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Created 14.2.2024
Updated 25.3.2024

Finland needs more highly trained professionals for jobs in critical fields that require a high level of expertise. The Ministry of Education and Culture has now granted funding for a doctoral education pilot programme, where universities hire a thousand new doctoral researchers for three-year contracts to complete a doctoral degree. LUT University will recruit 44 new doctoral students for the pilot. 

The majority – 800 doctoral researchers – will focus on the Research Council of Finland's flagships, which promote high-quality research and its economic and societal impact. The remaining 200 of the thousand doctoral researchers will focus on fields other than the flagships. LUT is directly involved in one flagship funded by the Research Council of Finland. LUT's hires will additionally be placed in six other research consortia. 

“Considering that LUT is involved in only one flagship, the 44 doctoral students allotted to us can be seen as quite a win,” says Jari Hämäläinen, LUT's vice rector for research.

Up to 100 doctoral graduates a year from LUT

The LUT Doctoral School’s current annual intake is roughly 120 students, and about 60 obtain their doctoral degree each year. Due to the number of doctoral researchers recruited for the pilots, the annual number of doctoral graduates from LUT may, in the coming years, rise to 100.

Finland needs not only more skilled tradesworkers but also professionals in research, development, and management, as the country’s population decline is leading to a decline in the number of top talents with doctorates. In terms of supply security, it would be important for more Finns to complete doctoral degrees.

“The best alternative would be to complete the doctoral degree directly after the five-year master’s studies. That would enable introducing professionals with a doctorate into the world of work at an early stage of their career. From a student’s perspective, the pilot provides secure funding and a clear three-year path from a master’s degree to a doctorate,” Hämäläinen affirms.

Graduating at an earlier stage can pave the way to post-doctoral positions at universities abroad and accumulating qualifications for professorships. In addition, it can be an advantage in applying for expert positions in the private sector.

Businesses need doctoral graduates

The doctoral education pilot aims to increase the number of full-time research positions and doctoral graduates and promote the societal impact of doctoral education. The development of fields such as health care, clean industry, and a clean environment require more doctoral-level expertise.

“I'm glad people have noticed that doctoral education is not only a stepping stone to an academic career. It can also serve business enterprises. LUT trains doctoral graduates specifically for advanced research and development work in businesses and the export industry,” Hämäläinen emphasises.

The first doctoral researchers for the pilot will be hired in August 2024, and the rest at the beginning of 2025. 


Practices for doctoral education reinvented with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture

  • The doctoral education pilot is one of the outcomes of an increase in government research and development funding that aims to raise the level of R&D funding to four percent of Finland's gross domestic product by 2030.
  • In the pilot, universities collaborate to develop doctoral education and reinvent its practices. 
  • The objective is to increase the mobility of doctoral graduates between universities, businesses, research institutes and other organisations, develop direction and guidance, and promote the employment of doctoral graduates in different sectors of society. 
  • In 2022, a Parliamentary RDI working group found in its final report that more than 2,000 doctoral graduates will be needed in R&D each year between 2024 and 2030. In 2022, 1,623 persons completed a doctoral degree in Finland.

The doctoral researchers recruited by LUT will be placed in the following pilot projects:

  • Doctoral education pilot for mathematics of sensing, imaging and modelling (flagship)
  • Circular Materials Bioeconomy Network: From bio-based resources to advanced Materials 
  • Finnish Doctoral Program Network in Artificial Intelligence
  • Doctoral pilot in software engineering
  • Graduate school in particle and nuclear physics
  • Intelligent work machines
  • Sustainability transformations

Read more about the pilot

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