Doctoral students normally have an area of specialisation that is of interest to GIZ, or they show potential as innovators or future employees.
Lengthy research periods make it difficult for GIZ to seek out these forms of cooperation. And a topic that is current now may no longer be of interest in two years’ time. Ongoing projects may well be completed by then or a mentor assigned to support work in a particular area might accept a position abroad twelve months later.
As a result, it only makes sense for GIZ to take on doctoral students in specific cases.

Doing a doctorate means taking the initiative

PhD students need to be self-starters if they are to carry out their doctoral work at GIZ. They must independently approach the Graduate Research Committee  and convince it of the merits of them basing their research on a specific GIZ project.

Key questions include

  • Is the theme relevant, i.e. will it help the project’s activity area move forward?
  • Can the candidate or project use the interim results of the research?
  • How reliable is the undertaking? Is the work likely to be completed?
  • What about mentoring and support? Will it consume a lot of time?

Forms of cooperation

At a practical level, the following four types of cooperation have evolved when working with doctoral students:

  • Doctoral students who use GIZ data: Students finance their research using sources outside of GIZ such as grants or by working at the university department. They are able to access GIZ data. To this end, they coordinate their work closely with the GIZ Graduate Research Committee  responsible for the theme.
  • Doctoral students who work as appraisers/consultants: In this model, students do their doctorate independently and work as appraisers/consultants on a relevant topic. 
  • Doctoral students who work as part-time junior experts: Here, students do their doctorate independently and finance their research by taking on a part-time (50%) position as a junior expert. It is very difficult to strike the right balance between GIZ and research work in such cases.
  • Doctoral students who work as an intern: PhD students do a six-month internship at GIZ. During this time, they have access to the relevant data.