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Newsletter from the PhD Council - May 2014

Thanks to all of you who attended our event last Wednesday, which included not only great food and an inspiring talk by Anine Kierulf, but also important debates. One of the outcomes of that debate was a need for information from the PhD Council concerning issues we are working on, while they are still in progress.

In other words: more information at an earlier stage, and preferably by e-mail. This newsletter, which has also been sent out through e-mail, is an effort towards meeting these demands.

We need a new member of the PhD Council:

Since Caroline is going on maternity leave soon, we will need a new PhD Council member until the end of 2014. The new member will take over her tasks, which are to act as our treasurer and be in charge of social activities. We highly encourage foreign PhD fellows to join us!

If you are interested in joining us, please do not hesitate to contact us on

Topics that the PhD Council has been working on this spring:
There are three PhD-relevant issues that have in particular been discussed in the Faculty's boards during the last couple of months. These are:

Incoming foreign PhD students and contract length (3 years vs. 4 years):
From our understanding, the intention of the Faculty going forward is that foreigners will increasingly be offered 4-year contracts, according to their competence/experience with regard to teaching relevant subjects to Norwegian law students -- and the availability of respective courses. What exactly this will entail in practice is still somewhat unclear. All that seems to be decided is that foreign PhD fellows will not automatically be excluded from getting 4 year contracts.

The PhD Council will continue to push for more teaching opportunities for foreign PhD fellows. This is of course a difficult struggle, and we welcome suggestions as to how we can practically achieve this goal.

Midway evaluation: new rules to be effective as of 1 January 2015:
Following the meeting between the PhD fellows and the Faculty last fall there have been discussions on how the midway evaluation could be improved. A new set of rules have been drafted, applicable from 1 January 2015. The goals of the midway evaluation have been defined as:

  • Ensure a regular flow of PhD fellows and to be able to pick up problems.
  • Look at the status quo of the PhD thesis half-way through the employment period.
  • Quality assurance and possibility to enact measures if necessary.

In order to fulfill these goals, the new midway evaluations wish to "unformalize" the procedure. The candidate should not prepare a specific document for the presentation, but submit everything he/she so far has produced. The midway evaluation should not create an extra workload for the candidate. New procedures for the evaluation:

  • Open seminar: Presentation by the candidate (30 min), commentary by commentator(s) (30-45 min), discussion (30 min).
  • Closed meeting: Leader of the respective institute, supervisor and commentator(s) meet to evaluate and discuss the project. They discuss whether any special measures should be implemented. The candidate is called in for the second half of the meeting.

We got some feedback from you that the present plan for the first half of the closed meeting, where the PhD fellow is not supposed to take part, is problematic. The PhD Council will take your concerns regarding this to the appropriate fora (primarily PFF), with the aim of amending this part of the new procedure so that PhD fellows can attend the closed meeting in its entirety.

Approval of B-seminars:
The PFF has discussed the suggestion sent in by the Stipendiatrådet to give feedback sooner on participation at seminars (particularly part B of the mandatory PhD program plan). The administration is overloaded and cannot prioritize to reply within reasonable time to each individual request for acceptance.

PFF suggests that the supervisor formally approves the participation, which is thereafter registered in StudWeb by the administration.

New topics discussed during the annual meeting:
During the annual meeting a couple of new issues were brought up. These will form part of the PhD Council's agenda going forward.

Solutions for present foreign PhD fellows without teaching opportunities:
We take note of the issue of PhD fellows that are already on 3 year contracts without being given even the opportunity to discuss their capacity for teaching during the employment process. This is an issue the PhD Council should pursue, both through the representatives in PFF (the Council for the PhD program) and the recently re-constituted LiMU (the Equality and Diversity Committee). We welcome any suggestions from you as to exactly how you would wish to see this issue resolved.

Mandatory PhD seminars:
There was some discussion of the content, purposes, and execution of the A-seminars. These seminars are mandatory parts of the PhD program. Despite diverging views, there seems to be enough concern and frustration among PhD fellows concerning these seminars that the PhD Council should put this on its agenda. Apparently, the A-seminars are soon to be evaluated (a 2-yearly event). The PhD Council will follow up on this evaluation, and ensure that it is conducted in a thorough and proper fashion.

In closing...
... we would like to thank you all for valuable feedback last Wednesday, and note that we are of course open for feedback at any time. Just grab a hold of one of us, or send us an e-mail on

For more information concerning our work, please see the minutes of our meetings, which are available on our website: The meeting report from our May meeting is also attached to the e-mail.

Best regards
The PHD Council at The Faculty of Law
(Stipendiatrådet ved Det juridiske fakultet)

Publisert 20. mai 2014 13:37 - Sist endret 20. mai 2014 13:38