The research school ICS, for which the University of Groningen is the coordinator (penvoerder), is one of the nine research schools in the Netherlands to be awarded a grant by the new NWO Graduate Programme. Minister Plasterk announced this at the opening celebrations for the grant programme on 12 August 2009 in The Hague. The grant of EUR 800,000 will enable the ICS to appoint four extra PhD students.
NWO is full of praise for the ICS’s approach. The NWO committee which assessed the applications for the Graduate Programme considers that the research school’s programme makes a ‘solid and convincing impression’. ‘Universities combining their forces has proved itself and the academic level of the researchers is high. The ICS research programme is thematically varied but maintains significant internal coherence. The teaching quality of the school is well founded and assessed as very good.’
ICS ( Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology) is an interuniversity research school with sites in Groningen (coordinator), Utrecht and Nijmegen. ICS was founded in 1986 as one of the first PhD networks, with a special grant from the Ministry of Education. In 1993 the ICS was accredited in the first KNAW assessment round, with reaccreditation following in 1998 and 2003.
NWO has developed the new Graduate Programme at the request of the Ministry with the aim of creating an outstanding teaching and research environment for very talented young researchers. In this way Minister Plasterk wants to strengthen the Dutch PhD system. In the long term he envisages an annual budget of EUR 15 million for the Graduate Programme.
There were 36 applications for the first round of the Graduate programme. After careful deliberation, a committee of diverse expertise selected the 16 most promising candidates. Nine of these have now been awarded a grant.
The schools have been assessed on the basis of academic quality (research programme, quality of researchers) and the quality of the teaching and the available supervision (teaching curriculum, quality of supervisors and lecturers). The NWO committee considered the ICS to belong to the absolute top and assessed its application as ‘excellent’.
ICS owes this high assessment to, among other aspects, the significant attention that is paid to the freedom of choice of the student, to the possibilities for rotation and to students writing their own research proposals. The committee also commented that the prominent researchers in the school were very involved with the students and PhD students.
ICS has also recently been assessed within the framework of the national Sociology research visitation (see www.qanu.nl/). The Groningen and Utrecht programmes were awarded the following marks in the dimensions Quality, Productivity, Relevance en Viability: 5, 4, 5, 4 and 5, 5, 5, 5 respectively on a scale from 1 (unsatisfactory), to 4 (very good), and 5 (excellent). The Nijmegen programme was assessed separately in 2006 and achieved scores of 5, 4, 4 and 4.5.
More information:- Prof. Rafael Wittek
- Dr Rie Bosman
See also the ICS website
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