Record number of applicants for the new University of Helsinki doctoral researcher positions

Over 1,300 applications were received for the 236 doctoral researcher positions available in the doctoral education pilot at the University of Helsinki. The most applications were received by the field-specific education pilot Precision Cancer Medicine.

The application period for the three-year doctoral researcher positions funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture ended at the University of Helsinki on Monday 22 April. A total of 1,312 applications were received for 236 doctoral researcher positions available in the new doctoral education pilot. The positions are located in 11 field-specific education pilots

Of these, the Doctoral Education Pilot in Precision Cancer Medicine received about one third of applications, that is to say 400 applications. The next most popular pilots by number of applications were the Finnish Doctoral Program Network in Artificial Intelligence (269 applications) and the EDUCA Flagship Doctoral School Pilot Project (196 applications). 

On average, a little more than five applications were received for every vacant position. The most applications per vacancy was received by the Sustainability Transformations education pilot – more than 17 per vacancy. 

Of all the applicants, 16% have a prior degree from the University of Helsinki. While approximately one fifth of the applicants are Finnish by nationality, applications were received from over 80 countries. All faculties received applications, most popularly the Faculty of Science with 406 applications and, with 316, the Faculty of Medicine.

The aim of the doctoral education pilot is to ensure the completion of a doctoral research during the three-year employment period.

Successful applicants to be notified in June

“The first major stage of the application procedure is now complete and I am happy that we received so many applications,” says Sini Karppinen, Specialist at the University of Helsinki Research Services.

The multi-stage selection process continues with the competency  assessments of eligible applicants. After these are completed, the evaluation panels proposed by field-specific education pilots will implement the scholarly skills assessment during May. 

Successful applicants will be informed of their selection in early June. Around half of the applicants will enter employment in August and the rest in January 2025. A supplementary application procedure will be organised this autumn for the January 2025 commencement. 

Experiences gained from the education pilot to be useful in the future

The aim of the doctoral education pilot is to extensively develop good practices in doctoral education, such as the operations of thesis committees and supervision support.

The application process developed for the needs of the doctoral education pilot will also be useful in other application procedures. It will next be introduced already in the autumn in the application procedure for four-year, doctoral school funded doctoral researcher positions. 

“We have years of experience of application procedures for salaried doctoral researcher positions taking place every autumn. The doctoral education pilot provides us with the unique opportunity to renew this process. In my opinion, the most important reforms are, first, increasing the transparency and equity of the application procedure through clarification of the application instructions and process; and second, unifying assessment criteria as well as using, when possible, assessors external to the University. In the pilot application procedure, we also introduced an assessment of applicants’ competencies to get a picture of, for example, their creativity, analytic and conceptual thinking skills as well as their cooperation skills,” says Erkki Raulo, Head of Services at Research Services.