Practical support on key aspects is given to the candidates joining the program through the local International Student Offices at each university (and other local offices supporting academic and social activities). This includes initial orientation, help with visa and other bureaucratic tasks, local language tuition, and specific accommodation for postgraduate students in all cases. These rules apply to the reception of the students in each institution where they undergo their doctorate research project:
- Specific guidance and support is given to non-European students from the initial acceptance, along with the process to obtain a visa (including pre-contract, follow-up of the visa and work permit at embassies and national immigration services) before they arrive to the country of the first host university, and in coordination with the other universities (from different countries) involved in the training plan.
- Introduction to the university at the moment of admission with electronic documents and web links to relevant information to orient and inform the student about all important aspects before starting and during his doctoral studies: steps, plans, places and organisations, etc.
- Specific and focused welcome event at the university, that gives to the student, upon his/her arrival, all useful information (city map, transports information, money exchange offices, shopping information, university restaurants, housing information, etc).
- Installation in a university housing reserved in advance by the international office services.
- Support by the international offices/departments/Human resources units in the application to legal documentation (immigration related: visa application, resident card application, etc) and identity cards, affiliation to social security for health care service (particularly necessary for third country students).
- Support in the administrative issues (by either the mentor, co-supervisors or a member of the administrative support) such as registration at the universities, signup for the local language courses, opening of a bank account.
- Local support by the administrative support members to provide contacts with local students to facilitate the integration in the local student/cultural/activities life, administrative procedures, and global functioning of the university and city.
- Organization, by the international offices, of a orientation day and other activities for all foreign students of the university to give opportunities to the students to get to know each other and make them aware of the diverse activities possible (sport, culture, etc) on and outside the campus, including a one-day visit of the region where they will live.
- Organization of a one-day visit of the research laboratories of the partner institutions involved in the doctorate program
Doctoral candidates with family and special needs receive special attention by the local international offices, in order to help them with specific issues in finding accommodation, child care, and bureaucratic tasks for all family members.
Each university has its own specific program to provide specific support for students, staff (and family members) with special needs with support programs to overcome the typical barriers for them. They apply not only with specific support, accessibility mechanisms policies at international offices (also orienting about local support programs for out of work life), but also at departments, research labs, training sites. They receive special attention by the local international offices, in order to help with finding accommodation, child care, bureaucratic tasks, etc.
Language policy of the consortium
The language policy is to open and support the students to a wide range of possibilities to learn European languages. The common language is essentially English as the “first language”, although certain training lectures can be optionally given in the local language.
In order to facilitate the students’ comprehension, cultural immersion and integration, specific cultural lectures as well as Swedish, French, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese language courses (3-4 hours/week), at no extra cost or a nominal fee (subsidised), are offered to students at every university.
In addition to this educational context (training weeks classes), the mentorship taking place for each student intends to provide them with the possibility to exchange scientific/everyday life discussions in the local language. The possibility to attend local scientific seminars and workshops also provides language exchanges.
The effort spent in language courses is recognized in the individual research plan (see Scheme 1), and according to the local rules at the participating universities.
Administrative arrangements for the award of the fellowships
All our Consortium partners provide their PhD candidates with Employment Contracts including full social security cover and pension rights according to the national laws applicable to every student. See the “Doctoral Candidate Agreement” document (Word, PDF).
All European Partners have formally adopted the European Charter for Researchers, and EMJD-DC will pay special attention that Employers of Doctoral Candidates “should ensure that PhD candidates enjoy fair and attractive conditions of funding and/or salaries with adequate and equitable social security provisions.”
The doctorate program starts with the signature of a contract containing different parts involving the co-supervising institutions. Depending on the national legal regulation (employment and work permit rules, with the guidance of international offices at each university) a single contract for the whole period of the PhD programme or multiple contracts (one initial contract for the first consecutive period, and pre-contracts for the remaining periods) will be signed. Depending of the nationality of the candidates and the countries involved in the planned mobility periods, a pre-contract will be provided as part of the process of obtaining the specific work permit and visas. This process will be supported and coordinated among the international offices at each university involved in each specific case. These contracts give PhD students equivalent research posts in any of the four partners, also equivalent to existing local contractual figures at each partner.
Each doctorate contract guarantees the students access to the public social security coverage (health care, work accident insurance, pension rights, parental leave) of the countries involved in the co-supervision.
Beyond the national health insurance regulations and services and the limitations depending on the nationality of students, the partners, through the coordinating organization (UPC) in collaboration with the international offices at each university, provides a common extended health insurance scheme for doctorate students including the mobility periods and internships, which is financed by the doctoral school, in order to provide equivalent high quality conditions to all PhD students.