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Cofunded by the European Union

On December 11, 2023, a dedicated online workshop focusing on Best Practices in PhD Programmes was held. Organised by Wetsus and BRGM, the workshop aimed to discuss the expectations and identify missing elements in the current water domain PhD programmes.

While many outcomes and elements are already addressed within the existing subtask on PhD schemes (such as technology valorisation, multidisciplinary approaches and combining MBA and PhD), there are additional areas that could benefit from more explicit attention. These include policy development, effective communication with the public, fieldwork, and financing for supervision. Wetsus and BRGM shared their lessons learned and best practices for organising and setting up successful PhD programmes and transparent and merit-based recruitment processes.

Water4All PhD researchers share insights

In this workshop, two PhD researchers—Ruixuan Qi from Wetsus and Raissa Kadar Ismail from BRGM—shared their experiences. Both are currently focusing on sensor research on maintaining water quantity and quality, which are a key focus area for Water4All partnership.

Both Ruixuan and Raissa were recruited based on the principles of transparency and merit applied by Wetsus and BRGM. The PhD researchers appreciated having access to essential information, such as the recruitment stages, benefits, and working condition, before beginning the recruitment process. Throughout the stages, the transparency was maintained, and they even received feedback from their future supervisors and external evaluators. Ruixuan noted: “The recruitment process was well-rounded, and the sense of fair judgment was evident.”

Once they were starting their PhD journey, they stated that emphasis on personal development skills is just as crucial for their future careers as the scientific expertise they gain. Ruixuan highlighted the importance of engaging with knowledge-users to validate research, ensuring its relevance to real-world water challenges. His collaboration with Dutch water companies and interactions with industry experts have been invaluable and complemented his research nicely. Raissa, whose project is part of an EU consortium, also finds that working with different stakeholders can be both challenging and exciting but can give her more input from different angles. “I found that different perspectives will enrich my PhD work”, says Raissa.

Onward to have impact from PhD programmes

As we reflect on the workshop and experience shared by our PhD researchers, we find ourselves reassured that our PhD programmes are on the right trajectory. The Water4All partnership vision extends beyond creating scientific researchers; it aims to equip them with the necessary skills to tackle water challenges. We recognise the importance of personal development skills in achieving this. As part of Water4All partnership, we would like to share this PhD model to other stakeholders to achieve a wider impact.

Other news

The Water4All Partnership - Water Security for the Planet - is a funding programme for scientific research in freshwater. It aims to tackle water challenges to face climate change, help to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and boost the EU’s competitiveness and growth.

It is co-funded by the European Union within the frame of the Horizon Europe programme (a key funding programme for research and innovation). The Partnership duration is for seven years from 2022.

The Water4All objective is to enable water security at a large scale and in the long term. Its goal is also to tackle water issues in a holistic frame. 

All forms of life on earth need water. All human activities operate with this resource. Water is part of our everyday life. It is also integrated within urban and countryside landscapes. It is one of the most valuable elements we share with plants and animals.

These simple facts must be kept in mind to understand the Water4All ambition.

This resource is weakened in many places due to climate changes, and human habits. We know that we can improve the way we use water. Everyone has a role to play and especially the scientific research community.

Scientific research is the heart of the Partnership as It is a powerful tool to improve knowledge on preserving, restoring, and managing this essential resource. 

International cooperation is also needed as water has no borders on Earth and runs from one country to another.

Water4All brings together a broad and cohesive group of 90 partners from 33 countries in the European Union and beyond. This consortium gathers partners from the whole water Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) chain.