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PhD representatives report 2018

What we have done in 2018...

1. Novel Dissertation Agreement

  • In the past 1.5 years, we have been strongly involved in shaping a new document that will define the rights and duties of PhD candidates and supervisors from the beginning (similar to what many graduate schools already do). Although being mandatory for future PhD students only, it may be used as a code of conduct and guideline for current PhD students, too. The document's official approval is expected soon.
  • While elaborating this document, regulations were changed that also effect present PhD candidates, which you will see in the following:


2. Oberseminare

  • The faculty's obligation to visit two Oberseminars before granting the PhD title is no longer valid - only graduate schools can request such duties. The university's law department demanded this change in accordance with the current state university law (Landeshochschulgesetz).
  • Most likely, the term "Oberseminare" will disappear from the course lists in the future and be replaced with "seminar". This may cause confusion when graduate programs continue to require seminars that meet the standards of the traditional Oberseminar.


3. Teaching obligations

  • Also, the general course supervision obligation turned out to disagree with national law. Student supervision is subject to social insurance contributions (sozialversicherungspflichtig) and must be covered by a contract.
  • If teaching is part of your PhD contract, you will need to fulfill these tasks. As far as we understand, this is the case in all contracts issued and paid for by the faculty. All other PhD students are entitled to an additional contract that covers the supervision time.
  • PhD students on contracts: Your regular health and accident insurance covers student supervision (obligatory and voluntary, if authorized by your group leader).
  • Stipend holders: Careful! You are only covered if 1) enrolled as a student, 2) teaching is part of your stipend regulations or 3) you receive an extra contract for the supervision time! Otherwise, your private insurance needs to include teaching.
  • In summary, the faculty resigned from the "2-courses rule" which required you to supervise two courses before being awarded the PhD title. Again, graduate schools can assign requirements independent of the faculty.


4. Statement on voluntary teaching and visiting seminars

  • We strongly believe that visiting seminars and teaching students are crucial parts of every PhD thesis. Even if you are not obliged to do either, we collected arguments for voluntary contribution that are worth considering. They will also be handed out to future PhD applicants along with the dissertation agreement: [Addendum to the Dissertation agreement]
  • 1) Teaching teaches: Supervising students teaches you how to organize courses, practice leadership and self-critically handle feedback. These experiences will be beneficial way beyond your PhD work -- and are a plus in every application!
  • 2) Show responsibility: During your studies, you profited from motivated supervisors. Now, you can pass on your enthusiasm for science to the next generation!
  • 3) Support in the lab: Well-trained students can provide excellent lab support for your project in form of internships and thesis work!
  • 4) Teaching is fun: talk to your colleagues and you will learn that most PhD students experienced their supervision activities to be a rewarding diversion from project work!


5. Teaching Survey evaluation

  • In May 2018 we assessed the status quo of teaching workload of PhD students at our faculty. From the 97 participants we learned that, on average, PhD students supervise 2-3 lab courses (5 days each) and 2 final theses. The majority of 69 % evaluated their teaching efforts as appropriate. You can find the details [here].


6. Upcoming elections

  • Because in 2019 we will have a vote in the faculty council for the first time, we propose to adapt the election cycle of the PhD representatives to the election cycle of the faculty council. Therefore, we would like to postpone the upcoming election in January by 3 months until April 2019.
  • We propose to remain interim representatives until then