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POST-GRADUATE EDUCATION: BACK TO NORMALITY!
Dr. Franz B. Humer, Chairman of the Foundation Board
When we began the work of our Foundation ten years ago, in university circles there was a very great fear that the Bologna reform – which was ongoing at the time – might, sooner or later, deal a death blow to post-graduate education at universities. Naturally, academics who are seeking a purely academic career would want and need to continue writing theses in the future. But what about those who gear their academic education more to an activity in business – might not they be content with a Master’s or even a Bachelor’s? Reflecting the gravity of the situation, in the middle of the last decade many universities went to great lengths to offer particularly attractive post-graduate programmes – often involving several faculties and almost always with an international orientation.
Since our establishment in 2007, our Foundation has considered it a privilege to be able to specifically promote such programmes. We do this in close co-operation with the universities in Zurich, Basel and Salzburg.Based on our own experiences, we can now say that those fears, while not groundless, have – thankfully – only partly been vindicated. Of course, many people who would once have completed their studies with a doctorate nowadays move straight into the world of work after successfully completing a Master’s. For businesses, this is quite an advantage. In return, many employers allow their younger academically trained employees to complete a post-graduate degree after their first few years of work if they are keen to further broaden their knowledge.
Yet – as the CVs of many doctoral candidates whom we have had the pleasure of supporting show – even after the Bologna reform, it is by no means the case that only those who want to dedicate their futures entirely to research and teaching complete a thesis. The impressive professionalization and internationalization of many postgraduate programmes makes a doctorate increasingly attractive to young people keen to prove themselves in business after their studies. I am delighted with this development, even though I am of course aware that a doctorate alone is no guarantee of a successful career at a company.
So, more than fifteen years after the Bologna process first began, we can say without doubt that the situation for postgraduate education at universities is returning to normal and, in many cases, has even improved.
I take great pleasure in the fact that our Foundation is able, in our 11th year of business, to play our part in this.