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Masterclasses in creativity will help PhD students find work, report suggests

Universities and policy-makers should support doctoral training programmes that encourage “intellectual risk-taking” and creativity so that PhD students are better prepared to enter employment, according to a new report.

The League of European Research Universities (LERU), a group of 21 leading research intensive universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, and University College London, suggests masterclasses in creativity and risk taking for research should be adopted to help students develop the necessary skills and outlook.

This is one of a range of recommendations made in the report Good practice elements in doctoral training looking at how to improve doctoral training for a “changing jobs market”.

The report says: “It is now widely recognised that doctoral graduates make significant contributions to innovation and that they need both a thorough and broad skill set to do so.

“With many graduates gaining employment outside of academia, the tradition of doctoral training only for replenishment of academia belongs to the past.

“This recognition has resulted in the growth of structured doctorates and institutional structures to ensure breadth and consistency of training at universities.”

It also says universities must promote innovation and liaise with other universities across Europe to share best practice. Examples of current best practice include masterclasses promoting creativity and risk-taking in novel research; toolkits to help doctoral researchers with information management in their research; courses or mentoring to support them to finish their PhD successfully and on time; and individual training plans.

LERU will launch the paper at a live panel debate event at the Neth-ER House in Brussels, Belgium, on February 4.