n South African Journal of Higher Education - Postgraduate studies in Germany - how much structure is not enough?

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



In many European higher education systems, doctoral education is considered a rather unsystematic educational path. The candidate does not participate in course programmes nor is the Ph.D. candidate selected or evaluated according to any common standards. Since the 1990s, this unstructured approach to doctoral education has come under increasing scrutiny from politicians, scientists and has been the subject of public debate. Central issues include the employability of doctoral students and the lack of quality assurance and proper supervision. A considerable number of European higher education systems, including the German, are therefore shifting their doctoral education to a more structured approach. However, there is little consensus on just how much structure is necessary. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the tensions in the reform debate on doctoral education in Germany and to provide suggestions for how to cope with the conflicting pressures and demands.

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