8. PhD organizations and networks

PhD candidates of Utrecht University are collectively represented at various levels. First, several faculties and graduate schools have their own PhD council, with some at a departmental level.

At the university level, PhD candidates are represented by Prout. On the national level, PhD candidates are represented by the PhD candidates Network of the Netherlands (PNN). Furthermore, there is also a PhD network representing all PhD candidates in Europe called Eurodoc. In this chapter you can find information about the different PhD organizations with links to their websites.

The university is divided into faculties and also into graduate schools. In principle, faculties deal with research while the graduate schools take care of education; the precise distinction between these two notions is a bit subtle, and there is some overlap. Since the various PhD programmes are the responsibility of the graduate schools, the various PhD councils within Utrecht University have been sorted by graduate school below. Historically PhD candidate representation is also organized at Faculty level, and in several cases the PhD councils of the two coincide.

PhD councils per graduate school

Graduate School and Faculty of Geosciences

The Faculty of Geosciences consists of four departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Innovation and Environmental Sciences and Human Geography and Spatial Planning. The Geosciences faculty has a PhD council, Geo PhD Council, which represents all PhD candidates of the four Departments. Since the Geo PhD Council takes care of educational matters as well, the Graduate school of Geosciences does not have its own PhD council. One council member is also representatives for Prout.

The Geo PhD council has two goals. First, the Geo PhD council promotes the interests of the PhD candidates in the Geosciences Faculty. Second, the Geo PhD council aims to create and foster the community among PhD researchers of the faculty of Geosciences. The council meets once every two months to discuss topics relevant to PhD candidates. Furthermore, the Geo PhD council hosts workshops, an annual PhD Day, drinks and various other social activities.

The Geo PhD council aims to have at least one representative of each department in the council. One member of the council is a member in the Board of Studies and sets forth the opinion of the council within that body.  Finally, the Geo PhD council strives to be well connected with Prout via one or two council members also functioning as representatives of Prout. The Geo PhD council has a website, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn group-page with notifications of upcoming events and other useful information. The PhD Council can be contacted at phdcouncil@uu.nl.


AiO Platform Earth Sciences (APES) mainly organizes social events. It has a Facebook group.

Graduate School and Faculty of Humanities

The Graduate School of Humanities, associated to the Faculty of Humanities, has a PhD council. Research is split along institutes and employees belong to one of the four departments. Each department has an associated contact person for PhD candidates, and there is a Graduate School wide PhD mentor.

Graduate School and Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance

The PhD Council of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance represents all PhD candidates within the three Schools (departments). The Council does this in three ways:

  • it provides PhD candidates with useful information regarding their PhD track
  • it organizes activities such as monthly PhD Drinks, an annual PhD Day (filled with workshops and lectures) and various other ad hoc activities (such as a monthly PhD drink).
  • it promotes their interests by consulting with and advising the Faculty Dean, the Board of Studies, the Directors of Research, the PhD Deans and other PhD organizations such as the university-wide PhD Network Prout and the Dutch PhD Network PNN.

The PhD Council contacts the LEG PhD candidates through personal contact via the Council members and through mailing lists and other online means. The PhD Council can be contacted at phdcouncil.rebo@uu.nl.

Graduate School of Life Sciences

The Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) contains PhDs from three faculties: (the life-science part of) Science, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. All PhD candidates within the GSLS are represented by the PhD council GSLS. This council is mainly concerned with the training (and supervision) offered to its PhDs. Questions regarding these issues or other difficulties can be sent to phd-council-ugsls@googlegroups.com.

Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science contains the Graduate School of Natural Sciences as well as a part of the Graduate School of Life Sciences. The beta-pc (beta PhD council) in principle covers the whole faculty, encompassing the Graduate School of Natural Sciences as well as that of Life Sciences. Although this council is currently dormant, with the revival of the Natural Sciences PhD council (see below) the beta-pc might become active as well. The beta-pc still has an email address, betapc@googlegroups.com.

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

The Veterinary PhD Council (VetPhDC) is the faculty council for the PhD candidates of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The Faculty consists of eight departments and VetPhDC aims to have at least one representative from each department in the council. The council meets monthly and aims to organise an event for all VetPhDs every three months. The VetPhDC also has a page on the UU Intranet, conveniently called intravet, and a facebook page.


The Graduate Programme Medical Imaging is so big that it has its own PhD Council. It can be reached at pr@isi.uu.nl.

Graduate School of Natural Sciences

The Natural Sciences PhD council (GSNS-pc) revived in the fall of 2013 after a period of inactivity. The purpose of this council is to look after the interests of PhD candidates within the graduate school. The council aims to be in the loop on all matters pertaining to PhDs and to represent PhD candidates towards governing bodies of the graduate school. Moreover, the PhD council can provide a way for PhD candidates from different institutes within the GSNS to meet each other. It aims to have at least one member from each of its research institutes, and possibly even one per bigger research group. The GSNS-pc can be reached at gsns-pc@science.uu.nl.


See the description at the Faculty of Medicine.

Debye AiO Comissie (DAC)

The Debye Institute for Nanomaterial(s) Science has its own PhD Council: the Debye Aio Commissie (DAC), which mainly organizes social activities.

Graduate School and Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FSS) has a faculty-wide PhD Council, with PhD representatives present for all departments. Additionally, the PhD representatives for the Board of Studies (BoS) and the Board of Research (BoR) are brought forward by the FSS PhD Council and are present during the meetings of the council. The council meets every 6 weeks. For more information, you can e-mail them at phdcouncilfss@uu.nl.

Other PhD councils


The RIVM (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu – the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) has PhD candidates, some of which are also connected to the UU and/or UMC. Its PhD council is called Proneri and can be reached at proneri@rivm.nl.

PhD candidates Network of the Netherlands (PNN)

The main objective of the PhD candidates Network of the Netherlands is to safeguard the interests of all PhD candidates in the Netherlands, regardless of whether they are employed at a Dutch University, a University Medical Centre, or another institute. At the broadest level, PNN promotes the interests of PhD candidates at the national level. In order to attain these objectives, PNN regularly meets with policy makers from national organizations addressing PhD-related issues. These organizations are extremely diverse and include the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), various labour unions and political parties. In fact, since 5% of all scientific staff in the Netherlands are PhD candidates, PNNs collective negotiation is quite strong. Moreover, PNN is passionate about ensuring that all stakeholders work together to create an attractive research environment for current and future PhD candidates. Nonetheless, it is PNNs opinion that several developments in academia are inhibiting the creation and maintenance of such an attractive climate for PhD research.

The board of PNN meets once a month and 4 times a year a General Members Meeting with representatives of all local University wide PhD councils is being held.

European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc)

The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (EURODOC) is an international federation of 34 national organisations of PhD candidates and young researchers from 33 countries of the European Union and the Council of Europe.
EURODOCs objectives are:

  • To represent doctoral candidates and junior researchers at the European level in matters of education, research, and professional development of their careers.
  • To advance the quality of doctoral programmes and the standards of research activity in Europe.
  • To promote the circulation of information on issues regarding young researchers; organize events, take part in debates and assist in the elaboration of policies about Higher Education and Research in Europe.
  • To establish and promote co-operation between national associations representing doctoral candidates and junior researchers within Europe.

EURODOC was founded in Girona (Spain) on the 2nd of February 2002. Since 2005, Eurodoc has its seat in Brussels, Belgium.