at VUB, where she is in charge of the further development of the Doctoral Training Programme and of the university’s policy on doctoral education and supervision.

Jan Den Haese

is HR Development Manager at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Before joining the university in 2010, Jan developed his career as a management consultant for Career-Builders, Hudson and Celerant Consulting, designing and implementation major change programs addressing operational, organisational and strategic challenges for local and international clients, such as : Pfizer, Aventis, T-Mobile, Philips, Atlas Copco, Agfa, Swarovski and KLM. With a background in Psychology (Ghent University) and Business Science (Vlerick Leuven-Ghent Management School), Jan has built expertise in HR Strategy, HR process Optimization, organisation design, talent management and employee engagement. He advises the Public Administration of Flanders on a number of HRM related topics.

Karen François

is Director of the Doctoral School of Human Sciences (DSh), Vrije Universiteit Brussel and senior researcher at the Centre of Logic and Philosophy of Science (CLWF). She holds the degrees: Teacher Training in Sciences and Geography (State University College, Ghent); Master in Moral Sciences (University of Ghent); Teacher Training in Moral Sciences (University of Ghent); Master in Women's Studies (University of Antwerp). She obtained her Doctorate in Philosophy, 2008, Free University Brussels (VUB), with a dissertation in the research field of Philosophy of Mathematics. As the Director of the DSh (consisting of 5 faculties and about 560 PhD students) she is managing and organizing multiple activities to assist PhD students in extending and improving their capabilities, in succeeding in gaining a PhD. She strongly supports PhD students in setting up activities of mutual interest. On the basis of cooperation she keeps closely in touch with the needs of the PhD students.

Jane Verlinden

is a co-worker of the Central PhD Office. She holds a Master's degree in Political Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and has been working for the Central PhD Office for 4 years. First as administrative employer during her Master year and since 2010 as a policy officer. The Central PhD Office works closely together with the VUB's three Doctoral Schools and their academic directors. This cooperation leads to a balanced Doctoral Training Programme. Jane is mainly responsible for the organization of courses, trainings, seminars and social events within the framework of research policy and the Doctoral Training Programme. Next to this she works closely together with coordinator Julie Debrauwere on the university's policy on doctoral education and supervision.

This project has been funded by the European Commission DG EAC through the Lifelong Learning Programme. This website reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
University of Vienna, Berggasse 7, 1090 Vienna, Austria, lucas.zinner@univie.ac.at